The Macomb Centennial Morning Rotary Club has made a donation to Genesis Garden to help people in need at the emergency center. On Thursday Rotary announced the donation of 6 twin size beds to the Genesis Garden Emergency Shelter. The beds were obtained via funds raised by a club grant from 6460 with all of the funds raised by rotary members. Club President and Regional Media Macomb General Manager Jason Chute said "We have an energetic group of leaders who are committed to Rotary Internationational's motto: Service Above Self. These beds will allow displaced families to have a safe place to sleep while getting back on their feet." You can contact Macomb Centennial Morning Rotary at macombrotary.com.
Signup sessions for the 2017 McDonough County Girls Softball League season are taking place Saturday February 25 at Hy-Vee from 9 AM - 12 PM, and Wednesday March 1 at Hy-Vee from 5-7 PM. You can also get your daughter signed up online now at mcgsl.com. For all of the information you need on the league and how it works, listen to my conversation with League President Laura Whitney and Vice President Brookley Whitford.
Country, R & B, Rock n'Roll are on the lineup for the Illinois State Fair 2017. Organizers of the Illinois State Fair announced the lineup on Wednesday featuring headliner Chase Bryant, a rising star in the world of country music. Bryant is backed by country legends Alabama and Neal McCoy among others. Meanwhile, R & B star Jason Derullo will make his Illinois State Fair debut this year. The 27 year old Derulo has sold more than 30 million singles since he started his solo career in 2009. Veteran rocker John Mellencamp rounds out the Illinois State Fair lineup with a closing night performance that is guaranteed to bring the house down. The Illinois State Fair runs from August 10th to the 20th. Our Kim Howard has more on this year's full grandstand lineup.
It has been quite a year for Matt Bierman as he was recognized as Businessman of the Year at the Annual Macomb Chamber of Commerce Awards. Mr. Bierman is the Interim WIU Vice President of Administrative Services and Macomb Community Unit School District #185 President while also serving as WIU Budget Director at a time when the state of Illinois has no budget creating incredible uncertainty. Mr. Bierman navigated this incredible challenge and the Macomb Chamber rightly honored him for his incredible work. Other honoreers at this year's chamber of commerce awards included Jessica Butcher who was awarded the Chairman's Award for her work with the Chamber. Business of the Year was awarded to MidAMerica National Bank and Regional Media's very own Jason Chute was named Chamber Ambassador of the Year.
It’s time for the Oscars and time for those of us supposed experts to weigh in with our picks. Let’s get this one thing straight, of course the Oscars are subjective and do not reflect, could not reflect, what everyone believes are the best movies or performances. If it was a fan vote Star Wars Rogue One or one of a myriad of Superhero adventures would likely win Best Picture.
Instead, a group of very knowledgeable people in the field of film have gathered to attempt to aggregate their opposing tastes into something that reflects what the industry believes is the best of the best. It’s not perfect, but it’s still a whole lot of fun to talk about and debate. This is my tiny contribution to that conversation.
My choice would be Arrival but that’s not gonna happen. I am of two minds on this one. On the one hand La La Land was near record setting in nominations. On the other hand, last year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy is undoubtedly weighing on voters regardless of the call to simply choose the best of the best. Regardless of the controversy, there are great arguments in favor of either Moonlight or Hidden Figures but it would be naïve to assume that the controversy doesn’t increase each film’s chances this year. That said, I am still picking La La Land to win based on its popularity, artistry and the fact that it has the broadest appeal of all of the nominees.
Winner La La Land
Not much conversation here, Denzel wins for Fences.
Winner Denzel Washington for Fences
This race pretty much ended when Taraji P. Henson wasn’t nominated for Hidden Figures. Emma Stone will take home her first Oscar for her lovely performance in La La Land.
Winner Emma Stone La La Land
Best Supporting Actor
A month ago I would have said that Mahershala Ali was a shoe-in to take home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. But in the run up the ballots being cast Dev Patel has been getting an immense amount of attention. Putting aside the fact that Patel really is the lead actor in Lion, his performance is deeply emotional and personal and the film is a global smash. That’s not to say that Ali isn’t as good but his film has a far tougher subject matter and is much less seen than the wide appeal Lion.
Winner Dev Patel Lion
Best Supporting Actress
Yet another no contest category, Viola Davis will win for Fences
February is National Children's Dental Health Month and parents are being reminded of the importance of avoiding tooth decay because it can have long-term consequences for kids. Pediatric dentist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Mira Albert, says one in three children in the U.S, age two to five is affected by tooth decay. She says while parents are taking charge of their children's health by choosing organic foods and being selective about the kinds of activities they participate in, often trips to the dentist are few and far between.
"Dental decay, especially in young children, can kind of go unnoticed and it can begin to cause a lot of pain and infection that can lead to lost school days and lost work days while you're having these things treated, and it can be quite painful and destructive," she explained.
Albert says tooth decay is preventable. She says parents should take their children to the dentist by age one to help them feel at ease for when they do have to have dental work done. She says they should avoid putting babies to bed with a bottle because it can lead to rampant cavities, and should help them break the habit of using a pacifier by age three because it can lead to an overbite or speech defect.
Albert says another tip is to limit between-meal snacking. When they do get hungry before lunch or dinner, she says to give them low-sugar, low-carb snacks such as apple slices or carrots.
"This constant exposure to high-carb, high-sugar foods and beverages bathes the teeth in these acidic components and lowers the PH in the mouth, and that makes the teeth very susceptible to tooth decay," she said.
