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Gov. Branstad to make his tax returns available Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 09:53

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad will make his tax returns available to members of the media tomorrow, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at 9:30 a.m. The governor’s chief of staff, Matt Hinch, and the governor’s accountant, Jamie Ward, will conduct the briefing. Copies of the returns will be presented for review, but not for duplication.

With a continued commitment to openness and transparency, Branstad has made his tax returns available annually.

The following briefing is open to credentialed members of the media:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

 

9:30 a.m. Matt Hinch and Jamie Ward hold media briefing on Gov. Branstad’s tax returns

Robert D. Ray Conference Room

State Capitol

Des Moines, IA

 

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Governor Quinn Statement on Passover PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Katie Hickey   
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 09:24
CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today issued the following statement on the beginning of Passover:

“Tonight, families across Illinois will come together to celebrate the beginning of Passover and reflect on the sacrifices their ancestors made as they sought a new life of freedom and opportunity.

“In the Book of Exodus, we learn of the Jews’ freedom from slavery in Egypt and their newfound freedom under the guidance of Moses. It is a story that crosses religions and provides hope and inspiration to millions.

“May all have a happy and enlightening Passover. Chag sameach!”

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Following Supreme Court ruling, Branstad, Reynolds call for legislative action to protect Iowa students PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 08:39

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today called on the Iowa Legislature, which remains in legislative session, to pass a bill protecting Iowa students from sexual exploitation from a school coach. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday, April 11, 2014, that Iowa law protecting students from sexual exploitation from school employees doesn’t apply to coaches because coaches aren’t “licensed professionals.”

The ruling reads in part, “Although a coach who holds a teaching or other professional license is clearly subject to the statute, a mere holder of a coaching authorization without a professional license within the meaning of section 272.1(7) does not fall under the sexual exploitation statute. Accordingly, we reverse the conviction and remand the case to the district court with instructions to dismiss the case.”

“With the Iowa Legislature still in session, I am calling on the Iowa House and Senate to send a bill to my desk to protect Iowa students from sexual exploitation by school coaches,” said Branstad. “We must ensure our children are safe from those we entrust with our children at Iowa schools.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling went on to say, “As we have traditionally and repeatedly stated, ‘We do not inquire what the legislature meant; we ask only what the statute means.’”

A dissenting opinion stated, “Today’s decision no doubt will surprise school officials, parents, and coaches who had assumed the same law that made it illegal for a teacher to engage in sexual activity with students also applied to coaches. The ball is now in the legislature’s court to amend section 709.15 to close this new loophole.”

“As a mother and grandmother, I want to be able to assure Iowa parents that when their children are at their schools they are safe,” said Reynolds. “The Legislature now has the opportunity to correct the law and protect Iowa’s children from a loophole in state law that surely wasn’t intended.”

The ruling was in the case of State of Iowa vs. Patrick Ryan Nicoletto. The full ruling can be viewed here.

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Simon releases 2013 tax returns PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ted Nelson   
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 08:24

Urges officials to pass Senate Bill 1361, disclose more about personal finances

CARBONDALE – April 14, 2014. Illustrating her commitment to government transparency, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today released her 2013 tax returns along with personal financial statements for herself and her senior staff. Simon said the financial data goes beyond the disclosure required by law and is necessary for taxpayers to determine if she or her staff harbors any conflicts of interest. For a copy of Simon’s returns click here.

This is the fourth consecutive year in state office that she released the data, a tradition she started as Carbondale City Council Member and will maintain while holding elected office.

“Transparency and accountability go hand in hand,” Simon said. “I invite residents to view my financial information and learn that I have no conflicts of interest. I urge state lawmakers to strengthen our disclosure laws so that taxpayers can trust their leaders.”

According to the tax returns, Simon and her husband, Perry Knop, a community college professor, reported adjusted gross income of $207,522 in 2013. They paid $44,393 in federal and state taxes, which equates to an effective tax rate of almost 27 percent (22 percent federal, 4.7 percent state).

Simon and Knop contributed more than $3,300 to charity, including support for Southern Illinois University Foundation and various arts, health and women’s organizations. Their primary debts include a mortgage for their Carbondale home and a car loan for a Ford Focus, and they sold stock to help pay for a daughter’s college tuition.

