Business & Economy
IRJA Chairman Rep. Bill Black on SB 1849's passage: PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Illinois Revenue and Jobs Alliance   
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 14:01
"The Illinois Revenue and Jobs Alliance commends the leadership demonstrated today by the Illinois House of Representatives. With the tens of thousands of jobs and the hundreds of millions in new revenue that the passage of SB 1849 will create, our state has now officially taken the first step on the road to financial recovery. Thank you to our House members in Springfield and to Representative Lou Lang and Senator Terry Link for working so hard to get this done. We hope now that members of the Illinois Senate will act in kind."

-Rep. Bill Black, Chairman, The Illinois Revenue and Jobs Alliance

 
Grassley follows up with USDA about discrimination claims PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Grassley Press   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 10:39

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a status report on the agency’s effort to improve its process for resolving discrimination claims made by employees following independent assessments that recommended improvements in 2008 and 2011.

 

“The discrimination issues and delays in resolving claims are not a new issue for the Department of Agriculture, but it’s time for a clear indication that systemic problems are being resolved.  To date, the agency response to questions about progress being made have been somewhat vague and inadequate,” Grassley said.

 

The Iowa senator made his request for a status report in a letter sent today to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.  Click here to read Grassley’s letter to Vilsack.

 

Both a 2008 report of the Government Accountability Office, which is the investigative arm of Congress, and a 2011 Jackson Lewis report commissioned by the Department of Agriculture identified problems in the way the agency managed employee claims of discrimination and made recommendations for improvements.

 

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National Small Business Week: Don’t Let a Disaster Put You Out of Business, says IBHS PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Joseph King   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 08:26

Tampa, Fla. (May 22, 2012) – During National Small Business Week (May 20 – 26) the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) urges  small business owners and managers to prepare for risks that could threaten their operations.

“Owning or managing a small business is no easy task,” said Gail Moraton, IBHS’ business resiliency manager. “It requires a great deal of hard work and dedication to sustain the business and help it grow. Unfortunately, this leaves little time to spend preparing for a catastrophe that could force a business to close its doors – permanently.”

Preparedness starts with an assessment of the risks and vulnerabilities your business faces. Use IBHS’ risk and vulnerability assessment tool to accomplish this task.

Once you have identified the risks facing your business, the next step is to seek out the appropriate protective and mitigation measures specific to each type of disaster that could result in business interruption. The IBHS Open for Business® toolkit is a free program that helps small to mid-sized businesses develop a business continuity and property protection plan.

Using the tools provided by Open for Business, business owners and managers can take the necessary steps to keep their doors open following a disaster, reduce their potential for loss, and recover more quickly should the worst occur. Regardless of what causes a business interruption, having a plan in place ahead of time could mean the difference between survival and closure.

“Businesses that have a business continuity plan in place -- and use it during and after a disaster strikes -- typically experience less damage, loss and downtime than businesses without a plan,” said Moraton.

In addition to a business continuity plan, business owners also should have a property protection program in place, according to Chuck Miccolis, IBHS commercial lines engineer.

“A property protection program gives businesses the advantage of remaining open or re-opening as quickly as possible during a time of need for their  customers, employees, and often their own family members. This level of dependability and service following a major catastrophe enhances their reputation and adds to their value in the community,” said Miccolis.

To help business owners implement a property protection plan, IBHS offers “12 New Year’s Resolutions for Protecting Businesses in 2012.” The free, downloadable guide identifies practical and affordable business protection resolutions that most business owners or managers can perform on their own or with limited outside assistance.

or via direct message on Twitter @jsalking.

for more information about how to make your property more resistant to a variety of disasters, big and small. Follow IBHS on Twitter at @DisasterSafety and on

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Defending Debt – Why It’s Good PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 08:24
Money Coach Debunks Financial Planning Myths

When it comes to the best ways to use money, too many Americans operate under a key misconception, says investment adviser and financial planner Ike Ikokwu.

“Money is opportunity, and having a blind spot for maximizing investment can drastically reduce one’s future options,” says Ikokwu, author of Winning the Money Game: Separating the Myths from the Truth (www.winningthemoneygame.net).

That blind spot is debt, he says. Just as Americans have learned that are such things as good fats and good cholesterol, so too is there good debt for a prosperous financial future.

“The three most common ways people in this country get rich all involve using debt,” he says. “They use it to launch businesses, invest in real estate, or pay for advanced degrees in order to become high-income earners.”

