June 5, 2015
On Thursday this week, I had the honor to speak at the Association of State Flood Plain Managers (ASFPM) annual national conference in Atlanta. I presented to local, state, and federal flood plain managers how our Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance (IVFRA) can be used as a model for any region in the country that deals with flooding.
The Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance is something we established in 2014 after our region suffered major flood losses in 2013. The IVFRA brings communities, local governments, and emergency personnel together so everyone is on the same page and ready to go, in the inevitable event our rivers rise again. We are now better prepared for a flood event in our region because of it. An alliance like the IVFRA can work as a model for other regions in the country so they too can better prevent flood losses.
A big reason why we established the IVFRA is because we were amazed at how little communication there was between our local communities up and down our rivers when there is a flood. This alliance makes sure everyone involved during a flood event is on the same page, while speaking and understanding the same terminology. That goes a long way in saving property, infrastructure, and lives.
In 2014, we hosted a “Flood Fighting School” in Ottawa. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, LaSalle County Emergency Management, the City of Ottawa, and dozens of other community leaders, learned about proper sandbag preparation, how to build earth levees, common failure modes, and what new materials and technology is available that can make fighting floods easier, with less man power. The IVFRA originally included LaSalle, Grundy, Bureau, and Putnam counties. It has since added several more.
We must be proactive, and having a plan in place will help us all battle the next major flood. Like these other communities around the country I spoke to at the national conference, it’s not a matter of if we will have another flood, but when we will have another flood.
The 38th Senate District has about 130 miles worth of river frontage, one of the most in the state. Ottawa alone is the watershed for 12,000 square miles. The state of Illinois has the largest collection of inland bodies of water and rivers in the continental United States. Twelve percent of surface in Illinois is mapped as a flood plain. It’s those reasons why what we do now is so important.
I hope you have a great weekend!
State Sen. Sue Rezin
Pictures from the the Association of State Flood Plain Managers Conference in Atlanta
Sue speaks at the Association of State Flood Plain Managers (ASFPM) annual national conference in Atlanta.
Bi-partisan, pro-jobs, pro-growth legislation heads to Governor Rauner
While Senate Bill 1672 isn't "grabbing the headlines," it's a major piece of legislation heading to Gov. Rauner's desk that will do wonders for the state's economy and job creators. I am proud to be the chief sponsor of it. This legislation is the perfect example of good bi-partisan partnerships and compromise.
SB 1672 would allow Illinois firms needing air permits, mostly manufacturers, to be able to get them directly from the state. We have been talking a lot about fees and workers compensation reform in Springfield, but our manufactures are often times living and dying with the current permitting process, because they don’t know when they will get an answer to their application from the federal government. This legislation will now give them certainty in the permitting process because they will have an answer with their permit application from the state within one year, which will go a long way in helping our manufactures create jobs and boosting our economy.
The fact we were able to reach an agreement with so many different parties (AG's office, IEPA, Sierra Club/Illinois Environmental Council, and Chamber of Commerce) on the language of the legislation, speaks volumes to the commitment of cooperation and a shared goal of helping our business climate and boosting Illinois’ economy. It's a big deal for employers, our economy, working families, and future of our state.
Senior Fair Coming to the 38th District
Senate Week in Review: June 1-5, 2015
Springfield, Ill.– With the Illinois Legislature in the first week of a rare overtime summer session, Sen.Sue Rezin continues to work to address the major problems facing Illinois, including high property taxes; a dismal jobs climate; and a $6.1 billion budget deficit, the largest of any state.
After a tense final week of May, the ball is squarely in the Legislative Democrats’ court, with few signs of compromise emerging. Instead, Legislative Democrats continued full-steam ahead with partisan battle tactics: This week Democrats used a committee hearing in the House on Wednesday to throw barbs at Gov. Rauner’s education secretary, and a Thursday House floor session to force through a non-compromise bill on worker’s compensation, immediately dismissed by Gov. Rauner as “phony.”
