It’s an exciting time for Illinois right now. I am looking forward to so many great things for our state and our district this year. Now that there is new leadership in the Governor’s Office and the new 99th General Assembly has been sworn into office, it’s time to get to work.
With our state in a fiscal crisis, we have no time to waste. The solutions to our problems will be difficult, especially when it comes to the state’s budget. It will be painful the first few years. That said, it is necessary for our state’s future, and I am optimistic our future is bright.
Beyond the budget, my priorities this year for the state include passing pro-businesses reforms, creating jobs, focusing more on the energy sector, boosting the economy, and easing the burden on middle class families with lower taxes, less spending, and fewer regulations. I am tired of people moving out of Illinois, seeing neighboring states thrive, and entrepreneurs not choosing our state to start their businesses. That stops this year with a new attitude in Springfield.
In our district, my priorities include making sure power plants in the 38th District continue to thrive, fully securing a buyer and developer for the Hennepin steel site, protecting landowners from a controversial high-voltage overhead transmission line called Rock Island Clean, creating a better business climate for business owners in the 38th District, expanding internship opportunities for local students, securing more resources to help communities fight flooding, and helping mothers and families get a leg up. Mothers are the backbone of families, and I will make sure they are given the tools they deserve from state government to help themselves and their families.
It's also vital we fully fund our schools. When speaking with parents, teachers, and administrators, they are beyond frustrated with Springfield underfunding education. Right now, because of budgets democrats passed, schools are receiving 89% of what they are supposed to receive. That's just wrong. A common sense solution to this is legislation that would fully fund the education formula. Make it 100%. Every school district wins under this piece of legislation. This is something at the top of my list when we return to Springfield. I am hopeful with a new Governor, we can make this legislation a reality or come up with another solution to help all of our schools, students, and teachers.
These are my priorities because the people who live in the 38th District are hardworking, family-oriented, have great values, and deserve to see their neighborhoods, schools, and businesses thrive. I look forward to making these priorities a reality.
State Senator Sue Rezin
Top: Sue in the Senate Chamber during Inauguration Day.
Next: Sue with Lt. Governor Sanguinetti
Next: Sue with Leader Rodagno (left) and the newest State Senator, Neil Anderson and his family from the Quad Cities
Next: Governor Rauner with Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti
Next: Governor Rauner signs an Executive Order
Next: Governor Rauner in the Senate Chamber
Bottom: Sue escorts Governor Rauner out of the Senate Chamber
Children of Veterans' U of I Tuition Waiver
There is a state law that provides for the University of Illinois to award one tuition waiver per identified military conflict selected by the General Assembly per each of the 102 counties for the children of veterans of specified conflicts.
Applications were available starting December 1, 2014. Priority is given to applications received by March 1, 2015, and applicants will be notified by April 1, 2015. Application process for un-awarded conflicts closes October 1, 2015.
A candidate must be a permanent resident of the Illinois County from which he/she applies. The tuition waiver covers four consecutive years of in-state tuition (for undergraduate, graduate, or professional studies) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, Health Sciences Center, or Springfield Campus.
A parent who served during World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Conflict, the Southwest Asia Conflict, Operation Enduring Freedom, and/or Operation Iraqi Freedom must meet the guidelines listed on application. These are the conflicts the General Assembly has identified.
A new complete application must be submitted each year if one applied in the past and was not selected. Supporting documents (copies of ACT scores, military paperwork) from past applications are not reviewed.
The conflicts eligible were approved by the General Assembly. I recognize there are current conflicts which deserve recognition, but this is how they have written the law. If you believe these should be changed, I suggest you contact your State Legislator.
For details please go to: http://www.osfa.illinois.edu/aid/scholarships/waivers_COV.html
Senate Week in Review
A sobering new report is out on Illinois’ troubled economy. Meanwhile, the Rauner administration begins an effort to create job opportunities for minorities and veterans while the state’s domestic energy industry is poised to bloom said State Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Peur) said.
Elsewhere, a new effort is proposed to take statewide a successful local program to combat heroin overdoses.
