AFSCME Back pay due in coming months, Comptroller’s office ready to pay
Several Republican State Senators are providing additional information to those state employees who are expected to receive back pay under the Fiscal Year 2019 Illinois Budget. After years of waiting, the workers are looking for a time frame for when they might see the funds paid out.
Senators say the funds were appropriated in the FY 2019 Budget and the Comptroller’s office is ready to pay them out; however, they’re waiting on the affected state agencies to submit the necessary paperwork to process these payments.
As agencies work to close the door on Fiscal Year 2018, they are also trying to work through the newly enacted budget. At this time it is unclear as to when they will begin to process the supplemental vouchers, however, they have until October 31, 2018 to submit them.
Female senators urge full support of caucus leaders on ethics reform
Following last week’s signing of House Bill 138, female Senators are calling on the four caucus leaders to fully support and commit to seeking additional ethics reforms. They sent a letter to the legislative leaders underscoring that HB 138 was only the beginning of what needs to be done to ensure there is a truly independent, transparent process for individuals to come forward with complaints of inappropriate behavior.
In total, 14 senators signed onto the letter saying they are hopeful the bill will give more people the confidence to come forward. However, they made it clear that more work is needed to ensure that powerful individuals, or anyone working in the Capitol building, can no longer get away with abuse and threats.
The lawmakers note there are several changes they would like to see moving forward, including:
- Adding legislative staff to those employees covered by the Human Rights Act
- Ensuring a closer examination of the makeup and structure of the commission
Cairo River Port
A proposed river port in Cairo is getting a boost from the Fiscal Year 2019 Illinois Budget. The spending plan includes $1 million towards continuing the river port project. Southern Illinois State Senators and Representatives have been behind the initiative, pushing to bring change to the southern region of the state.
The FY19 budget contains an encouraging investment in the river port project for Cairo and the rest of Southern Illinois, directing much-needed funding toward permitting and design costs for the project. Supporters say the river port would have a major economic impact on the region.
The City of Cairo is teaming up with the Alexander County-Cairo Port Authority to develop the project. The initial funds will go towards design cost and permits, which could take a year and a half to complete.
The Rauner Foundation gave the authority $100,000 earlier this year to market the proposed development to companies and investors.
Keep it cool this summer
As part of the Keep Cool Illinois campaign, more than 120 state facilities are available as cooling centers this summer. The locations provide Illinoisans a place to stay cool and comfortable during hot summer days.
Tollway Oasis locations are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Department of Human Services cooling centers are open during normal business hours from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. More locations can be found here in this list of cooling centers.
For more information about DHS Cooling Centers, please call the Illinois Department of Human Services hotline at (800) 843-6154 during normal business hours.
Illinois welcomed record number of visitors in 2017
The number of Illinois visitors hit an all-time high in 2017. Nearly 114 million people traveled to the state last year to “Enjoy Illinois” and give a $1.1 billion boost to the state’s economy. Last year’s visitor totals were 1.4 percent higher than in 2016, which also was a record year.
Travelers came from all over the world for business (17 percent) and pleasure (83 percent). In the past 10 years, travelers visiting Illinois increased by more than 22 million, and tourism has become one of the state’s most important industries. Tourist spending saves the average Illinois household over $1,300 in taxes each year.
“Tourism is a critical part of our economy,” said Gov. Bruce Rauner. “There is so much to see and do in our state. It is gratifying to know that so many people come here each year to experience what we have to offer.”