State law does not require elected officials to release tax returns, but they are mandated to file a Statement of Economic Interests each May. Simon, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and other good government advocates have criticized the mandated form for being too confusing and riddled with loopholes.

Simon backs legislation, SB 1361, that would overhaul the questions for the first time in 40 years. It passed the Senate with overwhelming support and is now in the House Rules committee.

The Chicago Tribune editorial board has called for passage, stating in a December editorial: “Disclosure statements, as they stand now, are a joke. Speaker Madigan, let this bill out of Rules and bring it to a vote. This kind of sunlight is really needed.”

Until the law changes, Simon encouraged lawmakers to voluntarily disclose their finances.

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Governor Quinn Urges Homebuyers to Act Fast and Take Advantage of Welcome Home Illinois Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Dave Blanchette   
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 08:17

Program Offers First-Time Homebuyers Down-Payment Assistance and a 3.75 Percent Interest Rate on a 30-Year Fixed Mortgage

CHICAGO – Two weeks after first launching the Welcome Home Illinois loan program, Governor Pat Quinn is traveling to cities across Illinois to raise awareness of the program, discuss its benefits and explain how people can participate. The Governor is visiting Chicago, Rockford, the Quad Cities and Peoria to discuss the impact first-time homebuyers have on the state’s economy and urge them to act fast while the program is available. The events are part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to drive economic growth by making homeownership more affordable in Illinois.

“Welcome Home Illinois is helping first-time homebuyers afford their first home and we want to make sure that everyone who qualifies gets a chance to participate,” Governor Quinn said. “This program will help give hardworking men and women the opportunity of homeownership that they deserve, and help drive our economy forward.”

The new loan program is administered through the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and provides first-time homebuyers $7,500 in down-payment assistance with an interest rate as low as 3.75 percent for a secure, 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Generating interest at a faster pace than other IHDA programs, the timing is perfect for Welcome Home Illinois, tailored to working families, with borrower income limits up to 140 percent of the area median income (AMI) as the spring buying cycle hits its stride. For example, a family of three in Cook County could qualify even if earning as much as $106,000 in annual household income, and a family of three in Rockford could qualify with an annual household income of $90,020.

Following an overwhelming response to the launch of the program, more than $19.7 million in financing has been reserved as residents lock in $7,500 in down-payment assistance and below-market rates. Many house hunters are already flooding the housing market during the spring buying season. More than 24,000 have visited the Welcome Home Illinois website and local home buyers are quickly recognizing the program for its historically low rates, currently at 3.75 percent, which is well below the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.47 percent.

“We know it is time to get our own home to meet the needs of our family, but we weren’t sure where to start or how we could afford it,” Nick Ng, Chicago resident and prospective first-time home buyer, said. “Learning we pre-qualified for the Welcome Home Illinois program really opened the door to the possibility of homeownership for us.”

Nick and his wife have been married for seven years and are parents to four young children. Hearing impaired and working as a graphic designer at Roosevelt University, Nick will soon experience the important milestone of moving out of a relative’s home and into one he can finally call his own.

“Families across the state are quickly recognizing Welcome Home Illinois as a perfect first step to becoming a homeowner,” IHDA Executive Director Mary R. Kenney said. “With 175 reservations made in the program’s first 14 days, it’s truly gratifying to see this program help real people realize their dream of home ownership, helping them to build a better future and leading to a stronger overall economy in Illinois.”

According to the Illinois Association of Realtors (IAR), every home sold generates two jobs and $60,000 in ripple effects to the overall economy. This impact has already been realized statewide with other IHDA programs. In 2013, 3,000 families purchased homes through one of IHDA’s programs, generating 1,500 jobs and infusing $70 million into Illinois’ economy. Projections show that even just a 15 percent increase in 2014 could generate an additional 1,725 jobs and infuse another $10 million into Illinois’ economy.

Welcome Home Illinois is open to qualified Illinois first-time homebuyers on a first-come, first-serve basis. The program is funded through Illinois Jobs Now! and the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund. In addition to creating homeownership opportunities, the Welcome Home Illinois loan will stimulate statewide economic activity and will generate an estimated:

•       1,500 full-time jobs.

•       $50 million from real estate-related industries.

•       More than $40 million in economic activity for the state.

•       Additional $16 million in other statewide spending.

With funding quickly being reserved, interested homebuyers can find additional details about the program and a list of 100 lenders at welcomehomeillinois.gov.

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