CHICAGO - In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will visit counselors and educators at the Northwest Center Against Sexual Assault (CASA) on Monday to advocate for legislation that would restore funding to sexual assault prevention agencies.

 

Senate Bill 3348 would require all strip clubs that permit alcohol to collect a $5-per-patron entry fee. The revenue would be distributed to community-based sexual assault prevention and response organizations, such as Northwest CASA, which is facing a 10 percent state budget cut this year. Northwest CASA provides 24-hour crisis response and prevention education to more than 30 municipalities.

 

DATE: Monday, April 2

TIME: 2:30 p.m.

PLACE: Northwest Center Against Sexual Assault, 415 W. Golf Rd., Suite 47, Arlington Heights

 

###
SPRINGFIELD - March 27, 2012. Ambassador to the Illinois Main Street Program, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon announced today that the program will begin accepting applications next month from communities interested in joining.

Illinois Main Street is administered by the Regional Outreach Division at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and offers its 45 designated communities technical assistance and training in how to revitalize traditional downtowns, neighborhood business districts, and urban corridors. The program, which has not accepted applications since 2009, is part of the national Main Street Program run by the National Trust for Historic Preservation Main Street Center. 

"I am happy to announce that Illinois Main Street is once again open for business," Simon said while speaking to community members at the Illinois Main Street rally outside of the State Capitol. "I urge all communities searching for ways to revitalize their downtown areas to apply to Illinois Main Street, which is a proven way to spur reinvestment in a community."  

Nationally, Main Street programs attract $27 of local investment for every $1 spent, according to data from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In Illinois, the Main Street Program attracted an average of 10,000 volunteer hours to each member community in 2010, which represents an investment of over $220,000, according to DCEO.

 

"Moving forward, we will continue to utilize the strong partnerships that have been developed between the Illinois Main Street communities, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Office of Regional Outreach, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the Lt. Governor's office to offer many mentoring and training opportunities related to business incentives, design services, and a vast array of other topics so crucial to the economic success of the Illinois Main Street Communities," Illinois Main Street Coordinator Mitzi Brandenburg said.

 

Communities interested in applying to become a member of Illinois Main Street can visit www.illinoismainstreet.org. The Illinois Main Street selection committee considers several factors when scoring an application, including level of financial support from local government, creation of a Main Street committee, a full-time executive director and existence of historic preservation ordinances. Illinois Main Street may select up to two new communities per year.

Renewal of the application process follows Governor Quinn's signing last year of the Illinois Main Street Act, which formally placed Illinois Main Street under the purview of DCEO allowing the program to move forward after a transition period.

 

###

Statewide curriculum aims to increase college completion

 

SPRINGFIELD - March 27, 2012. Illinois middle and high schools could use a state recommended math curriculum come 2013, if a bill that passed a state Senate committee today with Lt. Governor Sheila Simon's support is adopted.

 

SB 3244, sponsored by Sen. Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign), authorizes the Illinois State Board of Education to design curriculum models that illustrate how to teach state standards in middle and high school math. Schools could opt to follow the state-recommended scope and sequence of study for math and math equivalent courses through a student's final year of high school, or continue to follow local curricula.

 

Within four years of the bill's effective date, the state board and P-20 Council will measure the effectiveness of the statewide curriculum based on test scores and math remediation needs at colleges. The aim is to recommend a standard curriculum that is proven to boost college readiness and reduce the expensive and time-consuming remedial math needs at colleges and universities.

 

"Students learn locally, but they compete globally," Simon said. "Colleges and employers are telling us that too many of our students are not competing in math. Our goal is to recommend math content and teaching techniques that educators across the state, in all zip codes, can build on so that more of their students graduate from high school ready for college and careers."

 

In 2011, 42 percent of high school graduates met the math college readiness benchmark, according to ACT. More than one-third of recent high school graduates who transitioned as full-time community college freshmen between 2006-08 enrolled in at least one remedial math course (17,527 out of 48,328 students), according to the Illinois Community College Board. Students who enroll in remedial courses are more likely to drop out or graduate late.