Albert says teething is a normal process every child goes through and recommends avoiding teething gels that have medications. Instead, she says to use a cold washcloth, or gently massage the gums with your fingertips.
One person was injured in a single vehicle accident in Warren County on Tuesday. According to a release from the Illinois State Police, 24 year old Michael Scott Goodell of Monmouth was Driving Under the Influence when he failed to stop at a stop sign in the area of 110th Street and 180th Avenue in Monmouth and ended up driving his vehicle into a ditch, up an embankment leaving the front end of the vehicle resting on railroad tracks. The vehicle was then struck by a train. Goodell was transported from the scene and taken to St. Mary's Hospital in Galesburg where he was treated for a fractured orbital bone. Goodell stands charged with Improper Lane Usage, Operating a Vehicle without Insurance, and Driving Under the Influence.
The Bushnell Swimming Pool holds its 12th Annual Chili Cook Off and Auction Saturday February 25. The fundraiser goes toward fixing the cement siding on the city's pool, which is decaying. The event will take place at the Bushnell VFW, with doors opening at 5 PM. For more details on the event listen to my interview with Kevin Crawford and Monica Suter as they run through everything you need to know.
Macomb's FFA Chapter has a number of activities going on for National FFA week. I got the chance to speak with three students from the chapter about all of the events taking place, and the importance of their FFA chapter. Courtney Thorman, Emily Jones, and Zoey Edwards came on K100 to discuss all of this. Listen to their interview below and make sure to check out the Macomb FFA Facebook Page, as well as the Macomb FFA Alumni Page.
McDonough County VIBE is taking applications through Sunday, February 26 for non for profit organizations in McDonough County to partner with. VIBE, which stands for Volunteers Interested in Benefitting Everyone, annually picks a new organization to work with. If you have an organization in mind, send an email over to email@example.com. You can also check out VIBE online.
Listen below to my interview with Cathy Orban from VIBE, as we discuss the application process and some of the work VIBE has done over the past 6 years.
Western Illinois University has announced their 45th Annual Tested Bull Sale will take place on Friday, March 10th. According to a release from WIU the annual Tested Bull Sale will happen at the WIU Livestock Center located at 2265 Wigwam Road in Macomb with registration beginning at 5 Pm and the sale getting underway at 7 Pm. Professor John Carlson, the director of the sale, says that 50 bulls will be part of this years sale with several breeds represented including Angus, Simmental Fractionals and Charolais Fractional. All of the Bulls up for sale have recently completed a 112 day test period and a breeding soundness exam. If you would like more information about the 45th Annual Tested Bull Sale you can contact Professor Carlson at 309-298-1288.
The state of Illinois is celebrating Heart Health Month, University of Illinois Extension health expert Lisa Peterson says that among the many things people need to consider regarding heart health is cholesterol and while you may be thinking that is a well known fact, you might not know just how much high cholesterol effects your heart and your likelihood of developing heart disease. Our Kim Howard filed this report.
Secretary of State Jesse White is reminding WIU students, faculty, staff and members of the Macomb community that DMV services will be available on the WIU campus on Friday, February 24th. Services such as drivers license renewals, state ID renewals, license plate stickers, and disability placards will be available at this special satellite office of the Secretary of State located on the WIU campus at the University Union. Office hours will be from 9:30 Am to 3 Pm.
A movement that started among friends concerned about how women were sometimes labeled and treated during the presidential campaign has turned into an effort to empower young girls, and steer them toward careers in science and technology.
The group 500 Women Scientists began when four female scientists expressed their worries to each other.
They reached out to friends and colleagues with the goal of getting 500 to sign a letter to President Donald Trump, asking him to honor his pledge to be "a president for everyone."
They've collected nearly 17,000 signatures.
Mallory Conlon, who has a master's degree in astronomy at the University of Illinois, says she signed the letter because diversity is crucial to science.
"We see when science thrives, technology can advance and the world that we live in becomes a healthier, safer and more productive place," she states. "So, by getting those new voices, we can really advance science and not necessarily be stuck in a status quo."
The letter, published in Forbes magazine, contains several suggestions, including appointing accredited science advisers in government to promote evidence-based policy; protecting the environment, clean air and water; making science education a priority from pre-K to college; and putting policies in place that lead to equal pay for women.
Nichole Barger, an associate professor of ecology at the University of Colorado, says there are many who are still concerned about Trump's election, but she's convinced that can be turned into something positive.
"I think what we're seeing is more engagement of girls and women in science," she states. "And I think there was a feeling that it could be set back, but I think what we're seeing is a surge forward of interest."
A co-founder of 500 Women Scientists, Jane Zelikova, says the group is urging communities to start mentoring programs for young women and girls.
"That's one way we can ensure that the younger generations that have been feeling like they're not welcome in science have mentors that look like them, that they can look up to and actually work with to further their own interest in science and eventually, make science a career," she states.
The National Weather Service has issued a warning for McDonough County regarding grass fires. According to the National Weather Service conditions on Friday afternoon into the early evening present a high risk of grass fires. Warm temperatures, dried vegetation and low humidity have created conditions that could cause grass fires to spread quickly if started. The area most at risk due to conditions is a southern line from Sigourney, Iowa to Wapello, Iowa over to Monmouth, Illinois. Southwest winds of 10 to 20 miles per hour could allow any fire once started to spread quickly. Outdoor burning from now through 6 Pm this evening should be avoided.
Charlie Day and Ice Cube star in Fist Fight as teachers on the last day of school in one of the worst schools imaginable. When Day's teacher rats on Ice Cube's teacher for taking punishing a student a little too far, Cube challenges Day to a fist fight at the end of the day, in front of the entire school. Jillian Bell, Kumail Nanjiani and Tracy Morgan co-star. Here is my review of Fist Fight.
