Business & Economy
STATE FARM ANNOUNCES COST-EFFECTIVE BUILDING CONSOLIDATION PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Missy Lundberg   
Monday, 09 May 2011 14:32

May 9, 2011 – State Farm announced today a statewide facilities plan that will maximize building efficiencies throughout a three-state area. In Illinois, two operations centers in Bloomington and Downers Grove will remain open, while ten field offices across the state will consolidate to remaining offices in Illinois and Indiana. Some employees will stay in local mobile-worker roles. Local agent’s offices and State Farm’s Corporate Headquarters, also located in Bloomington, are not part of this announcement.

The announcement is the result of a study analyzing office space capacity and will allow State Farm to utilize technology while gaining operational efficiencies. The company will sell or end leases at the following ten offices over the next few years: Marion, Collinsville, Springfield, Champaign, Peoria, Moline, Rockford, Elmhurst, Tinley Park and Arlington Heights, Illinois.

“It’s our responsibility to our customers and associates to make sure we continually evaluate our business operations to remain competitive in today’s marketplace” says Cathy Wallace, State Farm Operations Vice President based in Bloomington. “Technology allows us to improve our efficiency and reduce facility related expenses while at the same time enhance service to our customers.”

As part of today’s Great Lakes Zone announcement, State Farm will be consolidating field operations from nine to two offices in Indiana and also nine to two offices in Michigan.  These announcements do not affect any of the approximately 1,040 State Farm Agents offices in communities throughout Illinois.

 
Andrzejewski, Morthland Announce “We’re Spent” Agenda PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Katie Vallen   
Monday, 09 May 2011 14:27
Grassroots Leader Pushes Spending Reforms in Springfield to Reverse Bad Budget Cycle


MOLINE – With state government struggling to find a way out of its budget malaise, the leader of a statewide grassroots organization today teamed with a key state lawmaker on a package of commonsense ideas to enact spending reforms in Illinois. Adam Andrzejewski, CEO and Founder of For the Good of Illinois, outlined his “We’re Spent” message in the Quad Cities as he pushes an ambitious legislative agenda that would fix some longtime problems with the state budget.

Andrzejewski teamed with state Rep. Rich Morthland outside Morthland’s Moline district office to explain why the pillars of his public policy agenda respond aggressively to the feeling by many Illinoisans that “We’re Spent” highlighting the lack of action in reining in state spending. The reforms the grassroots leader proposes will get the state back on solid financial footing, both this year and going forward.

For the Good of Illinois Legislative Agenda

·       PayGo Budgeting (House Bill 111): This concept is very simple yet very effective: Don’t spend more money than you bring in. PAYGO restores sensibility to budgeting. If you want to spend more, you need to cut that exact amount to offset that spending increase. Families and businesses do it all the time, so should government.

·       New purchasing for universities (House Bill 89): This measure ensures better overall oversight of how state universities spend their money by creating a universal purchasing system – key at a time when several continue to raise tuition on incoming students, in some cases significantly.

·       Meaningful spending caps (Senate Bill 36): This measure provides real, meaningful spending caps on our budget by limiting spending to 1.5 percent annual increases.

“All across Illinois, citizens say ‘We’re spent’ – they’re tired of more tax-and-spend politics driving the agenda. My plan shifts the conversation to how we can better spend our money – keep costs reasonable and always make sure we have enough money to pay the bills. That’s the only way we’ll ever get back on track in Illinois. I hope lawmakers embrace these good ideas and will work to get them approved this spring for a better Illinois,” Andrzejewski said.

“Adam is dead on with the ‘We’re Spent’ agenda. We can’t keep ignoring what’s putting us in these huge money holes year after year. I gladly join Adam and several colleagues in strongly supporting these initiatives and will work hard over these next weeks to get them approved in Springfield,” Morthland said.

About For The Good of Illinois
For the Good of Illinois is a nonprofit organization promoting self-governance in Illinois by engaging, educating and empowering citizens to demand limited, accountable and transparent government of, by, and for the people. Adam Andrzejewski is the CEO and Founder. For more information, please visit www.ForTheGoodofIllinois.org.


