Winger's Weekly Wrap-Up for August 28th

New Business Opens in the 45th District

On August 16th Andigo Credit Union opened its doors in Carol Stream and celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Rep. Winger's office attended the grand opening, and the Representative is happy to welcome Andigo Credit Union to the community!

State of Illinois Sells $965 Million in Bonds
On Wednesday, the State of Illinois sold $965,770,000 in General Obligation Refunding Bonds, Series A and Series B of September 2018. The $641,160,000 Series A of September 2018 were a takeout of the State’s $600 million in 2003B variable rate bonds and the termination of five swaps associated with those bonds.

The refunding will eliminate all the variable rate exposure and remove the highest-cost debt from the State’s capital market programs. Proceeds from the $324,610,000 Series B Bonds of September 2018 will be used to refund several series of previously issued general obligation bonds of the State. Total debt service savings of $33,643,047, or 5.89 percent of present-value savings were derived from the Series B Bonds, and each individual bond selected for refunding in this series had in excess of 3 percent present-value savings to the State. The State received bids from 87 institutional investors totaling $4,166,070,000 in orders, or a 4.3 times subscription for the bonds.

This bond issue has an all-in borrowing cost for the combined series of 4.19 percent. The bonds are being issued as fully exempt from federal taxation and are rated BBB by Fitch Ratings, Baa3 by Moody’s Investor Service and BBB- by S&P Global.

“We are very pleased with the strong investor response to today’s bond sale. By refunding the $600 million in variable-rate debt, the State eliminates its highest-cost debt and replaces it with traditional fixed-rate bonds carrying a much lower overall rate of interest,” said Hans Zigmund, budget director for the State. “By refunding other outstanding bonds with higher fixed rates as part of the same bond sale, we maximized savings and minimized the costs of the sale. Taxpayers will realize these savings for years to come.”
Annual State Fair in Southern Illinois Now Open
The Du Quoin State Fairgrounds has been “home” to many events in its 96-year-old lifetime. Huge camping rallies, national car shows and races, horse events of all kinds, rodeos, livestock shows, reunions, motorcycle races, weddings, tractor pulls. You name it, it’s probably been held at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds. The most popular? By far, the best-known event has been “The Du Quoin State Fair”, now in its 33rd year under the ownership of the State of Illinois.

It all started back in the spring of 1923 when a group of successful and ambitious Du Quoin business leaders came up with an idea to sponsor an event that hopefully would attract people from all over Southern Illinois. Too, several owned horses and needed a convenient place for them to compete. Not shy about making big claims, even from the very start, the group called it “The Du Quoin State Fair” because they wanted it to become as nice, as attractive, as well accepted in the area as the Illinois State Fair in Springfield. It didn’t happen over-night. Crowds were somewhat modest in the beginning, in the roarin’ twenties. Nevertheless the Fair did attract crowds of 50,000 or so, at least as reported by probably biased area sources.

Now, with its sights set on reaching the century mark in the not-too-distant future, the Du Quoin State Fair can accurately make many impressive claims. Millions, yes millions, have passed through its gates down through the years as more than an estimated 300,000 do so each year for the Fair itself. For many years -- 1957 through 1980 -- it was “Home of the Hamiltonian”, harness racing’s “Kentucky Derby.” Almost equally as important, auto racing has been an attraction for years. Other than “Elvis”, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand, one would have difficulty in naming a prominent entertainer who has not appeared on stage at the Du Quoin State Fair. It proudly has become Southern Illinois’ most popular attraction as it has appeal to all ages and fans of all type events. This year’s dates are Aug. 24 – Sept. 3.

Governor Signs Legislation to Help Keep Illinois Students in Illinois
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation Tuesday creating a merit-based scholarship program for Illinois students and a task force to help share college and career interest data between high schools and higher education institutions. Both initiatives are products of the Higher Education Working Group focused on making the state’s colleges and universities more affordable and accessible for Illinois students.

“Our future as a state is dependent upon people wanting to live, work and attend school here in Illinois,” Rauner said. “We want to create a place where our young people want to learn and put what they have learned into practice through careers that enrich our economy and make Illinois a better place to live.”