The Great Wall stars Matt Damon as a mercenary who has traveled to China to trade for a mythical black powder that will be the greatest weapon history. When he and his partner arrive in China they come the Great Wall and found out why the wall exists, it's to keep real life monsters at bay. At the wall Damon's William discovers a cause greater than the wealth he's been seeking in his round the world travels and joins up with the incredible Chinese army to battle the monsters and stop them from taking over the world. Here is my review of The Great Wall.
The Illinois Department of Transportation announced on Thursday that a portion of Illinois 164 near Monmouth will be closed most of the year for bridge repairs. In a release from the DOT it was announced that Illinois 164 just west of U.S 34 would be closed from March 7th through early October while a bridge is replaced. Drivers are being diverted in the area with signs leading drivers to Cameron Road and U.S 34. Drivers are urged to be cautious near the construction area.
Nearly 325 organizations have signed a letter pressing new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to make sure the Justice Department does its job without political interference when it looks at a proposal to allow the mergers of Dow Chemical and DuPont, Monsanto and Bayer, and Syngenta and ChemChina.
Tiffany Finck-Haynes, a food-futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said her group and others want Congress to provide oversight, because President Trump met with the chief executives of Monsanto just before he was inaugurated.
"It raised a lot of ethics questions for lawyers who are very well versed in anti-trust law," she said, "because they said that this is very uncommon; that presidents hardly ever - and really in history, have not - interfered in this way."
The letter said that if all three deals were to close, the newly created companies would control nearly 70 percent of the world's pesticide market, more than 60 percent of commercial seed sales and 80 percent of the U.S. corn-seed market. Trump has said the mergers would create jobs and boost the U.S. economy.
Groups signing the letter include Environment Illinois, the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and Illinois Right to Know GMO.
Joe Maxwell, executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets, said big mergers are bad for the environment, small farmers, rural communities and consumers. He cited climate change as one reason the nation needs more diversified and competitive development.
"There's little incentive for these companies to do further research and development on seeds," he said. "We all worry about having too few strains or genes in those seeds. If we become too dependent, we'll look just like Ireland did in the potato famine."
When these types of mergers happen, said Lisa Griffith, interim director of the National Family Farm Coalition, prices go up and some seed varieties disappear.
"A lot of these varieties that are available from the agri-chemical corporations are GM varieties, genetically modified," she said, "which may not be what the farmer wants."
The 2017 Miss Macomb and Miss Macomb Outstanding Teen Paegents will take place Saturday at 6:00 PM at Macomb Jr. Sr. High School's Fellheimer Auditorium. These are the preliminaries to the Miss America and Miss America Outstanding Teens Paegents.
Last week I spoke with Miss Macomb Board Members Kathy Waters and Kristin Conrad, as well as nine of the twelve competitors in this year's paegent. Here are the interviews, which have been airing throughout the week on K100.
The 4th Annual Cancer's a Drag Variety Show will take place Saturday February 18 at the Bushnell VFW. Doors open at 6 PM with the event beginning at 7 PM.
There is a $7 cover charge and people are encouraged to bring cash to vote for their favorite performer. Every penny from the event goes towards the fight against cancer. You must be 18 or older to attend.
I spoke with Devin Kozicki, Dewain Huelett, and Jonny Miller this morning to promote the event. There is even a demand to get me to participate. As I told our guests this morning, it will be a gametime decision! Listen to our conversation below.
The Illinois Manufacturer's Association on Wednesday released a statement regarding Governor Bruce Rauner's budget address and what it could mean for Illinois Manufacturing.
SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Manufacturers' Association has released the following statement in response to Governor Rauner's budget address:
The canaries in the coal mine are dying. Rating agencies have been warning leaders on both sides of the aisle for years about the spiraling debt and need for fiscal stability, including the most recent announcements. The IMA has continually shined a spotlight on the horrific job losses manufacturers have suffered over the last decade including nearly 11,000 good, high-paying manufacturing jobs last year alone. The manufacturing sector in Illinois cannot afford further inaction resulting in the continued loss of the middle class. Manufacturers employ 568,000 workers and contribute the single largest share of the state's economy. When manufacturing is strong, Illinois and America are strong.
The IMA believes a final budget solution must address the root of the state's problems with structural reforms addressing our pension obligations and debt while restoring fiscal discipline and enacting real reforms that will create a vibrant business climate by attracting jobs and investments. Illinois must address the high cost of workers' compensation, burdensome labor regulations, and reform the tax code to encourage manufacturing production. However, as leaders consider revenue enhancements, we strongly believe that the best tax structures are broad-based with low rates and should not single out an individual sector.
We applaud Governor Rauner for introducing a balanced budget today focusing on the future and the Senate for demonstrating leadership in recent weeks. The time for action is now.
About the Illinois Manufacturers' Association (IMA)
The Illinois Manufacturers' Association is the only statewide association dedicated exclusively to advocating, promoting and strengthening the manufacturing sector in Illinois. The IMA is the oldest and largest state manufacturing trade association in the United States, representing nearly 4,000 companies and facilities.
State Senator Jil Tracy says she totally agreed with Governor Rauner's Budget address on Wednesday. In an interview following the Governor's address to the General Assembly, Senator Tracy praised the Governor's call for a balanced budget and incentives for job creation in Illinois.
Senator Tracy was dismayed to hear laughter during the Governor's address, something she said was never heard during other such addresses by previous Governors.
