It is that time of year again when the holidays remind us of the importance of family and friends.  It is also a time to reflect, give thanks and count our blessings. My heartfelt thanks and best wishes go out to you and your family this holiday season!  It is a blessing and an honor to serve you.

I wish you health, happiness and peace this Thanksgiving.

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is joining Illinois State Police (ISP) and local law enforcement agencies to remind motorists to buckle up and drive sober during one of the heaviest travel periods of the year. With one of the biggest party nights of the year on Wednesday and more people on the roads through Sunday, police throughout the state are stepping up their enforcement of seat belt law violators and impaired drivers during the long holiday weekend.
The holiday season is upon us and shopping is about to commence. Before you head out on Black Friday be sure the gifts you intend to buy are safe for your family.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office recently released the 2015 Safe Shopping Guide to aid you in your gift buying decisions. The guide provides detailed descriptions of toys, baby products, children’s clothing and other items recalled by the U.S. Consumer Produced Safety Commission.

Since technology gifts continue to be at the top of our children’s wish list, the guide also includes helpful information for parents considering the purchase of a smartphone, tablet, video game or other Internet-accessible devices for their children.

Before you shop, arm yourself with the 2015 Safe Shopping Guide.

FY16 Budget
Leaders’ budget meeting with Governor moved to December 1. The face-to-face meeting is scheduled to bring together Governor Bruce Rauner and the leaders of the four General Assembly legislative caucuses, including House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. Originally scheduled to be held on Wednesday, November 18, the meeting has been reset for Tuesday, December 1. The new time will allow preparations to continue over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Suburban O’Hare Commission (SOC) engaged JDA Aviation Technology Solutions (JDA) – led by Joseph Del Balzo, the former Acting Administrator of the FAA – to conduct a study of a number of technical issues relating to community concerns over noise generated by operations at O’Hare International Airport (ORD).

JDA in turn retained a group of nationally recognized experts in airport noise analysis and air traffic operations to conduct the individual studies. Those experts included Dr. Sanford Fidell, an international author and expert on aircraft noise; Dr. Antonio Trani, an expert in aircraft noise modeling, and former FAA Air Traffic Control experts: Craig Burzych, Jim Krieger, and Rob Voss.
Dueling visions for how O’Hare Airport runways should be used at night were unveiled Monday, with city officials relying primarily on parallel runways and a citizens group preferring heavier use of diagonal ones.

With O’Hare jet noise complaints closing in on 3 million so far this year, two different sets of flight path plans emerged during a sometimes tense meeting of an Ad Hoc O’Hare Fly Quiet Committee.

A consultant for the Chicago Department of Aviation offered some homeowners west of O’Hare — now bombarded with 70 percent of airport departures — an extra layer of relief with one idea. He suggested sending more departing night flights off on an angle right after they leave runways so they could quickly connect into “flight corridors” over less populated areas. Read more in the SunTimes.

FY16 Budget
House Democrats block budget compromise, put politics above solutions.  For months, the Democratic opposition to change in Springfield has called for “reasonable” discussions and compromise regarding the budget impasse.

It’s clear by their actions this week, with a compromise very much on the table, that majority Democrats in the House have absolutely no intention of compromising and would rather put partisan politics above budget solutions.
FY16 budget – CGFA
General Assembly watchdogs chart continued budget picture.  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.
FY16 Budget
Governor Rauner to chair public meeting with legislative leaders on Nov. 18.  The meeting is expected to examine the delayed FY16 budget process.  Although the FY16 fiscal year began on July 1, 2015, a constitutional balanced budget has not been enacted by the Democrat supermajorities in the Illinois House and Senate.  The State has continued to operate under consent decrees, court orders, continuing appropriations, and school appropriations, but this has created many operational problems.  Recipients of State services, and providers of goods and services to the State, have been affected by the lack of a legal budget document.