Business & Economy
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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Schilling Supports Common-Sense Plan to Reduce the National Debt, Preserve Medicare PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Andie Pivarunas   
Monday, 02 April 2012 07:48
Washington, DC – Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17) today released the following statement regarding the Path to Prosperity, the House of Representatives’ Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal, which cleared the House today by a vote of 228-191:

“As I said last year when the 2012 Path to Prosperity was released – before our debt hit $15 trillion – folks in Illinois’ 17th District did not send me to Washington to continue down the road of failed economic policy, job loss, and reckless spending.  Neither side of the aisle and neither chamber of Congress is blameless for the financial crisis we are in, but all are responsible to lead us out.  

“As Winston Churchill once said, you can count on Americans to do the right thing once they’ve exhausted every other option.  And the right thing is to face this problem now, or face a bigger one tomorrow.  But believe it or not, it has now been more than 1,050 days since the Senate last passed a budget, and the budget proposal recently put forth by the President calls for more spending and more debt.  It just plain fails to address our staggering national debt, and it unanimously failed in the House last night.  

“My colleagues in the House and I refuse to sit on our hands and ignore the urgent need to modernize our government to prevent our debt from crippling our nation.  Our plan is about ending empty promises from a bankrupt government, and guaranteeing our kids and grandkids are left with a stronger America than our parents left us.   

“This budget proposal provides certainty for small businesses, reforming the broken tax code to make it simple, fair, and competitive.  It clears out special loopholes, and lowers tax rates to promote growth.  This budget proposal makes no changes to Medicare for those 55 or older – absolutely no disruptions for those in and around retirement – while saving Medicare for current and future generations.  Under the health care reform law, Medicare was raided $500 billion and an unelected, unaccountable board of bureaucrats was given the ability to cut Medicare even further.  Instead of this approach, our plan advances a bipartisan health care proposal that takes power away from government bureaucrats, and puts patients and their doctors in charge of their health care choices.  

“The House budget proposal presents Americans with a choice – we can sit on the sidelines with the Senate, continue borrowing and spending with the President, or make the bold decisions necessary provide certainty, create jobs, and preserve financial security for our ancestors.  While I may not agree with every proposal contained in the budget, I remain ready to make some bold decisions and right our course.”

 

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Harkin Bill a Big Step Forward for Our Middle Class PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Katie Peters   
Monday, 02 April 2012 07:45

Iowa Senator’s Bill Will Help Rekindle Our Economy

To read the full column, click here.

Washington, D.C. — Today, as Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduces the Rebuild America Act, the Center for American Progress released a column finding that the bill is essential for helping restore our nation’s middle class. Sen. Harkin’s proposal combines a number of key elements—each of which would make a significant difference in the lives of everyday Americans—into a single, comprehensive bill that would go a long way toward strengthening a broad swathe of American families.

The American middle class is the heart of our economy and restoring its strength is key to getting the economy going again. A growing body of economic research indicates that a weakened middle class does not just hurt those who are losing ground, but rather it hurts all of us by stifling our country’s economic growth. The stated purpose of Sen. Harkin’s bill is “to rebuild the American middle class by creating jobs, investing in our future, building opportunity for working families, and restoring balance to the tax code.” To achieve this goal the bill unites together a wide range of policy proposals, including a number that the Center for American Progress champions. By bringing together a number of discrete elements under the framework of helping the middle class, the bill provides a coherent way of thinking about a number of policies that are too often viewed as separate and unrelated.

“Sen. Harkin recognizes that a strong and stable middle class is critical to America’s growth now and in the future,” said Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress. “The Rebuild America Act tackles some of the most immediate challenges facing America’s economy today, ranging from the rising costs of colleges to stagnant wages to the shortage of skilled workers in key industries. By leveraging federal investments and encouraging key industry partnerships, this legislation would make great strides in helping to prepare America’s workers for the jobs of tomorrow and improving economic security for working families, while also restoring fairness to the tax code. Sen. Harkin has a long history of defending the middle class and I commend him for his continued leadership on these issues.”

