Business & Economy
AARP to MidAmerican Energy: Quit Trying to Fool Iowans PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ann Black   
Monday, 02 April 2012 12:40

DES MOINES — AARP leaders are taking on MidAmerican Energy false portrayal of the Association’s position on nuclear power and attempts to shift away the focus from what HF 561 really does in their ads.  AARP doesn’t oppose nuclear power, but does oppose changing Iowa law to favor utility company and shareholder interests over Iowa’s ratepaying consumers.

“MidAmerican’s ironically titled ‘Straight Talk’ ads misrepresented AARP’s position on HF 561 and hid the truth about what HF 561 actually does”, said Anthony Carroll, AARP Iowa Associate State Director for Advocacy.  “The ads stated that AARP is an opponent of nuclear power.  That is an outright lie, just the beginning a new campaign by MidAmerican to fool Iowans into favoring HF 561.  Iowans deserve better than to be fooled.”

Carroll explained that AARP has consistently stated in testimony before House and Senate Commerce Committees, in AARP mail and e-mail correspondence with lawmakers, AARP members and Iowans, and in AARP editorials and paid ads, AARP is NOT opposed to nuclear power.

“The question of whether to build a new nuclear power plant is in MidAmerican’s hands,” said Carroll.  “It is critical to note, they can build a plant without HF 561.  The question for lawmakers is whether to shift nearly all the one-billion to several billions in costs and risks associated with new plants from the company to its customers.  That is what AARP opposes. That is what HF 561 does, according to the Iowa Utility Board staff memo. ”

AARP Iowa Executive Council Member Sharon Treinen of Ackley and a shareholder of MidAmerican’s parent company Berkshire Hathaway said, “I take no comfort in knowing HF 561 guarantees a profit for me as shareholder.  As a utility customer in Iowa, I oppose HF 561.  I’d rather not pay on the front end as a ratepayer, just so I can benefit as a shareholder.  I feel very fortunate that my husband and I were able to save so that we have some stock investments, but, I’m even more concerned about the many elderly and other Iowans on fixed incomes.

According to recent reports, Treinen said nearly a quarter million Iowa households, about 224,000, are behind on their utility bills and therefore face potential shut offs as of April 1, the day Iowa’s winter utility shut-off moratorium ends.

State President Tony Vola, also a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder, said HF 561 violates the common sense rule.  “I live by the common sense rule.  HF 561 shifts the billon-plus costs and profit-making aspects of building a new power plant from the company and shareholders to customers.  I choose to spend my money to be a shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway, but under HF 561, I and other Iowa utility customers would have no choice but to pay advance costs – which have always ballooned in other states – and a profit, for a long, expensive investment, even if this project goes bust.”

“AARP is fighting for a better deal for Iowa utility customers who bear the upfront costs and risk, and MidAmerican is fighting for their shareholders, for the great deal that HF 561 provides to them,” said Carroll. “We hope lawmakers side with customers, not with big business and company shareholders.”

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About AARP
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

 
Governor Quinn Encourages Attendance at First Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network Event PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Monday, 02 April 2012 08:29

Berwyn Event to Connect Families Facing Foreclosure with
Resources to Help Keep Their Homes

 

CHICAGO – March 30, 2012. As part of his commitment to affordable housing and foreclosure prevention, Governor Pat Quinn today encouraged Illinois families facing foreclosure to attend the Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network’s first “Keep Your Home, Illinois” workshop. Held Saturday, March 31 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Berwyn, the workshop will connect struggling homeowners with in-person assistance, resources and knowledge to help them keep their homes.

 

“Helping families stay in their homes is essential in keeping our communities strong and our economic recovery moving forward,” Governor Quinn said. “The Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network is a one-stop-shop that connects families facing foreclosure with the most up-to-date information and free housing counseling to help them navigate their options.”

 

Announced in the Governor’s State of the State address, the Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network (IFPN) is a multi-agency effort coordinated by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA). The statewide program gathers all resources available to homeowners to ensure that families facing foreclosure can access the assistance they need in one stop. The IFPN provides access to counseling services, legal advice, mortgage payment assistance programs, foreclosure preven­tion events and tips on how to avoid mortgage fraud.

 

The Berwyn event is the first of six regional, IFPN “Keep Your Home, Illinois” foreclosure prevention workshops around the state. The IFPN’s resources are also available 24-hours a day online at KeepYourHomeIllinois.org, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays at the IFPN’s free hotline 1-855-KEEP-411 (1-855-533-7411).

 

Foreclosures adversely impact too many Illinois families and communities. Illinois is consistently ranked among the top 10 states with the highest number of foreclosures. In 2011, 103,003 homes in Illinois received a foreclosure filing, or one in every 51 homes – ranking the state eighth in the country, according to RealtyTrac.

 

The Chicago area has the nation’s largest inventory of foreclosed homes. According to RealtyTrac’s inventory records, as of December 2011, there were 96,996 properties that were bank-owned or in some stage of foreclosure in the Chicago metro area.

 

“You just don’t know until it hits you what a disaster your life can become when you can’t pay your bills,” local homeowner Regina Bailey, who was recently approved for temporary financial assistance through the Illinois Hardest Hit Program, said. “You go through program after program, but you never know about most of them unless someone tells you. Then all of a sudden you feel okay because you have hope. That’s what the Governor’s Illinois Foreclosure Prevention Network has done for me.”

 

Working with a housing counselor doubles a homeowner’s chances of getting a loan modification and, once their loan is modified, foreclosure counseling reduces their chances of re-default by 67 percent.

 

“There are many benefits to working with an IFPN housing counselor,” said Mary Kenney, executive director of the IHDA. “Our counselors have access to numerous state and federal programs, and can direct homeowners toward the best program to suit their individual situations. The entire purpose of the network is to collect resources in one place, helping struggling homeowners save valuable time and resources as they work to keep their homes.”

