Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley 

Hearing Before the Senate Committee on Finance 

Using Unemployment Insurance to Help Americans Get Back to Work: Creating Opportunities and Overcoming Challenges 

April 14, 2010

We've lost nearly 8.5 million private sector jobs during the current recession.  Despite a massive $800 billion stimulus bill, a financial bailout, an auto bailout, cash-for-clunkers, and a so-called jobs bill, private sector job creation remains virtually non-existent. While the most recent monthly jobs data suggest a turn-around may be at hand, it's still too early to know for sure whether we are entirely out of the woods. 

 

The economic outlook remains tenuous, with rising foreclosures and continued weakness in the housing market.  The prospect of higher interest rates weighs heavily on future home values and bank balance sheets.  When jobs are hard to find, unemployed workers seek assistance from the unemployment insurance system. 

Unfortunately, this recession has hit the unemployment system hard.  We've seen a dramatic deterioration in the solvency of the system.  An analysis of state trust fund ratios since 1972 suggest the system is in its worst financial condition in decades.  As of last week, the states had borrowed nearly $40 billion from the federal government to cover their shortfalls. The latest projections suggest federal loans will exceed $90 billion within a few years.  That's almost three times the annual amount of unemployment taxes collected by the states prior to the current recession.

The growing insolvency of the unemployment system represents a major economic and fiscal challenge.  We face the prospect of a dramatic increase in payroll taxes at a time when businesses are still struggling to meet their payroll and retain their workforce. Under current law, repaying federal loans and rebuilding state trust fund balances, before the next inevitable recession, would require an unprecedented and untenable payroll tax increase.

The challenge we face today is how to restore solvency to the unemployment system without undermining private sector job creation.  Today's hearing is the first step in that process.

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Keep young minds sharp over the summer with educational programs at Rivermont Collegiate! Rivermont is offering an assortment of Summer Adventures for children from preschool age and up.  Programs cover a wide variety of interests - from cooking to aviation - to algebra and band Camp. Children from any school may register. Each one week session 8:30-11:30 a.m. is $110. Rivermont strives to prepare students who are grounded in the basics, yet able to think analytically and creatively, to confidently meet the challenges of the 21st century.  Check out full class descriptions and obtain a registration form at www.rvmt.org.

Preschool - Junior Kindergarten - Kindergarten

June 21-25 What's Cooking

June 28-July 2 We Dig Dinosaurs!

July 12-16 Animal ABCs

July 19-23 Take Me Out to the Ballgame

July 26-30 Planes, Rockets and Aviation

 

Ages 7-11

June 14-18 Just Dig It!  

June 21-25 Bits, Bites and Hopefully NO Bugs!

July 12-16 Whoooo is a Genius?

Specialty Classes

June 21-25, June 28-July 2, July 5-9, July 12-16 Algebra I Tune up  

(Open to students entering Algebra I next fall)

August 10-12 Mini Band Camp (open to band students of all ages!) 

For enrollment information on Rivermont Collegiate contact Cindy Murray at 563-359-1366 ext. 302 or murray@rvmt.org.

MOLINE, IL?A social worker, a retired police officer, a PhD, a Plumber, a US Army Reserve Sergeant, and the QC's own celebrated black belt and world record holder, invite you to join them for Morrow's Hour of Power?a lunch hour of push-ups to kick-start your weekend with a rush of adrenaline and sense of wellbeing.

The Hour of Power is a chance for the not-faint-of-heart to find their power by doing push-ups. John Morrow hosts the event every Friday at noon. "Each person finds his or her own number," says Morrow. "It's about how many push-ups you can do per minute for an hour." Morrow's number is 41. (Others in the group range from 4 to 18 push-ups per minute.)

Morrow is out to set a world record for the most push-ups by a group of people in one place in one hour?an event scheduled for May 1st at St. Ambrose University called Push-Ups for Peace. The event will benefit Kids Against Hunger and Quad City Children's Therapy.