Sadly, gridlock in Springfield is expected to continue. Next Tuesday, the Senate will convene in a rare “Committee of the Whole” meeting of the full body to discuss freezing property taxes in Illinois. Late last week, Legislative Democrats killed a Republican compromise proposal to freeze property taxes on a party-line vote in committee.
The battle in Springfield has a consistent underlying theme: Democrats are refusing to compromise and are pushing a major tax hike as the only solution; Republicans insist that pro-jobs reforms and property tax relief have to come before new revenues.
Rauner announces cuts; Democrats propose giveaways
The difference between the two parties was in clear contrast this week, as Gov. Rauner and Senate Democrats pushed forward in two opposite directions in response to the looming $6 billion budget deficit.
Rauner announced a total of $400 million in spending cuts, in anticipation of a lack of agreement by the start of the next fiscal year on July 1. The cuts include:
- Freezing all vehicle purchases for the state police
- Grounding the state’s airplane passenger service
- Closing five state museums to visitors
- Suspending the State Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (SLIHEAP)
- Identifying one or two juvenile correctional facilities to close
- No awarding of grants for the Department of Natural Resource’s Open Space Land Acquisition Development Program in FY 2016
- Immediate suspension of all future incentive offers to businesses, including Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credits.
While Gov. Rauner began the process of anticipating an austere budget, due either to the absence of a compromise budget on July 1 or the Democrats’ passage last week of a spending plan that’s $4 billion out of balance, Senate Democrats went in the opposite direction with a significant spending proposal that would put the state’s balance sheet in even larger deficit.
Their proposal includes:
· Increasing in the state’s minimum wage, to $11 per hour in four years
· Free tuition and fees at Illinois community colleges
· State-mandated employer-paid sick time
· A state tax credit for tuition and higher education
The Senate Democrats failed to provide a cost estimate for their proposals, or an analysis of how much further these proposals would put the state into deficit.
Illinois currently faces a $6.1 billion budget deficit, by far the biggest of any state. Democrats passed a “spending plan” last week with a nearly $4 billion deficit.
Concerns over national economy spill into Illinois
Last month, a troubling report from the U.S. Commerce Department showed reason for major concern over the national recovery. The report showing a 0.7 percent decline in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), one of the most important economic indicators. The report continued to reflect “the weakest performance emerging from a recession in the post WWII period.” The report also pointed to “softness” in retail sales, and a six-month low in consumer sentiment.
Illinois’ economy is particularly susceptible to a weak national economy, with the worst credit rating of any state, a major budget deficit, and the loss of 300,000 manufacturing jobs since the turn of the century.
Illinois’ jobless rate is currently at 6.0 percent, one of the highest in the Midwest and well above each of our neighboring states.
The weakened state of the economy is further proof of why Republicans continue to push for pro-jobs reforms, and a change to the broken status quo that contributed to a stagnant Illinois economy.
Papers: Rauner/Republicans on the right track
Editorial boards in Illinois have expressed concern for a wide variety of troubles facing Illinois, Chicago, and communities throughout the state. As the debate unfolds in Springfield, many have continued to call for a change from the status quo.
On Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune editorialized: “Their party [the Democrats] lost the governorship because the people of Illinois were fed up with the status quo. That hasn’t changed. The people want to fix how this sorry state does business.”
On Wednesday, an editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times said that “Rauner came into office vowing to “shake up” Springfield, which is why we endorsed him, and this is what a shake-up looks like. He is right to demand basic pro-business reforms before he will even talk about raising taxes to fill a budget hole of more than $3 billion. No sense putting good money after bad.”
Illinois farmers wrap up corn planting
The 2015 Illinois corn crop is now officially 100% planted according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The total amount of corn plants that have emerged is now at 94%, compared to 87% at the same time last year, and a five-year average of 88%.
Farmers are slightly ahead with soybeans compared to past years, 82% percent of their soybean crops are planted, compared to the 5-year average of 90 percent. So far, 62% of the soybeans have emerged.
The USDA rates most of the state’s crops as good, with 61% of corn and 64% of corn receiving the good mark, 18% and 13% rated excellent, and only 1% of either crop rated as very poor.