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The 13th annual Conference of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation was on Friday in Rosemont. The foundation, which was founded in 2002, provides college scholarships, seeks to develop leaders for the state's Latino community, and empower Illinois Latinos. The conference focused on examining the ways that the new digital age can help with access to resources and information central to Latinos in Illinois. Of the 19 scholarships that were awarded, three went to Northern Illinois University students. 
Rep Pritchard with NIU scholarship recipients

State Representative Bob Pritchard tours North Grove Elementary with Maggie Klein

Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
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November 16, 2015
In This Issue:
Ø  Reasons to be Thankful
  Ø  House Shows Signs of Compromise
  Ø  Economic Engine Running on Fumes
  Ø  NIU Helps Attract Federal Program to Rockford
  Ø  Governor Lifts EDGE Tax Credit Suspension
  Ø  Agreement Reached on Unemployment Insurance Reform
  Ø  Groups Challenge New Teacher Candidate Assessment
  Ø  PARCC Test Undergoes Changes

Reasons to be Thankful

As we approach a “day of thanksgiving” next week, I encourage you to take time to count your blessings and give thanks to your creator.  The holiday has its roots with the pilgrims who celebrated for three days their first harvest in 1621.  President Washington proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and President Lincoln in 1863 set the date as the last Thursday of November.
Among my blessings are a bountiful harvest on the farm and the ability to share the fixings for a thanksgiving dinner with those in need.  There are many food pantries, churches, non-profits and other organizations preparing meals for the hungry and help for the hopeless.  Remember them and share from your blessings this season of giving.

House Shows Signs of Compromise
A flurry of movement in the budget gridlock over the last few weeks by the governor and House and Senate members reflects a growing desire on all sides to pass a budget.  There were three significant votes in the House last week that give cause for some optimism even though the Speaker of the House continues to work against the Governor’s initiatives.
The first sign of compromise between the Governor and legislators was a roll back in the childcare emergency measures put in place when the fiscal year began without a budget.  Governor Rauner agreed to raise eligibility for childcare subsidies to families making up to 162 percent of the poverty level and return the ceiling to the old level of 185 percent of poverty once a budget was passed.  Additionally, the governor’s office said that it will establish a bipartisan, bicameral task force aimed at ensuring the long-term stability of the program.

The nonpartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability(CGFA), the in-house budget agency of the Illinois General Assembly, released their October 2015 fiscal report this week. The CGFA “monthly briefing” covers ongoing State revenues, particularly key State General Funds revenue numbers, and ongoing trends likely to affect future State revenues. For example, the October briefing includes a discussion, based on nationwide trends and economic models, of the likely health of the 2015 Christmas retail selling season and its expected impact on State sales tax revenues.

CGFA, working in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Revenue, uncovered continued dismal trends in State revenues this October. Illinois general funds revenues were $319 million lower in October 2015 (fiscal year 2016) than they had been in October 2014. General Funds revenues come from income taxes, sales taxes, and other sources. As in previous months, the decline was paced by a year-over-year shortfall in State personal income tax revenues and corporate income tax revenues. The accumulated deficit for the four months of FY16 so far experienced is $1,456 million. The current fiscal year began on July 1, 2015.

Jesse Huerta may be the shortest man in the building, but he walks tall across the factory floor at Tri-State Industries Inc. in Hammond, Indiana. Tri-State manufactures robotics, among other fabricated metal products. Huerta is the assistant plant manager.

“Every day I see people from Chicago moving out here,” he said. “It’s not because we’re a poor city, it’s not because the government doesn’t have our back, it’s because they know there’s work out here. They know you can still have a future out here.”

“And really that’s what everybody’s looking for, is a future.”

Read more from the Illinois Policy Institute about Illinois' declining manufacturing sector here.