"The Hour of Power" began as our way to prepare for May 1st," explained Morrow. "But we are having so much fun as a group, we decided to do it every Friday at lunchtime just for fun. We play classic rock from the Doors to the Beatles and have a great time. We're inviting people to join us and find their own personal power number."

Known very locally as "the village people", Morrow's group of five includes Jeanette Gibson, a social worker; Ian Fink, retired Bettendorf police officer, Dr. Dustin Derby from the Palmer College research department, John Olvera, a plumber and Sgt. Terry Timmons, US Army Reserve. They are led by John Morrow of push-up and martial arts fame.

"All you have to do is show up," says Morrow. The Hour of Power takes place at Morrow's Academy, every Friday from noon to 1pm. It's located at 1321 Fifth Ave. in downtown Moline. For information about Push-Ups for Peace, the Hour of Power, or Morrow's Academy, call John Morrow at 309-764-1929 or visit www.morrowsacademy.com.       

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In an era when field trips are becoming increasingly rare, the Quad City Symphony Orchestra's Symphony Day can still pull a crowd. On May 13, the Quad City Youth Symphony Orchestra will entertain and educate 6,000 area fourth and fifth grade students with its 27th annual Symphony Day. This year's concert will feature "Music of the Stars" including Holst's The Planets and the Imperial March from Star Wars. Joining the Youth Orchestra at the Adler will be Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers, courtesy of the 501st Legion. These narrated concerts at the Adler Theatre highlight the orchestra through short and varied works, while showing the students the inner workings of the orchestra on a giant overhead video projection. For many youths, this is the first time they have had the opportunity to attend a live symphony concert in a concert hall.

Press is welcome to attend any of the three scheduled performances: 9:15 AM, 11:00 AM and 1 PM. Buses begin arriving a half-hour before each performance, with children streaming through the lobby until the time of the performance. Symphony Day draws from 32 different school districts, 195 public, private and home-study classrooms, all coming from within a 45-mile radius of the Quad Cities.

Symphony Day is sponsored by the Rauch Foundation, Alcoa, Adler Theatre Producers, and Volunteers for Symphony.

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Every two years, the Community Marketing program of Renaissance Rock Island conducts a telephone survey to determine statistically valid perceptions about Rock Island. Personal Marketing Research, Inc. (PMR) was contracted to administer the survey in the fourth quarter of 2009. The sample for the study was comprised of 800 respondents, allowing for an overall margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points at 95% level of confidence. 400 Rock Island residents and 400 non-residents were questioned.

The 34-page executive summary can be downloaded at this link  http://www.liveri.com/index.php/business/community-profile/community-survey

Overwhelmingly, Rock Island residents believe that Rock Island is a good place to live (91%). The majority of residents have a positive view of Rock Island (65%) and non-residents have a neutral perception (56%).

When rating City services and the School District, residents gave more positive answers than in 2007. Residents feel that the amount of property taxes paid for City services (46%) and School District services (48%) is appropriate. All City services were rated above average by residents. Residents think the schools are better or much better than five years ago (36%).

Respondents state that Rock Island has the best downtown (39%). This has changed dramatically since 1990 when respondents thought Rock Island had the worst downtown. People go downtown for entertainment, dining, and bars and this has remained consistent since 1990.

Residents and non-residents agree with the Rock Solid, Rock Island brand statements - now five years old: Rock Island is a welcoming environment, a place that supports entrepreneurial spirit, and a place that celebrates a diverse environment. Rock Island offers a wide variety of residential housing options, has innovative public and private schools, offers a complete set of recreational and leisure activities, provides outstanding city and governmental services and is a regional leader in downtown development.

Respondents feel that Rock Island is safe (76% stated very safe or safe), and more residents stated so (87% stated very safe or safe). Residents feel safe in their neighborhoods (84% stated very safe or safe). Respondents feel that Rock Island properties are well kept (63%), with residents feeling more so (71%). Respondents feel downtown Rock Island is safe (49% stated very safe or safe), while more residents felt safe (54% stated very safe or safe).

