Winger's Weekly Wrap-Up for July 16th

Rep. Winger celebrates the Grand Opening of Metro Self Storage in Addison alongside Mayor Veenstra.

Report Shows Relatively Strong FY18 Budget Numbers
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the nonpartisan budget accounting arm of the General Assembly, tracked State tax and other receipts throughout FY18, the fiscal management period that ended on June 30, 2018. The monthly report for June 2018 contains final CGFA numbers for the year. General funds receipts totaled almost $42.5 billion for the twelve-month period.

More than half of the receipts were derived from personal income tax receipts ($20.8 billion) and federal reimbursements through Medicaid and other programs. Illinois has to raise and spend Medicaid money in order to get matching funds from the federal government. $5.2 billion in federal matching funds and other federal funds were included in Illinois general funds accounts in FY18.

Illinois’ FY18 sales tax revenues of more than $8.2 billion could be augmented in FY19 by a recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. In the June 2018 decision cited as South Dakota v. Wayfair, the federal high court upheld the rights of the states to work with interstate retailers (such as firms that sell goods over the Internet) to enforce the collection of sales taxes that are being sent to an end-user in that state. The State’s FY19 balanced budget includes a projected $150 million annual cash infusion from sales taxes that will be charged on goods sold to Illinois residents. As an increasing percentage of consumers buy goods online, CGFA staff believes this could be a conservative estimate.
Peach Season Begins
The second week of July marks the beginning of the Illinois peach season. Fruit is grown and sold at farmer’s markets and other locations throughout the State. The tree fruit’s susceptibility to bruises means that quality peaches are often sold and eaten close to where they are grown. The Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass published a tribute to Illinois peaches on Wednesday, July 11. The tribute centered on Calhoun County in southwestern Illinois.

Illinois Employment Data
The “2018 Illinois Economic Report” was published by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) on Monday, July 2. As part of its overall responsibilities as administrator of Illinois’ system of unemployment insurance, the Department is constantly collecting job-related information and insurance contributions from Illinois employers. This database can be used to generate a statistical picture of Illinois’ current economic status and near-term future prospects.

Illinois is currently close to so-called “full employment,” with statewide unemployment having dropped to 4.3% in May 2018, the most recent month for which Illinois has statistical numbers. Unemployment numbers for June 2018 should become available on Thursday, July 19. However, new jobs are not being created in Illinois with the same energy as is being posted in other states. The “2018 Illinois Economic Report” used job numbers compiled by IDES to look at the ten major geographic regions of Illinois, and at specific economic and employment categories within each geographic region, with the goal of enumerating areas of Illinois strength and weakness.

The IDES numbers indicate that Illinois’ region of greatest economic strength continues to be the production of jobs in the Chicago area. Within the Chicago area, job creation is concentrated within economic sectors oriented towards high-level educational skill sets and specific professional credentials. The nine Illinois regions that collectively make up Downstate Illinois are not creating as many jobs and the overall economic picture within these less urbanized regions is not oriented towards the sort of highly professionalized job creation environment that is characteristic of many sub-regions within the Chicago area.

The Economic Report has compiled a wide variety of statistics that closely align with the overall economic status of Illinois households as a population. Labor force participation, wages, employment categories, possession or absence of health insurance, income below poverty level, and eligibility for/participation in the food stamp/SNAP nutritional assistance program are all tracked.

Carbondale Faculty Senate Urges Removal of SIU President
The Faculty Senate, which represents teaching and educational personnel at the flagship university within the Southern Illinois University (SIU) system, expressed concerns this week at the continuation in office of current SIU President Randy Dunn. The resolution calling for Dunn’s removal from office was approved by a vote of 25-1. The vote occurred on Tuesday, July 10.

The resolution and vote followed revelations that President Dunn had developed a collaborative relationship with leading administrators at another SIU University campus, located in Edwardsville. Evidence has been published that this collaboration included secret moves to siphon operating resources away from Carbondale and to Edwardsville. The revelations have sharply divided the two campuses. The SIU Board of Trustees has discussed placing President Dunn on administrative leave.

Born in Illinois, Special Olympics celebrates 50th anniversary
The festival of celebration and support for challenged athletes traces its origins to games held in Soldier Field half a century ago in July 1968. The Special Olympics now offers programs in more than 30 sports, and its meets invite participants from 172 countries and territories. An estimated 5 million athletes have participated in Special Olympics events worldwide and the headcount grows every year.

Soldier Field in 1968 was a Roman-style athletic coliseum, an exciting place for the first Special Olympic athletes and their families. An Olympic-style torch, built for the Pan American Games in 1959, rose at one end of the arena. From 1962 through 1967, Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver held a series of athletic day camps for eligible participants, starting in her back yard near Washington, D.C. Work by Chicago Park District chief William McFetridge, in cooperation with Shriver, were key elements in helping the Special Olympics take this major organizational step upward. The 1968 games were held in a high-status location to show respect for all of the participants and their achievements.

Governor’s Mansion Reopens to Public
The historic Governor’s Mansion in Springfield, major portions of which date back to 1855, has been under complete building renovation since 2016. After two years of work funded entirely by private-sector donations, the Mansion will reopen for public tours on Saturday, July 14. Visitors will have the opportunity to see the historic architecture of a building visited by future President Abraham Lincoln, then a leading Springfield lawyer, and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln. Exhibits in the Executive Mansion will celebrate Illinois art and history.

When the Governor’s Mansion was built in 1855, Illinois had been a state for only thirty-seven years. Construction of the Mansion reflected the boom conditions of the 1850s, marked by rising prices enjoyed by Illinois farmers who were able to ship their crops on the state’s fast-growing network of steam railroads. Gov. Joel Matteson, the Mansion’s first resident, was himself a railroad executive. Now that Illinois is celebrating its Bicentennial, the Governor’s Mansion is itself well more than 150 years old. It is now one of the three oldest continuously occupied governor’s mansions in the United States.

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