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Iowans Talk Gas Prices and National Debt PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen Chuck Grassley   
Monday, 09 May 2011 14:02

by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Unlike Congress, families in Iowa can’t spend more money than they bring in year after year.  At least not without facing grave financial problems.

Unlike Congress, Iowans can’t increase their paychecks by passing a law to boost their income.  On the contrary, the big spenders in Washington would like to pass laws that would decrease taxpayers’ take-home pay by raising taxes.

When rising gas prices squeeze household budgets, Iowans need to figure out where to spend less to make up for the shortfall.  They don’t have the luxury of a blank check co-signed by Uncle Sam to pay for basic necessities or splurging on items they can’t afford.

Visiting one-third of Iowa’s counties during a two-week road trip in April, I met face-to-face with more than 1,000 Iowans to answer questions and address issues that matter most to their families, communities and way of life.

In county after county, a sweeping majority of Iowans expressed overriding concern about keeping energy affordable.  Filling up the gas tank week after week is eating up a bigger share of family incomes, increasing transportation costs for schools, farms and businesses, and squeezing profitability and savings month after month.

Policymakers and consumers need to use sticker shock at the pump as a catalyst to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.  The United States sends more than $400 billion each year overseas for foreign oil.  Now more than ever, the United States needs to ramp up domestic production of traditional energy -- including oil, natural gas, and coal -- and expand alternative fuels and renewable energy -- including wind, solar, hydropower, biomass and geothermal.  Consumers can help lead the way through conservation and choosing energy-efficient appliances, hybrid vehicles and alternative fuels.  Congress needs to keep energy security on the front burner in Washington.

In the U.S. Senate, I have long championed American agriculture for its capacity to help feed a growing world population.  My work also shaped public policy to give Rural America the opportunity to serve as a domestic, renewable energy resource to help displace oil imports, create jobs, grow green energy, increase competition, and strengthen U.S. energy and national security.

America imports more than 60 percent of our oil.  The U.S. Treasury pays out an average $84 billion a year to defend the shipping lanes by which foreign oil reaches the United States.  Those who want to isolate ethanol’s federal tax incentives and put them on the chopping block need to remember the massive tax breaks the oil and gas industries have received each year for the last 100 years.  There’s an effort under way in the Senate to end ethanol’s federal tax incentives, even as oil and gas tax breaks would remain untouched. Policymakers in the United States should not be legislating to slow down domestic energy production.  Killing ethanol’s tax incentives would cost U.S. jobs, increase our dependence on foreign oil, increase prices at the pump for U.S. consumers, and keep OPEC’s stranglehold on the U.S. economy.

This week I introduced legislation that lays out a fiscally responsible path forward for the ethanol sector.  No one else in the energy field has come forward in a similar way, but I hope my legislation starts a trend.  Today, ethanol is the only source of alternative energy that’s substantially reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil.  Going forward, the sky’s the limit as we move to the next generation of advanced biofuels and cellulosic ethanol.

The mid-term elections in November sent a signal to Washington to stop overspending.  Iowans who attended my town meetings in April asked what can be done to rein in deficit spending.  Washington can’t afford to spend 24.7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (and that’s what’s projected by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for fiscal 2011) alongside two-percent economic growth without saddling future generations with a legacy of debt.

A divided government in Washington must work together to address chronic deficits and a $14 trillion national debt.  Simplifying the federal tax code would help promote compliance and trigger stronger economic growth, investment and job creation.  I support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would require a balanced federal budget just as 46 of the 50 states require.  I don’t support raising taxes to balance the budget.  It doesn’t work.  Right now, Washington spends $1.68 for every dollar it collects in taxes.  Since World War II, the government has spent $1.17, on average, every time Congress has raised taxes by $1.