Perceptions of Rock Island have improved since 1990, due to continual improvements in the city. However, just as stated in the conclusions of the 1990 market research, work will need to continue.

DAVENPORT, IOWA (April 12, 2010)  In partnership with the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities, the German American Heritage Center will be showing the film "Saviors in the Night" at the German American Heritage Center at 712 West Second Street in Davenport, Iowa on Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 2 p.m. The film will be shown on the 4th floor program space and refreshments will be served. Cost is $5 per adult, free for museum members and free for students. For those who would like to explore the museum prior to the movie, please arrive early before the movie as the exhibits close at 4 p.m.

Ludi Boeken's "Under Bauern" (Saviors in the Night) tells of farmers ? unter bauern ? in Westphalia who sheltered Jewish friends from the Nazis. The movie is based on Marga Speigel's memoir "Saviour in the Night" who tells the story of how a little family survived in their hiding place because of the help of farmer families Aschoff, Pentrop, Sickmann and Silkenbömer from the Münsterland. The film will be subtitled. You can watch the movie trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WLAvZC91po

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ST. LOUIS (April 12) - Ronald Wilson of Bettendorf has been selected as a winner in Monsanto's America's Farmers Grow CommunitiesSM Project, which gives farmers the opportunity to win $2,500 for their favorite local non-profit organizations in each of Iowa's 99 counties. Wilson has designated the North Scott FFA Chapter located in Eldridge to receive the award.

Wilson says he is very excited to have been selected as the winner for Scott County. "There have been budget cuts, so the school might not have the funds available like they've had in the past to support groups like the FFA chapter," explains Wilson. "Not many kids are involved in agriculture anymore. One way to keep them involved is through programs like FFA. Monsanto's grant program is great. It will help give recognition to what farmers do."

Jamie Gray, agriculture teacher and FFA advisor, says the $2,500 will be used to help the students develop leadership skills by attending career development events, state leadership conferences and the National FFA Convention.

"American farmers are the backbone of this country, and without them we wouldn't have anything," says Gray. "The communities that make up the North Scott School District are very lucky to be surrounded by the farming industry. It felt good to know that Ron felt the North Scott FFA Chapter could benefit from this program. Monsanto has always been giving back to the communities and supporting organizations like the FFA. They know the importance of FFA and agriculture in the classroom and all it has to offer students and the community."

Brandon Messer, North Scott FFA member adds: "I would like to thank Ron Wilson for nominating us for this award. I feel our farming community is very supportive of our FFA chapter and would like to thank them for all their support."

The $2,500 donation was awarded at a ceremony held April 8 during the North Scott FFA Banquet and Awards Ceremony in Eldridge. The America's Farmers Grow Communities Project was offered throughout Iowa and in parts of Missouri and Arkansas. It is part of a broad commitment by Monsanto Company to highlight the important contributions farmers make every day to our society by helping them grow their local communities. More than 7,500 farmers participated in the program, which is designed to benefit non-profit groups such as ag youth, schools and other civic organizations. The program is currently in the process of being expanded to include additional states. Visit www.growcommunities.com to see a complete list of winners.

Use Free Tax Preparation Help; Avoid Refund Anticipation Loans


 

CHICAGO - April 10, 2010. Governor Quinn today hailed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for providing tax relief to thousands of hard-working families and urged all eligible Illinois taxpayers to use the credit when filing their 2009 returns this year.

The Governor also encouraged those who need help filing their returns to utilize the free tax preparation assistance offered by community groups and he warned taxpayers to avoid using costly tax refund anticipation loans that are offered by some commercial tax preparation companies.

"The Earned Income Tax Credit is the best pro-job, pro-family and anti-poverty tax relief ever devised, and every eligible family in Illinois should receive the full credit," said Governor Quinn. "With the income tax deadline just five days away, it is important that Illinois' working families take advantage of free tax preparation assistance to help get their full refunds quickly and painlessly."

State partnerships with the Center for Economic Progress' Tax Counseling Project and Ladder Up (formerly the Tax Assistance Program) will offer free tax preparation assistance and e-filing for families across Illinois. Services are free for families who earned under $50,000 and individuals who made less than $25,000.