 

Simon said the optional statewide curriculum moves away from simply requiring "seat time" to promoting use of that time wisely. It could be most helpful to teachers in districts that cannot afford curriculum directors or curriculum committees. It will also provide guidance to districts that otherwise rely on textbook manufacturers that claim their materials are aligned with state standards.

 

SB 3244 passed 10-0 and awaits a vote by the full Senate. Simon's written testimony can be found here.

 

###

CHICAGO - March 14, 2012. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon expressed disappointment in Tuesday's federal court injunction that blocks one part of landmark campaign finance reform she advocated for as a member of the Illinois Reform Commission and emphasized that many of the limits on campaign contributions are still intact under state law.

 

Simon said: "Illinois passed the state's first-ever limits on campaign contributions in 2009 to reduce the influence of big money donors on elected officials and ward off perceived or actual corruption. The caps on the amount of money individuals, businesses and political action committees may contribute to candidates or their campaign organizations are still intact. However, the federal court injunction will allow independent political action committees, so-called Super PACs, to raise unlimited amounts of money and influence campaigns. This decision is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizen's United case, which unfortunately allows more money than ever before into our political process. Unlimited money should not be the strongest voice in our democracy."

 

###

SPRINGFIELD - February 22, 2012. Following the Governor's budget address, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon recognized state agencies that voluntarily made cuts to help balance the fiscal year 2013 budget and encouraged state residents to participate in public hearings that will be held on proposed facility closures.

 

"A responsible budget must be based on real revenue. With pension and Medicaid costs eating up more of our tax dollars, we must reduce spending. As Lt. Governor, I worked hard to cut 9 percent of our budget, and applaud the other agencies who scoured their operations to do the same. As a Southern Illinois resident, I am disappointed that the state is proposing facility closures in areas that already suffer from high unemployment. I encourage the people whose livelihoods will be affected to join me in the budget process and speak up as we review the economic impact of such closures."

 

Simon's fiscal year 2013 appropriation request is more than 9 percent lower than her budget request from fiscal year 2012 and includes a reduction in full-time staff, from 24 to 21 members. The appropriation request is the lowest in at least 16 years and will net taxpayers a savings of nearly $200,000. In FY12, Simon is the only constitutional officer to return the equivalent of 12 days pay to the General Revenue Fund. Her senior staff voluntarily is taking four unpaid furlough days in FY12, as well.

 

As the Governor's point person on education reform and a member of the Budgeting for Results Commission, Simon recently announced a community college reform package that will use existing state resources to increase college completion rates. As chair of the Classrooms First Commission, Simon is developing recommendations that will make elementary and high school districts more efficient.

 

###
Simon backs federal Impact Aid for North Chicago schools

CHICAGO - November 11, 2011. On Veteran's Day, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon urged Illinois members of Congress to maximize federal education funding for school districts serving Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago.

In a letter sent to the delegation today, Simon asked U.S. House members to support legislation that would allow the five elementary and high school districts that serve Great Lakes families to continue pooling their student cohorts to qualify for a higher rate of federal Impact Aid.

Impact Aid is designed to help cover the cost of educating students whose families live or work on federally owned, property tax-exempt land, such as military bases. Without the legislation, North Chicago-area schools could lose millions of dollars.

Simon serves as the Governor's point person on education reform and is the chair of the Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee. The legislation is supported by Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk.

"As we celebrate Veterans' Day and honor those who have served and are serving our country, it is important that we support their families as well," Simon said in the letter.

The federal Impact Aid funding would benefit all students in five public school districts serving Great Lakes: Glenbrook High School District 225, Glenview School District 34, North Chicago District 187, North Shore District 112, and Township High School District 113.

