Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to email@example.com
June 22, 2015
In This Issue:
Ø Join in Discussion Over Coffee
Ø Getting more Aggressive in Job Attraction
Ø Comptroller’s Office Sets Example
Ø A History of Innovation in our Area
Ø Some of the Budget Bills Sent To Governor
Ø Auditor General Stepping Down
Ø Pipeline Company Supports Education, Responders
Join in Discussion Over Coffee
This Saturday I will be holding the first of several morning discussions about state issues, the budget and topics important to you. Representative Tom Demmer will be joining me on June 27 at the Lincoln Inn, DeKalb. I hope you will join us at 9 a.m. for coffee and a lively interaction. We’ll also be taking questions from you and look forward to hearing your concerns.
This is the first of several gatherings planned for the next several weeks around the district. Other discussions will be held in Campton Hills, Garden Prairie, and Kirkland. I will keep you posted as the dates approach, but be sure to check my website and Facebook for frequent updates.
Getting more Aggressive in Job Attraction
Last week the House held its third Committee of the Whole this year to hear details about Governor Rauner’s initiative to encourage growth and innovation through the creation of a public- private partnership. Eleven states as well as counties like DeKalb, DuPage, Lake and Will have successfully used such partnerships to attract and work with businesses for job growth and investment in their areas.
As an example, job creation in Ohio lagged behind Illinois until they formed a private nonprofit corporation. Now job creation exceeds Illinois’ effort by 40 percent and new company capital investment in 2014 increased $6.1 billion over 2013 levels.
The Governor’s proposal would create a corporation governed by a board of directors who are appointed by the Governor and legislative leaders. The corporation would be funded by Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) grants and private tax-deductible donations. It would focus on business development, small and minority business incubation, trade and investment, and tourism and film production-- activities currently managed by DCEO.
DCEO Director Jim Schulz testified that red tape, mandates, and bureaucracy have contributed to the state’s lack of success in attracting jobs compared to other states. He said Illinois ranks as an “F” in small business friendliness.
Negotiations between the Governor and Speaker Madigan’s office have addressed concerns about the organizations created in other states. This new more nimble entity would be subject to appropriate oversight and audits, freedom of information requests, ethical constraints, and final approval on all projects from the director of the DCEO.
Comptroller’s Office Sets ExamplePeople who are skeptical that government can significantly improve efficiency or cut costs should listen to Comptroller Leslie Munger. I heard her speak in Kane County last week about the great strides her office has made in just six months to become more efficient and reduce costs.
The Comptroller said she has cut 10 percent from an operations budget that was already as low as in 1998, combined divisions within the office, and cross trained some staff to provide more streamlined services. Staffing is at the lowest level in modern times according to the Comptroller who is putting to work her experience as a business executive.
What was most exciting about her comments was the goal she has to upgrade the state’s computer system and reduce the number of financial accounts and incompatible computer systems. Munger spoke about the inefficiency in managing over 800 different financial accounts and how unacceptable it was to have 263 computer financial reporting systems that lack the ability to interact.
Overhauling the financial reporting system state-wide is estimated to save $300 to $500 million per year according to the Comptroller who added the new system will be phased in over the next five years. Munger added the executive branch is attempting to replicate these improvements and similar accomplishments in other agencies and services in order to cut state spending and the need to raise taxes.
A History of Innovation in our Area
The DeKalb Area Agriculture Historical Association (DAAHA) is serving a wonderful purpose of remembering past innovations in our area and challenging citizens to continue the tradition. The group unveiled its latest historic sign in Sycamore on June 13 at the site of the Marsh Harvester Manufacturing plant-- what is now the home of Blumen Gardens.
The sign approved by the state Historical society tells about the significance of the Marsh Harvester in 1858 and how the Marsh Harvester works was Sycamore's first major industry. The company helped install the city’s first water system to help control fire at the plant according to Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy.
The Marsh reaper-combined the process of cutting and binding the stalks of small grains, and greatly reduced the number of workers needed. The machine was quickly adopted by farmers during the Civil War when labor was scarce because men were off fighting the war.
DAAHA has erected four signs so far in tribute to the innovation of local residents. From the Marsh Harvester to barbed wire, pasteurized milk, seed drying, hybrid corn and the county Extension Advisor, people in this region have demonstrated their creativity and willingness to try something new.
Innovation and education go hand-in-hand. Not only is cultivating the creative mind in our schools and universities important but also teaching the skills necessary for work. I believe we can’t forget the importance of such programs in our middle and high schools to serve the needs of all our students.
Some of the Budget Bills Sent to Governor
The 18 budget bills that passed the General Assembly in May are finally being sent to the Governor. Late last week, two of the bills from each chamber were sent to his office; more are expected to be sent this week. The Governor has stated that an unbalanced budget is unacceptable and he will veto these bills.
The Governor continues to hold out hope that some agreement can be met by the beginning of the budget year on July 1st. Speaker Madigan, on the other hand, continues to resist any compromise with the Governor and appears ready to shutdown state government.
Auditor General Stepping Down
Bill Holland, Illinois Auditor General since 1992, is retiring at the end of this year after nearly 23 years on the job. Last Wednesday he sent a letter to the four legislative leaders announcing his intent to leave his office effective December 31st. He has done an excellent job in his tenure handling it with complete professionalism and uncovering serious errors in government spending.
Pipeline Company Supports Education, Responders
I had a chance last week to witness check presentations by the oil transportation company Enbridge to two local organizations. One $5,000 check was presented to Kishwaukee Community College President Tom Choice for scholarships in engineering, welding, and other related fields. Another check in the same amount was given to Chief Chad Connell and the Kirkland fire department for their costs in responding to the tornado on February 9.
The checks were presented by John Gauderman, the Chicago region manager for Enbridge. The company transports 70 percent of the oil in the Midwest and their pipeline in western DeKalb County has the potential to carry 1.2 million barrels per day.
Here’s hoping you have a dry and a productive week.