December 18, 2015
I hope you enjoyed your week and for some of you, the last few working days of 2015! Another year, and it just seems to go by faster and faster!
This week, I had the privilege of touring the Exelon Quad Cities Power Station. I had the honor of touring the facility with my colleagues in the Senate, Senator Neil Anderson (who represents the Quad Cities area) and Sen. Tim Bivins.
Like the several energy producing facilities in our Senate District, this one was equally amazing. The technology, the intricacies of the plant, and the knowledge of the staff are just incredible.
I am proud to represent the Energy and Chemical Corridor of America. We have the most Energy and Chemical producers in this small of an area in the country, and I am proud to represent them, the people who work there, and everyone who relies on them for power. I am also proud to work hand in hand with trade unions that represent so many of these workers. I always jump at the chance to visit other facilities to not only gain in my knowledge of the energy industry, but to also learn more about how energy is making positive impacts on all of us.
This helps me in my role as the Senate Republican Spokesperson on energy and in all energy legislation. Crafting good energy policy – one that also protects our environment - helps us all.
Our district is so fortunate to have dozens of energy and chemical producers in our backyard, supplying millions of people with power at a low cost, employing thousands, and giving local economies and the state’s economy a huge boost. That’s something we should be proud of as we are looked to as leaders in the energy industry from people across the country.
These power producers can play a vital role in Illinois’ economic recovery.
I hope you have a great weekend!
State Sen. Sue Rezin
Coming up in the District
Top: Very proud of my daughter, Alexa. This week, she graduated from Nursing School!
Bottom: Hapy 27th Birthday to my son, Nate!
Flood Alliance Update
From the Ottawa Daily Times:
Members of State Sen. Sue Rezin’s Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance were informed Tuesday by the director of North Central Illinois Council of Governments that a grant competition — which could bring in as much as $55 million to the state — has yet to be decided upon by federal officials.
Read more: http://www.mywebtimes.com/news/local/flood-alliance-towns-among-many-waiting-for-federal-funding/article_939c75c8-30f8-524b-8b9f-3f10552d72f2.html#.VnLhCOOUEYg.gmail
Senate Week in Review
Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders – minus House Speaker Michael Madigan – continued negotiations during the week regarding the state’s ongoing budget impasse and while a budget deal wasn’t reached, it was described as a “good” meeting.
Meanwhile, a recent report shows Illinois’ unfunded pension liability continues to grow, now at $111 billion.
The state received good news during the week regarding high school graduation rates and the overall health and well-being of its citizens. And, for those hitting the road or flying this holiday season, a record number of travelers and lower gas prices are expected.
Madigan doesn’t attend latest budget meeting with legislative leaders, Gov. Rauner
Democrat House Speaker Madigan did not attend the latest budget meeting with legislative leaders and Gov. Rauner. The closed-door meeting took place in Chicago Dec. 17.
In a meeting that was described as “good,” the other three legislative leaders and the Governor also touched on public pension reform, workers’ compensation reform, redistricting reform, term limits for lawmakers, and the school funding formula.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives are scheduled to return to Springfield Jan. 13.
Illinois’ unfunded pension liability grows
A recent report from the General Assembly's Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability shows Illinois’ unfunded pension liability has now reached $111 billion. The newest figure is up from about $105 billion in 2014 and about $98 billion in 2013. The Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System alone accounts for $62 billion of the overall unfunded liability.
Sen. Rezin says this report continues to highlight the need for pension reform that is fair to employees and taxpayers, and that helps Illinois regain its financial footing.
Earlier this year, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a pension reform law.
Higher rate of Illinois high school students receiving their diplomas
Illinois schools are performing better than 30 other states when it comes to high school students receiving a diploma. A report from the U.S. Department of Education says Illinois ranks 20th in the country in its high school graduation rate at 86 percent. That’s four percentage points higher than the national average at 82 percent.
While the national average is the highest on record since the U.S. Department of Education started using a new, uniform measure in 2010, nearly one in five high school students still are not receiving a diploma.
Illinois’ neighbor, Iowa, recorded the best high school graduation rate at 90.5 percent.
Report: Illinois’ health and well-being improving
Illinois is trending in the right direction when it comes to the overall health and well-being of the state’s citizens, compared to the rest of the country. The 2015 America’s Health Rankings report shows Illinois jumped two spots to 28th place.
The good news for Illinois, according to the report, is the state has seen a 30 percent decrease in violent crime over the last 10 years. The state’s infant mortality rate has also dropped considerably – 48 percent since 1990. In the past 10 years, premature deaths have decreased 13 percent as well.
On the other hand, Illinois does have several areas its citizens could improve their health and overall well-being. Among the biggest problems are excessive drinking, high levels of air pollution, and a high rate of preventable hospitalizations. In addition, in the past two years, children in poverty has increased 11 percent from 18.5 percent to 20.5 percent of children.
The last time Illinois ranked this well was in 2007, when it also ranked 28th.
AAA: Record number of holiday travelers and cheaper gas prices/airfares expected for travelers
This holiday season, 100.5 million Americans will take a trip 50 miles or more, according to AAA. It’s the first time AAA has projected at least 100 million travelers during the holiday season. The projection represents an increase of 1.4 percent over 2014, the seventh year in a row holiday travel increased.
AAA says 91 million Americans will drive to their destination during the holidays. Those drivers should anticipate the lowest New Year’s gas prices in seven years, with AAA reporting the national average price for a gallon of gas could fall below $2-per-gallon by Christmas.
AAA expects nearly 6 million people will fly to their destinations for the holidays, and many of those will enjoy lower fares. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares are 6 percent lower this year for the top 40 domestic flight routes. That’s an average of $174 roundtrip.