More than 35,000 U.S. Navy recruits pass through Great Lakes' doors each year, joining an additional 13,500 students who attend training schools on the base annually. About 2,000 children of Great Lakes personnel attend public schools in the area.

As chair of the military base committee, Simon coordinates the state's activities and communications relating to current and former military bases in Illinois, and also provides advice and recommendations for base retention, realignment and reuse efforts.

The military base committee was established in 2005 in response to nationwide base closures, and it continues to coordinate local, state and federal action on retention, realignment and reuse efforts.

###

CHICAGO - November 3, 2011. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon today pledged to work with state agencies and Scott Air Force Base leadership to identify available resources for 110 civilian employees whose positions at the military facility are being eliminated.

Simon, who visited the base in September, learned of the cuts Wednesday evening from Col. Michael Hornitschek, commander of the 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott Air Force Base. As chair of the state's Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC), Simon offered to work with Col. Hornitschek to identify resources that could help the displaced individuals and the base.

"Scott Air Force Base is an economic engine in Illinois, and I am disappointed that the Air Force had to make this decision," Simon said. "As a native of Troy, a community near Scott Air Force Base where many citizens are employed by the base, I understand the social and economic impact these changes will have in the Metro East region and beyond. The state will use its resources to help get displaced workers back on the job."

Scott Air Force Base announced that 321 positions will be eliminated in response to a Department of Defense directive to freeze civilian job growth. Of those 321 positions, 122 were already vacant, 49 are held by employees who will voluntarily retire or separate from federal service by the end of December, and 40 are employees who will be moved from eliminated positions into other positions. This leaves 110 eliminated, occupied positions with employees who have not applied for incentive programs or for which no matching vacancy has been identified at this time, according to the base.

As chair of the IMBSEDC, Simon is visiting each of the state's military installations to learn about the base's operations, their impact on the state economy and relationship with local communities. The committee was established in 2005 in response to nationwide base closures, and it continues to make recommendations to local, state and federal policymakers on retention, realignment and reuse efforts.

###

Local foods key to growing economy

CHAMPAIGN - October 27, 2011. At an award ceremony celebrating 25 of the greenest public, private and non-profit organizations and businesses in Illinois, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon said good environmental practices strengthen the state's economy.

"These awards recognize leaders in sustainability, and they also recognize smart economic policy for businesses and governments," Simon said at the 25th Annual Governor's Sustainability Awards Ceremony hosted by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois.

Among those recognized was Uncommon Ground in Chicago, which runs two restaurants serving locally grown food from its 2,500 square foot rooftop farm. The group received a Continuous Improvement Award, given to organizations that have won awards at previous Sustainability Award Ceremonies.

Simon noted that Uncommon Ground helps keep local food dollars in the state. Simon, who chairs the Governor's Rural Affairs Council has targeted building opportunity in Illinois by promoting local foods.  Illinoisans spend roughly $46 billion annually on food, but only $2 billion of that amount on food grown in Illinois.

The awards have been presented since 1987 by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) at the University of Illinois. Awards are given to organizations for their efforts in implementing green practices such as technology and energy conservation.

"The efforts of these businesses and organizations demonstrate that it is possible to meet social and economic needs while minimizing impacts on the environment," ISTC Director Manohar Kulkarni said. "Present and future generations will appreciate their foresight."

A Sustainability Award, which recognizes first-time winners, was given to the University of Illinois Retro-commissioning Group, which is comprised of engineers, field technicians and tradesmen. The group has spent $6 million making 27 campus buildings more energy efficient. The team's efforts have resulted in an average energy savings per building of 26 percent and a total $9.7 million reduction in utility costs since 2007.

Four community colleges - John A. Logan College, Lewis and Clark Community College, Rock Valley College and Southwestern Illinois College - all received sustainability awards for implementing energy efficiencies on campus.

"More efficient energy use in community colleges means more opportunity for students to get the education they need to be ready for the workforce," Simon said.