Senator Tracy is in her first term as State Senator having taken the seat formerly held by John M. Sullivan in the Illinois 47th District.
Representative Norine Hammond says she was upbeat following Governor Bruce Rauner's budget address to the General Assembly on Wednesday. In an interview following the address Representative Hammond said she was happy to hear the Governor reaching across the aisle and pressing a message of cooperation.
Three men were arrested on Wednesday following an investigation into cocaine distribution in Beardstown. According to a release from the Department of Justice, Hector Lopez Herrera and Jose Rolando Acosta-Hernandez of Beardstown and Modesto Favela-Chaidez of Chicago were arrested and brought before a Federal Court Magistrate on Wednesday after they were arrested on suspicion of attempting to distribute more than 500 Grams of Cocaine. The indictment alleges that between May of 2016 and January of 2017 the three men had obtained Cocaine from the Chicago area and brought it to Beardstown with the intent of distributing the drug in the city. McDough County Sheriff's and the Macomb Police Department worked alongside investigators from the DEA and the Illinois State Police to make the bust. All three men face a trial date of April 17th, 2017.
Yanna Lambrinidou, a Virginia Tech researcher and a national expert on lead in drinking water, says older school buildings are especially vulnerable to corrosion in pipes.
"When water sits in plumbing for a prolonged period of time, it has the opportunity to absorb more lead from the lead-bearing plumbing than if it just kept moving through the pipes," she explains.
Illinois has taken action recently. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation last month requiring every elementary school and daycare center in the state built before 1987 to test drinking water by the end of this year, and those built before the year 2000 to do it by the end of 2018.
John Rumpler, Clean Water Program director for Environment America and the report's co-author, says more needs to be done, because lead is affecting children's health.
"It is estimated that 24 million children across the country will lose IQ points due to low levels of lead exposure," he states. "That is a really serious, widespread problem, not just a few cities, all across the country."
The report calls for schools to remove lead service lines, including lead-bearing parts, and install and maintain water filters certified by the National Sanitation Foundation. It also urges school districts to be proactive and take these steps before testing shows lead levels too high to be considered safe for children.
On Wednesday Governor Bruce Rauner delivered an address to the General Assembly on the continuing lack of a state budget. Below is the full text of Governor Rauner's speech.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
“The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion… We must think anew and act anew.”
“We must think anew and act anew.”
Two years ago, our first budget address began with these same words.
Though it’s taken us two years to get here, the events of recent weeks make clear that together, Democrats and Republicans are now thinking anew.
For the first time, legislators from both parties are standing together to say that Illinois must have structural change to grow our economy and create good jobs in every part of our state. That budgets must be truly balanced for the long term – and that to achieve balanced budgets, changes must be made to fix our broken system.
On this, we all now agree. And that is real progress.
But it’s not enough to just think anew. We must also act anew.
For decades, our state passed unsustainable budgets, spent money we didn’t have, borrowed and taxed to chase the spending… and drove job creators out of state.
Citizens in every community of Illinois know that we have been on the wrong track for years.
The numbers speak for themselves.
Since 2000, America added more than 14 million jobs – while Illinois lost jobs. Our neighboring states of Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri added an average of more than 100 thousand jobs. They’ve been pulling ahead while we’ve been falling behind.
Our unbalanced budgets, our crushing tax burdens, our restrictive regulations – they’ve held back the Illinois economy for decades.
For years now, families in Illinois have been voting with their feet. In just six years, we’ve seen a migration loss of more than 540,000 residents. They’re leaving for jobs, higher wages and lower costs of living.
If we had the right policies – if we’d made changes to fix our broken system – if we had just grown our economy at the national average, since 2000, we’d have 650,000 more jobs than we have today…
Think about that. Let me repeat that for emphasis. If Illinois were more competitive, if we had just grown Illinois’ economy LIKE AN AVERAGE state, today, we would have 650,000 more jobs here.
Just as important for our budget, if we had grown at the national average since 2000, even with our actual historic spending, we would have run budget surpluses, we would not have any unpaid bill backlog now, and today we would have 8.5 BILLION dollars more in cash to put into our schools and human services and to reduce our tax rates.
Think about that. We would have good jobs in every community. We would have employers competing to hire workers. Our households would have more income. And we could have the best funded schools in America.
And let’s be clear, Illinois should never settle for being average. We should be one of the ten fastest growing states in America. We have the best people, the best location, the best agriculture, the best transportation, the heart of America – we have every reason to thrive.
We can do this together.
It’s why I ran for governor. To deliver a better future for our children … To change the direction of our state… to put us back on the right path – toward a growing economy, world class schools and restored trust in government.
It’s why we’ve been working for two years to pass a truly balanced budget, to create equal access to strong schools and good jobs.
For two years now, we’ve been asking the General Assembly to help us unlock our state’s unfulfilled potential. And today, we finally all agree that economic reforms must be part of a balanced budget solution.
Now is the time to seize the moment – build on the progress made in recent weeks – and right our ship of state. Together, we can make Illinois more competitive and more compassionate. We can make the necessary changes to fix our broken system.
Two years ago, our Administration proposed a balanced budget. It contained more than $6 billion in cuts, spending only what the state could afford at current revenue. But the majority in the General Assembly simply ignored our budget proposal, didn’t discuss it, debate it or vote on it – just passed their own $4 billion out-of-balance budget. And so our current impasse began.
Then we offered to work with members of the General Assembly to find common ground on a mix of cuts, revenue increases and reform. We convened bipartisan working groups, doing our best to find a way forward together. But the possibility of compromise fell victim to partisan divides.