From 1991 to 2014, enrollment at Illinois public universities and community colleges declined by 50,000 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. From 2011 to 2016, undergraduate enrollment at Illinois public universities fell 5,127 students, a decline of more than 8 percent.

Senate Bill 2927 creates the AIM HIGH Grant Pilot Program, a merit-based scholarship for Illinois students who attend college in-state.

“We’ve enacted $25 million in state funds from the FY19 budget for the program that will then be matched by universities for a total scholarship pool of at least $50 million in merit-based aid,” Rauner said.

The funds will be disbursed by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to Illinois’ public universities in proportion to their enrollment of undergraduate, in-state students.

“We have world-class institutions here in Illinois,” Rauner said. “AIM High will make them more affordable for Illinois families and allow us to better compete with out-of-state institutions offering robust financial aid packages.”

Many students in Illinois have family incomes that fall above the threshold necessary to be eligible for MAP and Pell grants, but still cannot afford the full sticker price for in-state institutions.

Institutions will have discretion over the metrics used to award merit-based scholarships to students to meet the individual needs of their campus populations.

“The AIM High grant program is one of several new initiatives designed to slow the out-migration of Illinois students,” said Illinois Board of Higher Education Executive Director Al Bowman. “It makes sense, given competition from out-of-state schools, to offer additional merit-based scholarships so that more families see our universities as affordable. This will also help us attract some of the state’s high school graduates who are contemplating not going to college at all because of cost.”

No mechanism is currently in place to easily share information about students’ college or career interests between high schools and higher education systems in Illinois.

House Bill 4781 creates a task force to study how students’ college or career interest data can be collected and shared between high schools and higher education institutions.

This data will also allow colleges and universities to enhance their programs and services to support the specific needs of their incoming student cohort through more targeted degree advising and counseling for students.

“When students attend schools that support their interests, they are more likely to persist and earn credentials or degrees,” Rauner said. “We don’t want them to have to go out-of-state because they couldn’t find an Illinois program that fits their goals and interests. Sharing this data will better prepare our Illinois institutions for our new enrollees.”

The task force is required to submit the findings of the study to the General Assembly on or before Jan. 30, 2019, and will be dissolved following the submittal.

Both bills are products of the bipartisan Higher Education Working Group, whose work includes legislation signed by Rauner earlier this month that gives priority to returning MAP grant students and streamlines licensing for teachers.

Governor Rauner Signs “Blaze Pink” Legislation to Improve Hunting Safety
On Park District Conservation Day at the Illinois State Fair, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation legalizing blaze pink hunting gear.

House Bill 4231 permits hunters to wear blaze pink clothing in addition to blaze orange. Both colors of clothing are equally visible to the human eye, however, deer are believed to be color blind to red and can see very little orange or pink.

"We want to make sure that Illinoisans are able to hunt and enjoy the outdoors safely," Rauner said. "The new legislation provides more variety in hunting gear while preventing tragic hunting accidents in Illinois."

Blaze orange clothing has been credited for a reduction in hunting-related injuries and deaths. Wisconsin, Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York and Virginia have also authorized fluorescent pink as an alternative color to orange.

The initiative is supported by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Illinois Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus. The new law takes effect Jan. 1, 2019.

“Honor 200” Deadline Approaching for Nominating an Illinois Veteran for Community Service Honors
Eligible are all persons who live in Illinois and have received an honorable discharge from the U.S. military. Their family and friends are invited to submit the names of eligible Illinois veterans who have accomplished significant things for their communities. The nomination form, due Friday August 31, 2018, gives the person submitting the nomination the chance to write down a list of: (a) the prospective honorees’ dates of military service; (b) his or her military service commendations, awards, and decorations; and (c) his or her significant community accomplishments.

Both military commendations and community service will be taken into account in selecting a final group of honorees. The goal of the “Honor 200” campaign is to demonstrate a straight line of correlation between the abilities of Illinois service personnel to work as members of their military units and their ability and desire to use these life patterns of teamwork on behalf of the Illinois communities in which they live. “Honor 200” nominations should be sent to the Chicago office of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The nomination may be submitted online. “Honor 200” veterans will be recognized at Illinois’ Bicentennial Birthday Party and Gala to be held on December 3, 2018.

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