October 29, 2015
I hope you had a great week and have a great weekend planned. Please stay safe this Halloween and don’t eat too much candy (sorry if I sound like a dentist, I guess it’s the Mom coming out in me)!
This week, I want to give you an update on the Streator Hospital situation. As many of you know, earlier this year, it was announced Peoria based OSF would purchase St. Mary’s Hospital owned by Springfield based HSHS and take control of the Streator facility in early 2016. In-patient services are planned to be eliminated. Under current state law, OSF couldn’t operate an emergency room without in-patient services.
Recognizing the importance of access to healthcare for an area of about 20,000 people, I am spearheading legislation (Senate Bill 1381) that would allow St. Mary’s Hospital in Streator to become a stand-alone emergency room. Simply put, it would allow St. Mary’s to keep its ER without providing in-patient services.
I know so many Streator citizens who are fearful of losing their emergency room, one that has saved so many lives over the years. This legislation is critical in making sure an ER stays in Streator and people’s lives and their overall health are not put in jeopardy.
Streator and its surrounding area is too big to not have an emergency room. Without this important piece of legislation, those who need help the most and need it quickly would have to travel nearly 20 miles to the nearest emergency room. That is too long and too risky, especially when people’s lives are on the line. In addition, this would help preserve dozens of jobs for Streator.
I am hopeful the Senate takes this measure up when we return to Springfield on November 10. The House already passed the legislation.
I hope you have a great weekend and Happy Halloween!
State Sen. Sue Rezin
In the District
I had the opportunity to attend the State of Plant address at Exelon’s Dresden Generation Plant. This plant, like others in our district, is so important, not only in providing energy to our homes, schools, and businesses, but for the jobs. This plant alone provides 900 full time jobs and 1500 additional union jobs during plant turnarounds.
Thanks to AARP (Courtney and Bob Flynn) for participating in our Medicare Part D Seminar in Ottawa. Great crowd with some great information!
Thank you to Grundy County States Attorney Jason Helland and the dozens of people who came the Grundy County Heroine Forum. The guest speaker was Tim Ryan who did a great job!
Thanks to Kevin Schramm and WCSJ Radio in Morris for having me on this week! Always enjoy my time talking Springfield issues!
I want to thank everyone who came to our Grundy County Summer Internship Recruiting Lunch this week. Our goal is to add several more companies to our growing list that will take high school interns over the summer. This is Mark Steadman presenting.
Senate Week in Review: October 26 – 30, 2015
As the state’s budget impasse is about to enter its fifth month, State Sen. Sue Rezin continues her call for passing a balanced budget and moving forward on critical reforms needed to boost Illinois’ economy and create more jobs. This comes as Gov. Bruce Rauner announced plans to host a Nov. 18 budget meeting with legislative leaders to help forge a compromise to end the gridlock.
Also during the week, new data on Illinois’ economy gave further proof to the importance of passing pro-jobs, pro-growth legislation.
Meanwhile, the city of Chicago doubled down on a tax-first spending plan, passing a budget with 10 new tax and fee hikes that will cost taxpayers in the city more than $750 million.
Budget meeting scheduled Nov. 18
Gov. Rauner announced plans during the week to host a meeting with the four legislativecaucus leaders on Nov. 18 in an effort to end the budget impasse. Republicans are calling for a balanced budget and pro-jobs reforms to turn Illinois’ unfriendly business climate and fiscal climate around. These reforms include workers’ compensation reform and term limits for elected officials.
The Governor said an agenda for the Nov. 18 meeting will be circulated prior to the meeting.
Struggling economy causing jobs loss, population drain
Seventeen years have passed since 1998, but one thing has barely changed: the number of jobs in Illinois.
A new report during the week found that total nonfarm employment in Illinois is currently about 5.91 million – the same as it was in July 1998.
By comparison, Illinois’ neighbors have fared much better, even with smaller populations. Over the same time period, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, Iowa gained 128,000 jobs, Indiana gained 150,000, and Wisconsin grew by more than 188,000 – all while Illinois remained flat.