Some myths born from the idea that all debt is bad include:

• Paying off your home mortgage provides financial security.
• A 15-year mortgage is always the quickest way to pay off your home.
• Putting money in your 401K or other qualified plan saves you taxes.
• The stock market is the only place to generate high, double-digit returns.

Admonishments to “stay out of debt” prevent people from gaining financial independence, Ikokwu says. Investing in education, a new career in another state or a new business may be more lucrative than paying down a mortgage.

“My definition of being ‘debt-free’ is to have enough money so that you can pay off your debt at any time – if you need to,’’ he says. “But you don’t necessarily want to do that. Good debt can save you money on taxes, increase your investment gains and allow you to take advantage of wealth-building opportunities. Bad debt, on the other hand, is like having a big hole in your money bucket.”

Ikokwu developed a new personal financial plan after a period of successful investing imploded following the market crash in 2001. After filing for bankruptcy in 2003, he rebuilt his wealth – using his new plan – in five years. Today he is financially independent and his wealth secure.

“To a greater extent than many Americans suppose, money is plastic,” he says. “That means you do not have to be rich in order to gain more wealth, and we do not have to follow old, outdated paths. We can all mold the money we have to a shape that yields better return.”

About Ike Ikokwu

Ike Ikokwu, “The Financial Independence Coach,” is a CPA, CFP and registered investment adviser. He holds a bachelor’s in accounting and a master’s in personal financial planning. Ikokwu is president and CEO of Winning the Money Game with Ike, a tax and financial advisory firm in Cumming, Ga. While working for “Big 6” tax firms and buying real estate, Ikokwu funneled his profits into domestic and international investments, only to realize too late that they were Ponzi schemes. Forced to declare personal bankruptcy in 2003, he rebuilt his wealth by changing his approach to finances. Tune into Atlanta’s WGUN-1010 (AM) at 11 a.m. Saturdays for his weekly show.

 
Governor Quinn Urges Lawmakers to Act Swiftly on Medicaid and Pension Restructuring PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Nafia Khan   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 08:21

Legislation Filed to Restructure Medicaid, 10 Days Left in Spring Session

SPRINGFIELD – May 21, 2012. With 10 days until the end of the spring legislative session, Governor Quinn today urged lawmakers to act to restructure the state’s Medicaid and pension systems. Today House Amendment 3 to Senate Bill 2840, also called the SMART Act, was filed to restructure the Medicaid system. The bill is based on the Governor’s proposal to save Medicaid, which is on the brink of collapse.

“If we do not address pensions and Medicaid now – before the spring session ends – our Medicaid system will collapse and leave thousands of our most vulnerable families without access to vital services,” Governor Quinn said. “There are 10 days left to do the right thing, and I urge legislators to act now in order to preserve both systems for years to come.”

The Save Medicaid Access and Resources Together (SMART) Act is based on a comprehensive review of the Medicaid program conducted by the working group, which is comprised of members of both legislative caucuses and led by the governor’s office. House Amendment 3 to SB 2840, sponsored by Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), scales the program to fit existing appropriations through spending reductions, utilization controls and provider rate cuts.

Together, Medicaid and pensions account for 39 percent of state general revenue spending, putting a tremendous squeeze on the rest of the budget. Illinois is expected to end this fiscal year with almost $2 billion in unpaid Medicaid bills, caused in part by rising medical costs, increased enrollment during the economic recession and a deferral of $1.9 billion in last year’s bills to this fiscal year. Without immediate and fundamental restructuring of the Medicaid system, the non-partisan Civic Federation projects that Illinois’ unpaid bills will rise to $21 billion by 2017.

Illinois’ pension system is now under-funded by $83 billion due to decades of inadequate funding by past lawmakers and governors, and the promise of increased benefits without sufficient revenue to pay for those benefits. Under Governor Quinn, as annual required contributions increased dramatically, the state paid exactly what the law required into the pension systems. The fiscal year 2013 payment of $5.2 billion, now makes up 15 percent of general revenue fund spending compared to 6 percent a few years ago.

Governor Quinn recently proposed a plan to fundamentally restructure the Medicaid system and save it from collapse by creating $2.7 billion in savings. The Governor’s Medicaid plan cuts waste, fraud and abuse; raises the price of cigarettes; and brings back dollar-for-dollar federal matching funds to help keep people healthier. The Governor also recently proposed a bold plan to stabilize the pension system, which is expected to save taxpayers $65 to $85 billion, eliminate the unfunded liability and allow public employees who have faithfully contributed to the system to continue to receive pension benefits. For more information, please visit SaveOurState.Illinois.Gov.

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