Brian's Column 05-01-2015

Visitors to Springfield

As busy as Springfield is, I always look forward to seeing familiar faces from Northwest Illinois. This past week, it was my privilege to welcome regional mayors and county officials Jim Gitz of Freeport, Don Schaible of Hanover, John Huggins of Lanark, Betty Steinert of Whiteside County, and Kim Gouker of Ogle County.  George Gaulrapp and David Gross of ComEd attended Springfield events with me, as did Freeport Park District Commissioner Ken Collin and Executive Director Jack Carey and Highland Community College President Joe Kanosky.

The Caswell family from Stockon
I was also privileged to host members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in Springfield for Delta Day Advocacy.  Joining me were LaMetra Curry-Chatman, Anne Edwards, Luevinus Muhammad, and LaFrancine Baker.  Dan, Beth, Laura, Liesa, and Sarah Caswell of Stockton also visited. I had the privilege to host members of the Highland Community College Student Senate, Rodney Boss, Liz Schemel, McKenna Reed, Jordan Kaiser, and Alexa Buss.

Members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority
Area bank leaders Gregg Roegge of Rushville State Bank, Bill Wubben of Apple River State Bank, Kerry Hoops of German American State Bank, and Scott Arnold of Durand State Bank joined me for the Community Bankers Association of Illinois Legislative Reception. Area Realtors Angela Stodden of United Country Heartland Realtors and Pam Borowski of Realtors Association of Northwest Illinois joined me for the Illinois Association of Realtors Legislative Reception.  And finally, last but certainly not least, I was pleased to welcome students and parents from the Pecatonica Middle School classes of Mr. Chris Dertz and Ms. Jennifer Dunham.

If you are in the Springfield area over the next month, please let my office know so we can arrange a visit.  I would love to meet with you personally.

Budget Cuts Restored

After a seeming constant barrage of bad news concerning the FY15 budget and cuts being made to fill the deficit, we had a bit of good news this week.  The bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability projected an additional $300 to $500 million in expected revenue from income taxes this year.  The economy has improved over the last year, and the improvement generated extra tax funds for the state.

Governor Rauner plans to use the extra tax dollars to restore $26 million worth of cuts that he made on Good Friday, right before the legislature left for spring break.  The cuts affected programs for the disabled, the poor, autism programs, and the Illinois hotline for smokers who are trying to quit. While some of the services had to shutter their doors from lack of funding, they will be able to reopen with the additional revenue.

The $300 million cuts agreed to in late March by both the Governor and the Illinois Legislature are still in effect.  Illinois faces a $6 billion shortfall in FY16, and the remaining extra tax revenue may be used to partially fill that hole.

Legislative Interns

I’m excited to announce that over the summer, I will be appointing up to 5 legislative interns.  My goal is to provide opportunities for our Millennials to return to our area instead of seeking employment and internship opportunities elsewhere.  The lack of jobs as well as decreased community and civic engagement leads to a further disenfranchisement of our youth, but I believe the flood of young people leaving our region can be stopped if area business and civic leaders seek to engage our youth.

The internship positions will involve researching issues that face our region; interaction with business, non-profit, and civic leaders; promoting a community development project; engaging in civic and community affairs; learning to understand local and state politics, special interest groups, and government.  The interns will also engage in personal study outside the 100 hours of required fieldwork and office responsibilities including additional readings, writing, and preparatory work.

Interested persons can apply immediately by submitting a resume, cover letter, and completed application.  Applicants must be able to commit to 100 hours, but the hours can be flexible with the exception of a few specific dates.

While past academic performance is an integral component of our selection process, top candidates will demonstrate a well-rounded approach to work, academic, sporting, civic, and other life engagements and accomplishments.

Benjamin Franklin is attributed with the following quote: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”  My generation can no longer sit and watch as our young people move away to bigger cities with more opportunities.  Now is the time to provide opportunities for them here to involve them in the workings of our region.

As always, you can reach myself or Sally at 815/232-0774 or e-mail us at repstewart@gmail.com. You can also visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com or on Facebook.

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