 

“We are proud to be one of the 68 counseling agencies providing services under the network,” Ofelia Navarro, executive director of the Spanish Coalition for Housing, said. “Governor Quinn understands that homeowners have difficulty understanding and keeping up with which foreclosure prevention programs are available to them. Now more than ever, as the number of programs increase, homeowners need guidance to choose the best option for them.”

 

Under Governor Quinn, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) and Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) partnered to establish this free, one-stop collaboration of state agencies and nonprofit organizations to help Illinois residents access resources so that they can remain in their homes.

 

The Illinois Housing Development Authority (www.ihda.org) is an independent, self-supporting bonding authority that finances the creation and preservation of affordable housing throughout Illinois. Since 1967, IHDA has allocated more than $10.6 billion to finance more than 215,000 affordable housing units for the residents of Illinois. IHDA sells bonds independently, based on its own good credit, to finance affordable housing in Illinois.

 

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Iowa to receive first round of grants for new employment program for individuals with significant disabilities PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Richard Martin   
Monday, 02 April 2012 08:02

Assistant Labor Secretary Kathy Martinez to host April 2 press teleconference on new employment program for individuals with significant disabilities

 

WASHINGTON ‒ Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, will host a media teleconference on April 2 to discuss the Employment First State Leadership Mentor Program, a Labor Department grants initiative designed to facilitate the full inclusion of people with significant disabilities in employment and community life.

Three states ‒ Iowa, Oregon and Tennessee ‒ will receive the first round of grants through the program to assist with planning, policy development and capacity building. “Employment First” aims to promote the development of state policies so that integrated employment is the first option of service for individuals with significant disabilities. Integrated employment refers to jobs held by people with disabilities in typical workplace settings in which the majority of individuals employed do not have disabilities, those with disabilities earn at least the minimum wage and they are paid directly by the employer.


 
Morthland Statement on FY13 Budget Allocation PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Rep. Rich Morthland   
Monday, 02 April 2012 07:54
March 29, 2012


Springfield, IL…State Representative Rich Morthland (R-Cordova) released the following statement on House Resolution 706, which passed the lower House on a vote of 91-16:

“With this new budget, we are spending less than last year, and less than Governor Pat Quinn’s proposal,” Morthland stated. “We are also tasking the Appropriations Committees with going through the budget line-by-line and cutting 5.4%.  We will pay off $1.5 billion in old bills, fully fund our pension payments, and push for real spending reforms.”

HR706 also tasks a special committee to find ways to reduce Medicaid liability by $2.7 billion.

"It won't be easy and cuts are just one part of the equation. We the House Republicans, have taken the lead on the debate to drive down spending, $5 billion lower than Democrats proposals." Morthland added, "As important as this is, it is a key first step. Illinois needs real reforms that will end our debt spiral for the sake of the next generation."

HR 706 moves to the Senate for consideration.
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$90 million wasted! PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 02 April 2012 07:51

Grassley shines light on egregious spending by Navy on energy-efficiency projects

 

WASHINGTON – Making the case that important findings of independent audits ought to result in accountability, Senator Chuck Grassley is asking a top Navy official about her rejection of recommendations in an audit regarding a contract which failed to meet cost-effectiveness standards.

 

“The truth is, these projects have been a license to waste the taxpayers’ money.” Grassley said.  “They need to be stopped, and decision makers need to be held accountable.”

 

Grassley said contracts like this one show why people at the grass roots are so legitimately frustrated with wasteful government spending.  In a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment, Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, who is responsible for the decisions that led to the contract awards, Grassley said that by the government’s own standards that carry the force of law, these $90 million photovoltaic projects were not cost effective.  “In fact, they were a gross waste of the taxpayers’ money,” he wrote.

 

Recognizing the obligations of the Assistant Secretary’s position to abide by the law and responsibly manage taxpayer money, Grassley said, “For reasons I do not yet understand, you appear to have willingly abandoned those responsibilities to further the energy ‘goals’ advocated by the Secretary of the Navy.”

 

The subject of the Naval Audit Service Report (N2011-0060) driving Grassley’s questions is a $90 million contract awarded for photovoltaic projects in Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Virginia using money appropriated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Based on a careful review of all relevant facts, the audit concluded that these projects were a waste of money and recommended that they be cancelled.

 

Following the September 2011 release of a separate but related audit conducted by the Inspector General for the Department of Defense, Grassley raised questions directly with the Navy last November.  The Navy response said, “There is no absolute requirement on Federal agencies that renewable energy projects be cost-effective in order to be executed.”  In his letter today, Grassley asked for the law and regulation that exempt such projects from cost-effectiveness standards.

 

Grassley said the Naval Audit Service Report spells out the dramatic degree to which these projects fail on cost-effectiveness.  With an average payback of 124 years, ranging from a low of 70 all the way up to 324 years and a savings-to-investment ratio in the 0.04-0.20 range, these projects were not even close to meeting energy efficiency standards established in law and regulation.  And because the photovoltaic panels have an expected useful life of 25 years, the audit report states, “recovery of investment is impossible … .  The panels will never pay for themselves.”

 

Grassley said he has notified both Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Acting Inspector General Lynne M. Halbrooks about his questions regarding the Navy’s response to this audit.

 

During a recent Senate Budget Committee hearing in on defense spending, Grassley urged Panetta to examine audit recommendations and pursue reforms.  He said the Defense Secretary could prevent the problems identified by auditors from being buried in the bureaucracy and never addressed.

 

For several years, Grassley has been calling on auditors for the Defense Department’s Inspector General to issue stronger recommendations and said their work is a mission of the highest importance.

 

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