At my town meetings, Iowans asked for measurable belt-tightening in Washington.  I’ll be working to make it happen as Congress debates raising the debt ceiling and approving the federal budget for fiscal 2012.  The Senate Budget Committee is expected to get to work next week.  The budget resolution deserves a rigorous debate and one that takes place in a transparent manner. As a member of the Budget Committee, I intend to do what I can to make that happen.

Friday, May 6, 2011

 
Fighting Fraud, Protecting Taxpayers PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 09 May 2011 13:11

Leahy, Grassley Roll Out New Anti-Fraud Legislation

 Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act Will Improve Fraud Enforcement At No Added Cost To Taxpayers

WASHINGTON (Thursday, May 5, 2011) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced legislation Thursday to bolster law enforcement’s ability to investigate and prosecute fraud.  The Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act builds on successful efforts by Leahy and Grassley in the last Congress to enact legislation to help the Department of Justice and other agencies fight fraud.

The Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act will enhance existing efforts to investigate fraud, including the scourge of mortgage, foreclosure, financial and health care fraud that has victimized thousands of unsuspecting Americans.  The legislation will fill key statutory gaps to account for modern types of fraud, strengthening computer fraud and identity theft.  The bill also gives the Secret Service the needed authority to more effectively investigate fraud.  The Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act also increases accountability by requiring the Justice Department to better manage and account for key spending.

“Combating fraud is a vital issue on which Senator Grassley and I have a long track record of working together, and with great success,” said Leahy.  “In these trying economic times, cracking down on the fraud which has harmed so many hardworking Americans is more important than ever.  Americans are worried about their budgets at home.  We need to protect their investment in their government.  Fighting fraud and protecting taxpayer dollars are issues Democrats and Republicans have worked together to address in the past, and in these difficult economic times, we need to continue in that spirit of bipartisanship.”

“Fighting fraud and protecting taxpayer dollars transcends politics and Senator Leahy and I have worked together on this matter for years. One of the most important parts of this new legislation is the transparency and accountability it brings to the Justice Department. Without transparency and accountability the fight to combat fraud often falls short.  To ensure that the funds and manpower are being used most effectively, and False Claims Act lawsuits aren’t being settled for pennies on the dollar, the transparency provisions included in this bill are an important way to hold the department accountable for its actions,” Grassley said.

The Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act will direct a small portion of funds collected by the government in fines and penalties to investigating, prosecuting, and litigating fraud cases.  In the last fiscal year alone, the Department of Justice recovered well over $6 billion through fines and penalties.  The Leahy-Grassley legislation calls for approximately $15 million a year to be reinvested in anti-fraud efforts.  After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, some law enforcement resources to investigate and prosecute fraud were redirected to anti-terrorism efforts.  The Fighting Fraud to Protect Taxpayers Act will help restore some of these resources.

In 2009, Leahy and Grassley authored the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, which strengthened tools and increased resources available to federal prosecutors to find, prosecute and jail those who commit financial fraud.  The bill was among the first signed into law by President Obama in 2009.  Leahy and Grassley also worked on key anti-fraud provisions that were included in other reform legislation last year.

The Senate Judiciary Committee dedicated its first hearing of the 112th Congress to examining ways to improve fraud enforcement.

 

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Governor’s Office Statement on Springfield Chamber of Commerce Debt Restructuring Plan PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Andrew Mason   
Tuesday, 03 May 2011 13:04

SPRINGFIELD – May 3, 2011. The Office of Governor Pat Quinn today released a statement regarding the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce’s bonding plan.

“The Quinn Administration applauds the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce for its support of a plan to immediately pay past due bills by restructuring these debts at attractive interest rates. Today, the Chamber proposed a four-year, $6.1 billion bonding plan to pay off state debts.

“The Springfield Chamber - an established and experienced organization - whose goal is to stimulate the economy, agrees with the Quinn Administration that debt restructuring makes good business sense and is paramount to stabilizing the budget. We encourage those who have provided services to the state to come forward and urge legislators to support debt restructuring, a sound and reasonable step needed to return the state to solid financial footing.”

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