Governor’s Opening Act on Jobs
Sen. Rezin said the new Rauner administration has made job creation one of its top priorities. While the Legislature won’t begin actual law-making until February, the Governor is already taking action where and when he can to address the issue, including obtaining the information he said he needs to craft a successful jobs program.
Rauner signed an Executive Order Jan. 19 to increase hiring opportunities for minorities and veterans by first evaluating the existing level of job opportunities. The order instructs labor groups, contractors or subcontractors doing business with state government to report the number of minorities and veterans participating in any currently offered training program. The Governor said the order is designed “to ensure jobs and business opportunities are open to everyone, but especially those who serve our country or are underrepresented in the economy.”
IllinoisEnergy: Job Creation Awaits
According to a study conducted for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, the potential benefits of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to extract oil and natural gas resources from deep underground could mean up to 47,000 jobs and more than $9 billion in economic impact for Illinois.
The Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources reports, to-date only one company Strata-X, Inc. of Denver, Colorado has registered and been approved for the work. Fracking involves using a mixture of water, chemicals and sand to crack rock formations deep underground and release trapped oil and gas. The process has been a boon to job creation and economic development in other states. However, as the State Journal Register recently reported, there are concerns the nearly year-and-a-half delay between the signing of the Fracking Law and final approval of rules governing the process may have slowed interest and pushed back decisions by other companies to get involved.
The Senate Republican Caucus was united in its support of the legislation when it passed during the spring 2013 legislative session because of its potential to create good-paying jobs and the contribution it would make to economic growth resulting in an increase in revenues for a debt-laden state government.
Preparing for New Energy Jobs
Meanwhile, one downstate Illinois community college says it will offer a degree program beginning this fall to educate workers in preparation for the new job opportunities in the state’s growing oil and gas industry.
Lincoln Trail College (LTC) announced the new program this month, which was developed with input from local industry leaders. The Petroleum Drilling Technology program offers students an Associate in Applied Science Degree. The College said in a news release that the program includes, “the planning, development and operation of oil and natural gas extraction and processing facilities.”
LTC said the Illinois Department of Employment Security predicts a job increase of 23.2 percent for oil and gas laborers, 23.6 percent for oil and gas rotary drill operators and 24.1 percent for oil and gas derrick operators over the next seven years.
Efforts to expand job creation and put Illinoisans to work are critical to reducing the sky-rocketing number of Illinoisans relying on state assistance. A new report on Illinois’ long-suffering economy reveals a sobering fact: dependence on the food stamp program is at an all-time high in Illinois.
More Food Stamps; Fewer Jobs
According to the Illinois Policy Institute, an independent research organization, Illinois ranked last among the 12 Midwest states in job creation during 2014. The IPI report also revealed that the number of Illinois households receiving food stamps last year hit a record high of 1,073,279.
Citing figures from the Illinois Department of Human Services, IPI reported “The total number of Illinoisans on food stamps jumped by 37,500 in December.” The Institute’s report stated that in 2014, “An additional 60,000 Illinoisans were added to the food-stamp rolls against a mere 27,600 new jobs created in the state.”
Reducing Heroin Fatalities
Republican State Senator Michael Connelly is sponsoring legislation this spring to expand a suburban Chicago program that provides emergency medical care to prevent heroin drug overdoses.
Under Sen. Connelly’s proposal, school nursing personnel across the state would be allowed to administer the life-saving NARCAN antidote (drug name: Naloxone) that reverses the effects of an overdose. Similar to a current law allowing school personnel to administer “epi-pens,” which help reverse anaphylactic shock, the new legislation would make school districts and authorized personnel immune from civil liabilities if NARCAN is administered in “good faith.”
Reports of heroin addiction and deaths from overdose have been widely reported across the state in recent years. Legislative activity by the Senate and House in 2014 included hearings at the Capitol and in communities struggling with a huge increase in the use of the drug.
Sen. Connelly said DuPage County law enforcement officials recorded 32 lives saved during 2014 using the NARCAN antidote.
According to the group “Stop Overdose IL,” the use of NARCAN has reduced overdose deaths by 50 percent through blocking the effects of heroin and other opiates on the brain.