The winners are:

·         ActOnEnergy Business Program, Peoria

·         Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne

·         Cabot Corporation, Tuscola

·         City of Evanston, Evanston

·         City of Naperville, Naperville

·         DuPage County, Wheaton

·         Earth Friendly Products, Addison

·         Elmhurst Park District, Elmhurst

·         Gabriel Environmental Services, Chicago

·         GE Healthcare IT, Barrington

·         Harris Corporation, Quincy

·         J.L. Clark, Rockford

·         John A. Logan College, Carterville

·         Lewis and Clark Community College, Godfrey

·         Lincoln Park Zoological Society, Chicago

·         NOW Foods, Inc., Bloomingdale

·         PortionPac Chemical Corporation, Chicago

·         Rock Valley College, Rockford

·         Solberg MFG., Itasca

·         Southwestern Illinois College, Belleville

·         The Sherwin-Williams Company, Effingham

·         Uncommon Ground, Chicago

·         University of Illinois at Chicago, c/o Office of Sustainability, Chicago

·         University of Illinois Retro-commissioning Group, Champaign

·         Village of Hoffman Estates, Hoffman Estates

 

###

SPRINGFIELD - With legislators back in Springfield, AARP Illinois, other advocacy groups and community organizations are bringing the voice of Illinois consumers to the State Capitol to ensure the Governor's veto of Senate Bill 1652 stands. The legislation, pushed by ComEd and Ameren, would increase electric rates annually for the next ten years, while eroding regulation that protects consumers. Today hundreds of residents from across the state, joined by Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, will rally outside AARP Illinois' State Office in Springfield, before visiting legislators in the Capitol.

TIME: 1 p.m.

DATE: Tuesday, Oct. 25

PLACE: Outside AARP headquarters, corner of College and Edwards, Springfield

###

Funding will help expand local food access in Illinois

 

CARBONDALE - October 19, 2011. An advocate for rural communities, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon announced today that four grants from the United States Department of Agriculture's Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) have been awarded to organizations in Illinois.

"This funding will help local food producers grow their operations and provide greater access to local foods," said Simon, the only constitutional officer from Southern Illinois. "Expanding local foods in Illinois is good for the health of our citizens and our economy."

The FMPP provides grants to projects that help improve and expand farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. Priority was given to projects that expanded healthy food choices in food deserts.

Simon chairs the Governor's Rural Affairs Council (GRAC), which is working to eliminate barriers to local food production in Illinois. The Lt. Governor will host GRAC's quarterly meeting today from 2 to 4 p.m. at John A. Logan College in Carterville.

Simon promoted the availability of FMPP funding and wrote a letter of support on behalf of the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees, helping secure $81,058 to establish a Farmers Market Association that will provide professional development, resources and support for farmers, markets, and communities. This will include development of a farmers market manager training manual and a statewide database to connect farmers to markets.

"Southern Illinois University applauds Lt. Governor Simon for her work and encouragement of the growth and expansion of home grown food markets," SIU President Glenn Poshard said. "These venues provide nutritional and affordable sources of food and serve as a novel and innovative way to strengthen our rural economies.

Another Southern Illinois organization, Food Works of Carbondale, was awarded $89,648 to conduct a comprehensive training and mentoring program for 60 new farmers and ranchers in Southern Illinois so that they can establish farmers markets, roadside stands and other direct-marketing venues. Food Works is scheduled to present its plans for the grant at today's GRAC meeting.

Other winners include :

  • Growing Home Inc., of Chicago, received $79,300 to establish a new farm stand for the sale of vegetables from its urban farm, purchase refrigeration equipment and other marketing supplies, and conduct educational programs.
  • Faith in Place, of Chicago, got $39,270 to help grow its 15 Chicago-area winter farmers markets and support the development of a congregational-supported Community Supported Agriculture program in Champaign.

The FMPP made an investment of over $9.2 million this year and gave out 149 awards in 42 states across the country.

###

Pages