Last year, we proposed two paths to a balanced budget – two very different financial plans under which expenditures would not exceed available revenue. Our preferred option was once again to work together to reach consensus on a mix of spending cuts, revenue increases and changes to grow our economy. We offered more compromises. We took things off the table in hopes of getting an agreement.
Our Budget Director convened a bipartisan working group to craft a balanced budget. Thank you to the courageous and principled members of the General Assembly - Democrats and Republicans in both chambers - who worked together to find a grand bargain. They nearly reached an agreement last spring. But once again, the possibility of compromise fell victim to partisan divides. By the end of the last legislative session, the majority in the General Assembly couldn’t agree on any kind of budget – balanced or not.
This isn’t about pointing fingers or assigning blame. We are where we are. It’s not about the past; it’s about how we move forward together. It’s not going to help us move forward if right after this speech, Democrats run to the media claiming we’ve never proposed a plan to balance the budget. And it’s not going to help us move forward if Republicans run to the media to point out that the Democratic legislature’s never passed a balanced budget.
People want to see us get something done – to get a balanced budget to change our broken system. To grow more jobs and better support our schools so they’re the best in America.
So today, we are here once again with our hand outstretched to the Leaders and members of the General Assembly. Between ongoing budget negotiations in the Senate and all of our leaders acknowledging the need for change, there is good reason for optimism.
Now is the time to take the next step and get the job done.
Some people argue we should just cut our way out of our budget problems. Others believe we should simply raise taxes and declare the budget crisis solved.
But we can’t tax our way to prosperity. Nor can we just cut our way to a better future. We must grow our way to the future we want. Growth is the solution. Growth means jobs. Growth means expanding revenues. Growth means the economy expands faster than government spending. Growth means a sustainable future where job creation surges and our schools are the envy of the world.
Some people think spending cuts are too hard, that economic changes are too difficult. Just raise taxes and call it a day. Let’s be clear. We cannot tax our way to a long-term balanced budget.
Illinois residents and job creators are already saddled with the highest property taxes and the 5th highest overall tax burden in the nation. We’ve tried raising taxes to balance the budget before, without making structural changes to control spending and grow the economy. It has never worked. Taxing our way to a balanced budget would only hasten the exodus of jobs and families from Illinois – an unacceptable option for members of both parties.
I’ve repeatedly said that I will consider revenue increases if we stand together to make the job-creating changes we need. But structural changes to spending are absolutely essential to balance the budget, and to keep it balanced.
Today, over 60% of the state’s general revenues – roughly $20 billion – are locked up by statute. No Governor can effectively reduce spending until we address automatic spending categories like pensions, Medicaid and transfers out.
Ultimately, it’s all about jobs. Our future depends on offering strong schools and vast job opportunities across our state. By becoming more competitive with our neighbors. By creating good jobs not only in Chicago, but in Rockford, Moline, Peoria, Decatur, Galesburg, Quincy, Carbondale and every community in between. By giving families and job creators good reason to come, and stay, in Illinois.
If we do those things, if we grow our economy, if we become more competitive, more attractive - Illinois will see immediate results, and our state will be a destination for families and employers from across the country and around the world.
Today we present you with a balanced budget that shows what is possible if we all come together on a comprehensive approach to state finances and job creation. Our proposal for the coming fiscal year focuses on the future.
It shows how Illinois can be more compassionate if we become more competitive. While proposing economic changes, it also focuses on the fabric of our society – investing in schools, public safety, criminal justice reform and human services.
We propose a record level of funding for our schools. We supported our K-12 schools at an unprecedented level in the last school year, and then we came back and did even more for this school year. Let’s begin to implement the recommendations of the school funding reform commission to make sure every child gets a shot at the American dream, no matter where they live. Let’s increase our general state aid and funding to other programs that benefit all schools. Education is the cornerstone of our future and this investment will pay great dividends in the long run.
We propose that for the first time since 2010, the state fully fund regular transportation costs for schools around the state – enabling them to get kids to and from career and technical education programs. School districts shouldn’t have to scramble to find a way to pay for transportation costs. Our budget ends this proration once and for all.
Our proposal increases funding for English learners and early childhood education. And it maximizes important federal dollars that build technology infrastructure in our schools.
When it comes to higher education, we understand the hardship being felt by students who rely on state assistance to go to college. That’s why we’re proposing a 10 percent increase to MAP Grant funding – so those students can focus on learning, and not their next tuition bill.
Our budget prioritizes public safety and proposes funding for two Illinois State Police cadet classes, adding new troopers to our law enforcement ranks. Those officers will allow us to send more patrols to the Chicago area expressways to counter the violence that has spilled over on to the highways.
Today we are fortunate to be joined by Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz, and Captain Chris Campbell and Lt. Freddie Outlaw of the Illinois State Police Academy. Please join me in thanking them for their great service to our state!
We recognize the growing danger of opioid abuse across our state. And we highlight the need for a comprehensive strategy: prevention, interdiction and treatment; education, law enforcement and human services. State, local and federal partnerships. This is a crisis – and we need to confront it head on before we lose more young lives.
We look to build upon our recent accomplishments with Criminal Justice Reform. We propose full funding for the Kewanee and Murphysboro Correctional life skills and reentry centers so that they can offer educational and job readiness courses to help better prepare offenders to leave custody and find jobs, live on their own, and get a second chance in life.
We fully fund mental health facilities in Joliet and Elgin…and provide the necessary support for residential treatment centers in Pontiac, Logan and Dixon.