Through the partnerships, volunteer tax counselors will provide free tax assistance and counseling more than 30 sites throughout the state. Most sites will provide services from January 23 through April 15. Governor Quinn made today's announcement at Truman College in Chicago, which will serve as a Center for Economic Progress site. (A full list of locations is attached.)

Taxpayers can walk in to any of the locations, without an appointment, and work with trained volunteers who will help fill out their returns and make sure they file for all the credits, deductions and other benefits to which they're entitled.

Families raising three or more children in their home can get up to $5657 from the federal EITC with earnings of less than $48,279 (married, filing jointly). Illinois residents who claim the federal EITC may also receive the state EITC, which can save them up to $283.

Governor Quinn also encouraged residents to avoid the high cost of refund anticipation loans (RALs) offered by commercial tax preparation companies. According to a 2009 study by the Consumer Federation of America and the National Consumer Law Center, the price of a RAL for a typical loan of $3,000 can range from $62 to $110.

Most Illinois taxpayers can file state taxes for free at www.tax.illinois.gov and receive a refund in about a week. Additionally, many can file their federal taxes online for free as well. Information about filing federal taxes online can be found at www.irs.gov.

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WASHINGTON - Senator Chuck Grassley today said that the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration has awarded five grants totaling nearly $30 million to Iowa communities that are still recovering from severe flooding over the last several years.

The Economic Development Administration serves as a venture capital resource to meet the economic development needs of distressed communities throughout the United States through the promotion of innovation and competitiveness and preparing regions for growth and success in the global economy.

According to the Economic Development Administration, the disaster recovery projects work to minimize economic dislocations resulting from natural and other disasters, improving responsiveness and effectiveness in the recovery process.

The Economic Development Administration has awarded funds as described below.

· Columbus Junction will receive $2,902,500 to help construct a new water treatment facility outside the floodplain.

· Dubuque will receive $1.5 million to help construct a multi-level parking facility.

· Iowa City will receive $22 million to help relocate the north wastewater treatment facility out of the Iowa River floodplain and $3 million to help design and perform engineering work to reconstruct and elevate Dubuque Street and the Park Road Bridge.

· Shenandoah will receive $232,500 to reconstruct storm sewer infrastructure in downtown Shenandoah.

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In honor of Crossing Guard Appreciation Day May 4, 2010, Chicago Department of Transportation and the Active Transportation Alliance are asking neighbors to share stories about their local crossing guards. Chicago and suburban residents can share how much they value their crossing guard at www.activetrans.org/crossingguard

The survey will be open until through May 4, 2010, the day Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn declared as Crossing Guard Appreciation Day "in recognition of the services that these dedicated professionals provide to keep our citizens and their children safe."

"Crossing guards provide an invaluable service to our communities," said Rob Sadowsky, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. "They are out there every day making the streets safer by helping children get to school and guiding residents as they walk to the bus."

There are plenty of ways you can show your crossing guard appreciation May 4. Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians all owe a bit of thanks to our unsung heroes.

  • Download and present them with this certificate of appreciation
  • Write a thank you note
  • Draw a picture of you and your crossing guard
  • Respect the crossing guard's authority
  • Bring them flowers from your garden
  • Pay attention when driving through the intersection
  • Introduce yourself
  • Smile! Wave! Wish them a Happy Crossing Guard Appreciation Day

The Active Transportation Alliance is a non-profit, member-based advocacy organization that works to make bicycling, walking and public transit so safe, convenient and fun that we will achieve a significant shift from environmentally harmful, sedentary travel to clean, active travel. The organization builds a movement around active transportation, encourages physical activity, increases safety and builds a world-class transportation network. Formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, the Active Transportation Alliance is North America's largest transportation advocacy organization, supported by more than 6,000 members, 1,000 volunteers and 35 full-time staff. For more information on the Active Transportation Alliance, visit www.activetrans.org or call 312.427.3325.

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