In the past few months, Illinois’ economy has shown troubling signs of heading in the wrong direction. In the last month alone, Illinois lost nearly 7,000 jobs, including 1,800 manufacturing jobs. The state has lost manufacturing jobs in eight of nine months so far this year.
Sadly, the impactwon’t take long to see.
According to the latest data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), on average, Illinois is losing one person and $50,000 of taxable income every seven minutes.
Republicans have long argued that a struggling economy leads to the loss of residents and businessesand therefore, loss in tax revenue – and only structural reform of the broken system is going to turn it aroundand help solve the state’s budget woes.
Rauner: More workers’ comp reforms needed
While a Crain’s reportshows the 2011 workers’ compensation reform package is helping to reduce costs for businesses, Sen. Rezin says more needs to be done to make Illinois competitive again.
The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute recently released a study that shows medical payments for workers’ compensation claims have fallen by nearly 15 percent, to an average of $14,513 per claim, down from 17,140 per claim in 2010-2011. Illinois’ average medical payment per claim, however, is still 19 percent higher than the 17 states that handle 60 percent of the nation’s workers’ compensation cases. The Illinois Policy Institutesays that “medical costs have gone down, but other non-hospital costs remain higher than other states included in the study.”
Senate Republicans and Gov. Rauner continues to push for reforms that address causation in the workers’ compensation system. Reform proposals include changes that require an injury claim to be directly related to employment, and one that corrects the current definition of work-related travel.
Illinois still has the seventh-highest workers’ compensation costs in the country, and Gov. Rauner and Republicans continue to push for a reform package that will bring back manufacturing jobs and restore Illinois’ economy.
Chicago approves record property tax hike
On Oct. 28, the Chicago City Council voted 36-14 to pass Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2016 city budget, which includes a record $588 million property tax hike.
The property tax hike represents the biggest such tax hike inmodern Chicago history, adding a further burden to residents already paying the second-highest property taxes of any state in the country, according to the national Tax Foundation.
The budget contained a total package of $755 million in higher taxes, including property tax hikes; a new garbage collection fee; a new tax on online streaming services like Netflix; and fee hikes on taxis and ride-sharing services.
Chicago has raised taxes 12 times over the past three years, according to the Illinois Policy Institute.
Illinois number one in pumpkin production
The Land of Lincoln leads the nation in pumpkin production, growing more than 90 percent of the pumpkins in the United States. Nationwide, 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins are grown every year.
Those worried a moderate drought this fall would have a major impact on pumpkins can breathe a sigh of relief, as research shows pumpkins thrive in dry conditions. The key reason for this is their long roots are able to capture moisture deep in the ground.
Only a small percentage of Illinois pumpkins become Jack-o’-lanterns and Halloween ornaments – the vast majority (85 percent) are canned at the Libby pumpkin processing plant in Morton, which is known as the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.”
Illinois trick-or-treat safety tips
Halloween fun is just around the corner. While children gear up with costumes and parties, it’s important to practice safe trick-or-treating in order for everyone to have a fun and safe holiday.
The website Haunted Illinoishas a listing of trick-or-treat dates and times by community. There, you can also find a listing of Illinois haunted houses and Halloween-related events.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided the following important tips to follow to have a fun and safe trick-or-treating:
Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.
Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don’t run from house to house.
Always test makeup in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Don’t stop at dark houses. Never accept rides from strangers.
Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
2015 harvest nearly complete, but concerns remain for farmers
Only a few crop acres remain unharvested across Illinois. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, both the corn and soybean harvests currently stand at 93 percent complete. Winter wheat, which is often planted after soybeans are harvested, has now been planted on 84 percent of planned acres.
Many farmers are now waiting for soil temperatures to cool off enough to apply their fall fertilizers. USDA samples of soil temperatures showed a range of 45.6 degrees in Northern Illinois, to 56.6 degrees in Southern Illinois.
Farmers are also watching recent rains closely, hoping to reverse a weeks-long trend of below-average precipitation. Topsoil moisture was rated at 59 percent short or very short, with subsoil at 47 percent short or very short.
Most pressing for Illinois farmers however, are much tighter financial pressures this year due to a combination of reduced yields and lower prices for their crops, combined with an increase to the costs of inputs required to grow the crop.