We know the challenges facing human services … that is why our proposal increases support for Child Care and other programs that assist children, senior citizens, and our other most vulnerable residents.
We continue to support our efforts to reduce childrens’ exposure to lead in paint and drinking water and financially support those efforts.
We recommend full funding for home visiting and early intervention programs.
We propose a continued transformation of the Department of Children and Family Services by hiring additional employees to work solely on child protection investigations and compliance monitoring of programs.
And we look to strengthen services for the men and women who have put their lives on the line for our nation by delivering start-up funding for a new Illinois Veterans Home in Chicago.
Our transportation network is one of Illinois’ greatest assets, and it is a primary reason why job creators choose to make our state home. This year we propose increasing the road program at the Illinois Department of Transportation by $200 million, so that we can continue to be a leader in moving people and products throughout our nation and reinforce the message that Illinois is a great place to invest and expand.
At the same time, we look to fund long-overdue maintenance and repairs at state facilities…and invest in our technology transformation to ensure that state government becomes more efficient, responsive and transparent for the people we serve.
Our spending proposals are significant, but if we came together under our proposal, if we came together on a grand bargain, we’d actually spend $3 billion less than government is currently spending.
In order to achieve those results, we propose a number of changes inside state government to improve services and save taxpayer money.
Pension reforms, in addition to President Cullerton’s consideration model, can save us a billion dollars right off the bat. A new hybrid pension Tier III plan could give new employees more options while saving the state money.
If we do nothing, we can expect our pension costs to grow by $1 billion in just the next year. Those payments put an unsustainable strain not only on our pension systems, but on the state’s ability to pay for our schools and other critical services.
We must act, and time is of the essence.
We will continue to pursue improvements in our state employee contracts – to make reasonable changes like moving state employees from a 37.5-hour to a 40-hour work week before overtime kicks in. And we’ll base employee pay on merit, not just seniority. We have successfully negotiated contracts with similar parameters with 20 Labor Unions in the state, and we’ll continue to seek these common-sense changes throughout state government.
We must address the accelerating cost of state employee and retiree health insurance.
Most Illinois families have seen their health insurance premiums skyrocket. Business owners across the country are forced to make hard decisions to manage soaring health costs. So imagine what Illinois families think when they hear our state employees get “Cadillac platinum” coverage for barely more than bronze rates.
We cannot continue to ask taxpayers to pay more to subsidize state employee health care –when they’re seeing their own premiums go up and coverage go down.
Our state employees should have health care options just like everyone else – and it is reasonable that they pay for those options in line with everyone else.
Bringing the state employee health insurance program more in line with the private sector would save our state half a billion dollars.
There are other opportunities for budget savings. We need to cut the red tape in how the state buys goods and services. It’s time to implement best practices and take advantage of cooperative purchasing opportunities to ensure taxpayers get the biggest bang for their buck. Procurement reform could save us hundreds of millions next year alone.
Together, we can move forward with selling the James R. Thompson Center. The JRTC occupies an entire city block of prime real estate in the Chicago Loop. For years, the State has failed to properly maintain the building; and now we face deferred maintenance costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Everyone benefits from the sale. The city of Chicago stands to gain major new property tax revenue, along with the jobs that come with a massive development. The state could see a net gain of over $200 million from the sale, helping us close the budget deficit in the next fiscal year.
Every day, we’re implementing efficiencies in education, criminal justice, health and human service programs and information technology that improve outcomes and save us money.
Those savings are significant. Those efficiencies will make a difference. But NOTHING is more important than creating MORE JOBS IN ILLINOIS.
We’ve made our top priority clear from the beginning – driving real change to move the needle on job creation in our state. The only way to keep budgets balanced in the future is to ensure economic growth outpaces government spending growth. Together, let’s look at each regulation we have, at every law we pass, and ask ourselves a simple question: how does this impact job creators? Is the benefit of this rule worth the cost in lost jobs? That’s the essential question that can guide our decisions every day.
Job creators and relocation firms tell us that rooting out fraud and abuse from the worker’s compensation system and getting highest-in-the-country property taxes under control are two of the most important ways to make Illinois more competitive. Very high workers’ comp insurance costs in the private sector continue to drive businesses out of state – and in the public sector, they contribute to higher property taxes. Changes are necessary to attract employers and create new jobs.
And we will never stop working to get term limits and redistricting on the ballot in Illinois – to send a message to job creators across the country that our state is doing things differently than we have in the past.
These changes are necessary to producing long-term balanced budgets and long-term financial stability. They are THE items that can ensure Illinois not only survives, but thrives, for generations to come.
As we’ve said repeatedly, there is no one single bullet, no one single “must have,” for our Administration. But for the future of our state, change must be real, not just a newspaper headline.
Senate President Cullerton, Leader Radogno and Senate lawmakers have shown tremendous leadership in bringing all parties together to find common ground on a combination of spending cuts, revenue, and changes that will create jobs and ensure long-term balanced budgets. Standing here three weeks ago, I encouraged them to keep working, to never give up…and they have done just that.
We’ve made a point of letting the Senate move forward… trying not to disrupt momentum. But I’d like to take a few minutes to help guide the negotiations to a place where Democrats and Republicans can reach agreement, and I can affirm my support for the package.
First and foremost: the final result must be a good deal for taxpayers and job creators: a grand bargain that truly balances the budget once and for all, and really moves the needle when it comes to job creation.
A good deal for taxpayers lays the foundation for balanced budgets for years to come. The budget must truly balance by the end of Fiscal Year 2018 – and it must balance in a way that doesn’t send us right back into deficit a few years from now.
