Sycamore, IL—A select group of area high school juniors and seniors are meeting monthly with State Representative Bob Pritchard to share their views on legislation, learn about ways to influence public policy and gain a better insight into state government operations. The 25 students who comprise Pritchard’s Student Advisory Council were selected by their high school to represent their student body and expand their social studies education. The program concludes with a two-day trip to Springfield to observe the General Assembly in action.

“The feedback I receive at these meetings is essential to helping me represent the district’s youth,” said Pritchard. “I also feel a responsibility to help students take a deeper look into the workings of local and state government, and career opportunities in public service.” Pritchard has been sponsoring the Advisory Council for the past 14 years.

At a recent meeting the group discussed the roles of leadership and ethics in Illinois government. With much attention on leadership at all levels of government this year, the discussion focused on the students’ perspectives of effective leadership and ways to improve ethical behavior of public officials.

“In today’s climate we tend to forget that effective leadership is about influencing others, mobilizing action and reaching a desired goal,” said Pritchard. “Our discussion emphasized these ideas, which is important for these students who are approaching voting age, and must be able to choose among candidates for office.”

At future sessions the Advisory Council will discuss the merits of different bills, making priorities for a balanced budget, and functions of local units of government.

To learn more about Representative Pritchard’s Youth Advisory Council, contact his District Office by phone: 815-748-3494 or e-mail: Bob@PritchardStateRep.com.

Members of the Youth Council are pictured above (from the left): Haley Ackerman, Hiawatha; Josh Lederle, Burlington Central; Misty Villagomez, Genoa-Kingston; Griffin Nelson, Sycamore; Hailey Thurlby, Genoa-Kingston; Ali Thahab, DeKalb; Tyler Hull, Sycamore; Clay Ward, DeKalb and Zimar Siddiqui, Central. Also Tom Sestak, Hinckley-Big Rock; Hank Barnes, DeKalb; Reece Lynch, Hinckley-Big Rock; Noah Whitfield, Cornerstone; Riyana Soni, Central; Joy Ngum, DeKalb; Micah Nordmoe, Hiawatha; Kayla Taft, Hiawatha; and Pritchard. Not shown are: Kate Majerus, Sycamore; Breanna Hamrick, Hiawatha; Cliffton Hansen, Genoa-Kingston; Henry Robinson, DeKalb; Sabrina Groce, Cornerstone; Rachel Hodson, Emma May and Isabelle DiPiazza, all from Burlington Central. 







Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to bob@pritchardstaterep.com

January 15th, 2017
In This Issue:
·         Local Libraries Receive Grants
·         Area Colleges Sign Innovative Agreements
·         ComEd to Pass Savings on to Customers
·         State Economic Growth Continues Poor Performance
·         Illinois  Falls to Sixth Largest State
·         Comptroller Releases Fiscal Responsibility Report
·          Student Advisory Council Discusses Leadership, Ethics
·         Celebrating MLK Day
·         Business Fees Lowered

Local Libraries Receive Grants
School libraries and two local public libraries are the recipients of state funding to expand their collections and complete capital projects.  The Governor released the funds and the Secretary of State, who oversees libraries, announced that DeKalb County schools will receive $16,338 and DeKalb and Sandwich Public libraries will get over $5 million.
The School Library Grant program was designed to help provide more library books and materials for the students of public schools in Illinois. The state legislature has authorized up to a $.75 per pupil expenditure for qualifying schools. The grant award is based on funds appropriated by the General Assembly and the official enrollment as of the previous September 30th per school district. All DeKalb County Schools received funding.
DeKalb and Sandwich Public Libraries received checks last week for the balance of the capital grants they were awarded under a 2009 state program.  DeKalb will hold a celebration reception on February 2 to which a number of state officials have been invited to see the fruit of the investment and thank local banks that provided bridge loans until the state money was provided. 
Honoring commitments that the state makes is important and why I have continued to work for these capital grants to be paid in full.

Area Colleges Sign Innovative Agreement
NIU Acting President Lisa Freeman and Kishwaukee College President Laurie Borowicz recently signed an innovative nursing agreement to expand their academic partnership.  The RN to B.S. Degree completion program is a customized academic pathway that allows students to take classes simultaneously at both institutions and complete with a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree. 
The program meets the increasing need in healthcare for nurses who hold a BSN in a way that is time- and cost-efficient for students. The program includes on-line courses and avoids the all too common problem of course transfer from community college to university. I believe higher education across our state should emulate this spirit of cooperation in other subject areas that will help more adults have the credentials needed to good paying jobs, make higher education more affordable and help address the declining enrollments in Illinois institutions. 
NIU Acting President Lisa Freeman (left) and Kishwaukee College President Laurie Borowicz sign the new nursing agreement and continue a history of collaboration.

ComEd to Pass Savings on to Customers
A state law passed in 2015 ensures that ComEd will pass federal tax savings on to its customers in 2018.  The company has filed a petition with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) seeking approval to pass along $200 million in federal tax savings to its customers this year.
The Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which became effective on January 1st, decreased the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, reducing the amount of federal income tax ComEd will have to pay.  That rate change, in addition to the investment ComEd is making in its equipment and transmission lines through the Smart Grid Law passed in 2015, provides cost savings that can be passed onto ComEd customers.  In Illinois we should celebrate every tax reduction.

State Economic Growth Continues Poor Performance
The December 2017 State revenue report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) documents sputtering economic growth and urges the legislature to do something about it.  The report, on the 10th anniversary of the Great Recession, shows that State Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose by only 3.8 percent from 2007 to 2016.  This rate compares with 9.1 percent for the rest of the Midwest and 10.7 percent nationally.
Illinois GDP grew approximately $25.4 billion during the period led by growth in the Agriculture, Forestry and Hunting sector; the professional, Scientific and Technical Services sector; and Health Care and Social Assistance sector.  The Construction sector shrank 19 percent and the manufacture of durable goods dropped by $6.7 billion.  One bright spot was the manufacture of nondurable goods (chemical, petroleum and coal products) which outperformed both the Midwest and the U.S. averages.
The Commission’s economic team continues to call the General Assembly’s attention to areas of weakness within the economy and, by inference, alter its policies that would create a more robust economy.  During this election season, citizens should challenge candidates for details about their ideas and efforts to grow the economy and make Illinois more competitive.