The central elements of the legislation essential to rebuilding the middle class include:

  • Supporting great teachers. The College and Career Readiness Classrooms Act, the education portion of Sen. Harkin’s legislation, would make a major and timely investment in the teacher workforce of our nation’s schools. The bill requires that federal funds support effective models of professional development that are goal-driven and focused on college and career readiness for students, increase teacher expertise in subject areas, and are sustained, embedded in the work of the classroom teacher and the school, and conceived and implemented through collaboration with teachers and teacher organizations.
  • Preparing Americans for jobs of the future. The bill will provide community colleges with the funding they need to design training programs that are responsive to the local labor market, and will encourage industry partnerships that ensure the education and training provided is relevant to workforce needs.
  • Improving our infrastructure. The Rebuild America Act would increase federal infrastructure spending by more than $300 million over 10 years—investments that would go a long way toward improving our highways, bridges, transit, airports, school buildings, wastewater-treatment facilities, and energy grid.
  • Modernizing workplace standards. Sen. Harkin’s bill zeroes in on perhaps the two most important components of reform to help everyday American families juggle the demands of work and family—child care and paid sick leave. The bill would ensure that funds to states would improve the quality and availability of child care to families as well as support the skills and credentialing process of the workforce. Further, the legislation incorporates paid sick days as an important component of work-life policies to benefit working families.
  • Raising pay for middle-class Americans. Too many modestly paid, white-collar workers are largely unable to collect overtime due to unreasonably low income limits ($455/week). These limits render many workers earning more than about $24,000 per year ineligible for overtime. This cuts into these workers’ earnings and provides little incentive for firms to reduce workloads on overburdened workers by hiring additional workers. Sen. Harkin’s bill would raise this too-low cap and index it for inflation. The bill would also help workers join together to collectively bargain for better pay and working conditions by raising the fines for employers that violate the law and undermine worker rights.
  • Restoring fairness in the tax code. The Rebuild America Act restores fairness and fiscal responsibility to the tax code by instating the “Buffett Rule,” which ensures that no millionaire pays lower taxes as a share of income than middle-class families. It also addresses the unfairness of taxing investment income more favorably than wages by raising the top rate on capital gains, which are received overwhelmingly by the richest Americans, to 25 percent. The bill requires ending tax breaks that reward the offshoring of jobs and asks Wall Street to contribute its fair share through a “financial crisis responsibility fee,” and through the enactment of a modest financial-transactions tax.

To read the full column, click here.

The Rebuild America Act unites together a wide range of policy proposals, including many championed by CAP and detailed in the following policy briefs and reports:

 

To speak with a CAP expert, please contact Katie Peters at 202.741.6285 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Blackhawk Hills Economic Development District Celebrates 20 Years PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Theresa Wittenauer   
Monday, 02 April 2012 07:39
March 27, 2012

ROCK FALLS, IL – Blackhawk Hills, a not-for-profit corporation based in Rock Falls, is
celebrating 20 years of helping communities undertake regional development and planning
issues. Blackhawk Hills was designated as an Economic Development District (EDD) by the
Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) in March 1992 and
functions as the region’s direct link to the EDA.

Through the EDD, Blackhawk Hills assists local governments and public entities in acquiring
funds for a variety of community development and planning activities, including the construction
of infrastructure for the enhancement and expansion of business and industry. In addition, the
EDD helps develop and implement a regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy
to improve job opportunities and quality of life for local communities.

According to Theresa Wittenauer, Economic Development Coordinator for Blackhawk Hills,
"The establishment of the EDD 20 years ago put our six county region in the preliminary
position to begin coordinating projects and collaborating on issues that impacted our entire
service area. Today, forming partnerships and promoting development at the regional level has
become vital to the growth and sustainability of our rural communities. Leaders have realized
that what happens in one county or community will ultimately impact the surrounding region."

Blackhawk Hills services include community planning, development assistance, natural
resources conservation and protection support, and grant writing and administration. Blackhawk
Hills serves Carroll, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, and Whiteside counties in northwest
Illinois.

Questions about Blackhawk Hills may be directed to Theresa Wittenauer at (815) 625-3854 or
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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