That means a hard cap on spending that forces state government to live within its means, balance the budget and pay off the state’s debt. Spending reductions in the budget need to be real – not smoke and mirrors. Long-term pension reform needs to maximize savings in all pension systems.
As for revenue, we’ve always said that we’d consider revenue if it comes with changes that create jobs and grow the economy.
The current Senate proposal calls for a permanent increase in the income tax rate but offers only a temporary property tax freeze in exchange. That’s just not fair to hard-working taxpayers across the state.
We need a permanent property tax freeze in Illinois, just like the one the House passed last month. Over time, as our economy grows and revenues expand, any increase in the income tax could be stepped down – dedicating future surpluses to taxpayers, not more government spending.
The current Senate proposal would expand the state’s sales tax to cover everyday services, and raise taxes on food and drugs. We’re open to a broader sales tax base to mirror neighboring states like Wisconsin, but let’s make sure it’s best for the people of Illinois, not for the lobbyists in Springfield. We cannot raise taxes on people’s groceries and medicine – just as we cannot tax people’s retirement incomes. We can find a way to balance the budget without hurting lower-income families and fixed-income seniors.
We must all support raising the earned income tax credit to help low-income families. And we must support making the research and development tax credit permanent to encourage innovation and job creation.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, a good deal for taxpayers comes with economic and regulatory changes that are significant enough for job creators to get excited about the future of Illinois.
Term limits get job creators excited. Passing term limits is one of the most important things we can do to send a positive recruiting message to job creators: “it’s a new day in Illinois, we’ve turned the corner.”
Workers comp changes get job creators excited. We must get our worker’s compensation costs in line with other states. We’re asking for a worker’s compensation system that matches Massachusetts. Massachusetts is a blue state with a strong middle class--and it’s growing.
Now, those parameters aren’t controversial– they’re right in line with what Democrats and Republicans have said they agree with. And while the Senate package is still evolving, it wouldn’t be that hard to reach a good deal for taxpayers.
I firmly believe that we can come to agreement on these issues. And I pledge to you that I will sign that good deal for taxpayers the minute it arrives at my desk.
This is now a question of political will. I’m know I’m willing-- I hope you are too.
As we discussed last month: Illinois faces incredible challenges. But those challenges also provide unprecedented opportunity.
We are at a crossroads. If we work together and make the right decisions now, the potential of our state is unlimited. Let’s put Illinois back on the road to prosperity. Let’s do what we were sent here to do.
Thank you. God bless each of you, God bless our great state of Illinois and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
Roy Wood Jr. is best known for his uproarious Daily Show segments shining a satirical spotlight on the day's political headlines. Roy's primary gig however is as a stand-up comic and this weekend fans can see him on stage in his very first Comedy Central one hour special. Father Figure finds Roy tackling big topics like politics and race but predominately the show is about things like Smoothies, Lettuce and why College Football fans are so mad all the time. Roy Wood Jr. talks about The Daily Show and his new special Father Figure with me, Sean Patrick, in our latest MacombNewsNow Celebrity interview. Father Figure airs on Comedy Central Sunday night at 10 Pm. You can also get more of Roy Wood Jr's stand-up on his website RoyWoodJr.com.
A bill in the Illinois Legislature that would make safety belts on school buses mandatory has received support from the Secretary of State. Secretary Jesse White released a statement on Tuesday in support of the bill which would require a three point safety belt on all school bus seats. Our Kim Howard in Springfield has more.
Western Illinois University will be hosting the Red Cross on Thursday for a blood drive. Representatives of the Red Cross will be set up at Horrabin Hall on the WIU campus from 11 Am to 4 Pm for blood donations. There is an extraordinary need for blood donations in the state of Illinois so anyone with the opportunity to give is asked to do so Thursday. Horrabin Hall is located at Western Avenue and University Drive on the WIU campus.
After numerous students stayed home sick on Monday officials with the Bushnell Prairie City High School and Junior High decided to cancel school on Tuesday and will remain closed on Wednesday as well. All after school activities at each school have been cancelled as well for Tuesday and Wednesday. School schedules should be back to normal on Wednesday though other school districts in the state of Illinois have considered cancelling the full week due to the latest flu outbreak.
McDonough County Sheriff Rick Van Brooker and Macomb Police Chief Curt Barker released a joint warning to residents regarding a spate of recent phone scams. According to the release, residents across Macomb and McDonough County have received phone calls from people claiming to represent local law enforcement and claiming that a family member has an arrest warrant that can be alleviated if the subject of the scam calls back to a different phone number and provides payment via pre-paid gift cards. The card numbers would be given to caller as a form of payment. The second scam involves the scammer posing as a representative of Ameren and claiming that the subject's power is about to be cut off unless they provide payment immediately. The scammer then directs the subject as to how to pay the supposed bill. Each of the scams are aided by new technology that allows the phone number to look like it legitimately is coming from in town and could plausibly be a number for either local law enforcement or Ameren. Anyone receiving calls like the ones described should get in touch with actual authorities as soon as possible.
The Macomb Chamber is celebrating yet another new member business. On Monday, the Macomb Chamber of Commerce participated ina ribbon cutting at Counceling Cares at 233 South McArthur Street in Macomb. Counceling Cares, which serves both individuals and families in need of counseling, officially joined the Macomb Chamber in January. You can find out more about Counseling Cares by contacting the chamber of by going to CounselingCares.com.
A campaign has been launched in Illinois to save Medicare. AARP is trying to rally state residents to write or call members of Congress to save the program that affects millions of people.
AARP State Director Bob Gallo says a new voucher plan that's being discussed to replace Medicare as we know it would have a negative effect on those who rely on the program. He says a voucher system would dramatically increase health-care costs and make them unaffordable for many on a fixed income.
"If they have a situation where they need to go to a doctor or a hospital, a voucher probably would not cover all of the costs and you would have folks who would be responsible for thousands and thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket costs," he explained.
Gallo says it's not just an issue that impacts seniors, he says gen-X-ers and millennials are at risk too, adding that about 20 percent of Illinoisans are between the ages of 50 and 64 today and will transition into Medicare over the next 15 years.
Gallo says two million Illinois residents are enrolled in Medicare now, with the numbers going up every day. He says a retiree with an annual income of less than $25,000 already is spending one-out-of-six dollars on health care.
"What this would wind up doing is that only people who have very significant means - who are wealthy, rich, however you want to categorize that - would be the ones who would be getting the best health care," he added.
Gallo believes the squeaky wheel does get attention.
"It matters tremendously right now," continued Gallo. "There are going to be mid-term elections coming up in two years, and now's the time to share with elected officials who are in office what you are concerned about and what you want them to represent you on."
The McDonough County Genealogical Society has announced a brand new book length history of McDonough County project. According to a release from the Genealogical Society, the book is the first of its kind in more than a quarter of a century and will detail the history of McDonough County familes, businesses, schools and more. The Genealogical Society is soliciting the help of McDonough County residents for the project and you can help out by contributing your family history to the Genealogical Society. Contact Allen R. Nemec at 309-255-5161 for more information and to find out how you can get involved in this unique and ambition project.
Western Illinois University will begin RAD courses this week, on Thursday, February 16th from 4 to 7 Pm. R.A.D stands for Rape-Agression-Defense and is intended to teach WIU students what to do in the event of a sexual assault. Classes will be held each Thursday evening from 4 Pm to 7 Pm through the end of March and will cover topics such as Avoiding Victimization, Patterns of Date Rape and a hand to hand self-defense course. There is no cost for the 12 hour course which will be held each Thursday in the Donald S. Spencer Student Recreation Center.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
MACOMB CITY COUNCIL
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2017
MACOMB CITY HALL
1. Discussion on capital improvement projects for 2017 at Spring Lake Park.
Attached is a memo from CA Torreson for Items 1 and 2 for your review. Discussion is planned.
2. Discussion a new five (5) year contract with Spring Lake Management.
3. Discussion on a resolution to adopt the proposed travel expense reimbursement policy.
Attached is a copy of the resolution and travel policy for your review. Discussion
4. Discussion on a proposed installation of an exterior staircase on the east side of the Water Treatment Plant to access the lime silo in the roof.
Attached is a memo from Interim PW Director Kent Cox along with pictures. Discussion is planned.
5. Other business.
To consider information relative to:
a) Appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of an employee of the public body or legal counsel for the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(1) of the Open Meetings Act.
b)Collective Bargaining matters between the public body and it’s employees or representatives, or deliberations concerning salary schedules for one or more classes of employees, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(2) of the Open Meetings Act.
c) The purchase or lease of real property for the use of the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(5) of the Open Meetings Act.
d)The setting of a price for sale or lease of property owned by the public body, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(6) of the Open Meetings Act.
e) Pending or probable litigation, pursuant to Sec. 2(c)(11) of the Open Meetings Act.
McDonough County VIBE on Friday handed out nearly $60,000 worth of checks to local non-profit organizations. In a release from VIBE it was announced that McDonough County Special Olympics, the Colchester Food Bank, and Macomb After Prom would be among the recipients of cash donations from VIBE to support their activities. The McDonough County Special Olympics was especially honored by receiving more than $32,000 to continue activities. A full list of local organizations receiving funding this year from VIBE is below.
$32,626 to McDonough County Special Olympics
$10,893 to the Colchester Food Bank
$10,893 to Loaves and Fishes
$4000.00 the Bushnell Prairie City Schools towards a new Vision Screener
Reproductive health care advocates are urging Illinois lawmakers to approve legislation that would repeal a Roe v. Wade "trigger provision" in state law.
A House committee last week voted in favor of House bill 40, by state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, which would remove language in state law that says if Roe v. Wade is overturned or modified, Illinois state law would revert to before that 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, and abortion would again become criminal in the state.
Lorie Chaiten, director of the ACLU's Women's and Reproductive Rights Project, said this legislation is necessary to ensure that every woman in Illinois can make her own health care decisions and have access to safe medical care, regardless of what happens in Washington.
"The bill is designed to ensure that there's no risk of that happening, that there's just way too much risk with Trump in the White House," Chaiten said. "We want to be absolutely sure that here in Illinois, that right isn't going away."
A second part of the bill would make sure women who depend on Medicaid and state employee health insurance are able to access abortion services. Opponents have said that amounts to public funding for abortion.
Anti-abortion advocates held rallies across the nation Saturday calling for federal funding to be pulled from Planned Parenthood facilities.
Chaiten said abortion is a personal choice, and every woman should have affordable and comprehensive health care coverage.
"Regardless of how we feel about abortion, we can all agree that when a woman has decided to end her pregnancy, that she should be able to do it through a qualified licensed provider," she said.
She said she hopes the bill will win approval in the House and Senate, and will then be signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
"We don't know what the governor will do," Chaiten said, "but we have every hope that he will sign this bill, that he'll understand that this bill is essential to assure that women in Illinois have access to the kind of health care that they need and that they'll have that access regardless of what happens in the Trump Administration."
Illinois is just one of a handful of states that with abortion trigger laws on the books.