Gov. William Stratton meets with actor Howard Keel in 1957.  Photo from
 Illinois State Fair Museum Collection, Illinois Digital Archives – A service 
of the Illinois State Library and the Office of the Secretary of State
When Governor Joel Matteson moved his belongings into the brand new Executive Mansion on Jackson Street in Springfield in 1855, he was a member of a very exclusive club. In the first two hundred years of Illinois history, that club would grow to only 42 members. That membership would include Civil War Generals, members of Congress, state legislators (and not just from Illinois), farmers, lawyers, a prosecutor of Al Capone, and a personal secretary to the President of the United States.

Eleven years after Matteson left office, Illinois broke ground on a new state capitol building just a couple of blocks west of the Executive Mansion. Today, the second floor of the capitol building is decorated with portraits of the former Illinois governors. Here is a brief history that only scratches the surface of the stories surrounding this very interesting group of leaders.
EDGE tax credit overhaul gets Gov. Rauner’s signature. Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation (HB 162) that overhauls the EDGE Tax Credit Program and provides much-needed transparency and taxpayer protections.

“The EDGE Tax Credit Program overhaul is a bipartisan job creation program that is innovative and competitive for businesses,” Gov. Rauner said. “This legislation is another tool to use in our quest to bring high-quality and good-paying jobs to Illinois. It is crucial for the future success of our state that we make Illinois a more business friendly environment through pro-growth measures.”
Photo from Galena Area Historic Photos Collection, Illinois Digital Archives –
A service of the Illinois State Library & the Office of the Secretary of State
Last Tuesday and Wednesday, some parts of Illinois received a very light rain, less than a quarter of an inch in most places. These were last remnants of the once-powerful Hurricane Irma which had caused so much destruction across the Caribbean and in Florida just a few days before. The storm came inland, losing strength as it moved over land, drifted northwest across Georgia and Alabama, and then into the Ohio Valley where it finally dissipated mid-week.

As surprising as it might sound, Illinois frequently finds itself in the path of tropical weather patterns. Of course, in the middle of the continent, Illinois never gets hit as hard as coastal states do, but storm damage from the remnants of these tropical systems is not unheard of in Illinois. One storm a few years ago was even strong enough to damage a monument in Randolph County dedicated to our first governor. 
Residents and Businesses in Stephenson and Contiguous Counties Can Apply for Low-Interest, Long-Term Loans to Boost Recovery

Governor Bruce Rauner today announced the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved the state’s request for assistance to help people and businesses in northwestern Illinois recover from severe storms and floods that occurred in July. 
Amazon urged to pick Illinois for its new headquarters. The Seattle-based retailing giant Amazon has announced that it is running out of headquarters space in its current city and would like to open a second headquarters in a centralized U.S. location. The second headquarters could contain as many as 50,000 workers, who would occupy a potential 8 million square feet of office space to be constructed for as much as $5 billion. Amazon has cited good transportation, strong schools, and a tech-oriented workforce as elements in their decision.
Photo from the Abraham Lincoln Documents Collection,
Illinois Digital Archives – A service of the Illinois State
Library and the Office of the Secretary of State
Illinois has been the home to four U.S. Presidents. That isn’t the most (Virginia claims that honor with eight) but it is still more than most states. But beyond the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, Illinois has been an important step on the path to the White House for a total of eleven presidents who were either nominated or re-nominated in Chicago on their way to victory in November. In fact, in the century-and-a-half since it hosted its first convention, Chicago has hosted more presidential conventions than any other U.S. city.
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As early as Wednesday, October 11th, the Cook County Board could take action to repeal the controversial Sweetened Beverage Tax (Pop Tax) that was imposed earlier this year.

The penny-an-ounce tax applies to both sugar and artificially sweetened drinks sold in bottles, cans or from fountain machines in Cook County.

In a recent poll, 87% of Cook County residents opposed the tax. This new tax was levied on Cook County residents in August of this year and comes on the heels of a 32% income tax hike.

Small businesses in Cook County are also hit hard by the tax as they are seeing sales move across county lines.

Should the Board of Commissioners fail to repeal the Pop Tax, Rep. Michael McAuliffe has filed legislation in the Illinois House of Representatives that would immediately end the tax.

Tell us what you think about the Cook County Pop Tax
Educating children should be a bipartisan issue. Two weeks ago in the General Assembly, it finally was.

After years of working on this issue and months of intense negotiations, the General Assembly passed a landmark school funding reform law that fundamentally will transform the way Illinois funds its schools. This once-in-a-generation school funding legislation is the single most important bipartisan reform Illinois has seen in decades.

As downstate legislators of different political parties, we were proud to work together on behalf of the schools and children we represent in negotiating the final agreement. Illinois will go from having the worst school funding formula in the country to having one of the best. Students in school districts lacking local wealth will be prioritized regardless of ZIP code. That means underfunded downstate districts will get the help they need. Read more.

Governor Rauner announces borrowing plan to pay down bill backlog. After conducting a thorough review of the out-of-balance fiscal year 2018 budget passed by the General Assembly in July, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Thursday that he intends to exercise borrowing authority to issue $6 billion in bonds to pay down a portion of the state’s bill backlog.

“Illinois has been deficit spending for many years, resulting in a huge unpaid bill backlog. The state has been, in effect, borrowing from local service providers, including nonprofits and small businesses, because it takes months for them to get paid,” Gov. Rauner said. “My preferred solution has always been for state government to reform its spending, and for a strong, competitive economy to grow family incomes faster than the cost of government.
by Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin

For decades, Illinois state government has had a reputation for partisan gridlock and dysfunction. We’ve seen battles in which the only glaring difference keeping people from coming together was political affiliation.

Yet several weeks ago, it became crystal clear that partisan rancor finally had to be put aside for the sake of far more important priorities.

It’s widely known that leading up to last week, Illinois had one of the most inequitable school funding systems in the nation. For decades, we used a one-size-fits-all approach that led to great disparities in how much money, per pupil, schools received to educate our children. This created a statewide system of winning and losing school districts. But because the needs of students varied greatly from community to community, reforming the way we fund our schools eluded lawmakers.
A bipartisan group of 17 Illinois state legislators is part of a contingent of lawmakers from various states asking the U.S. Supreme Court to "repair the damage partisan gerrymandering has done to the political process."

The Illinois lawmakers, including three Republican state senators from East Central Illinois, are among nearly two dozen groups that have filed amicus briefs in the Wisconsin redistricting case, Whitford v. Gill, that the court is expected to take up in October.

The 17 Illinois legislators who are listed among 65 current and former state legislators from around the country include Republican state Sens. Chapin Rose of Mahomet, Dale Righter of Mattoon and Bill Brady of Bloomington, as well as two Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago and Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood.

Their amicus brief filed Tuesday by a New York City law firm says that only the Supreme Court can "redress the damage done" by the partisan drawing of representative district maps. Read the rest of the story by Tom Kacich in the News-Gazette.
Around the turn of the 21st Century, Illinois’ tourism marketing slogan was “A million miles from Monday,” showcasing the many getaways to be found along the roads throughout the state. Though we don’t quite have a million actual miles of roadway in Illinois, our state does have an extensive highway system that has been developing since before Illinois achieved statehood almost 200 years ago.

Today, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois has 146,890 miles of roads, 16,000 of which are under state jurisdiction. The state has 2100 miles of interstate highway, which is the 3rd most of any state in the country. In Illinois nine million licensed drivers operate 10.2 million registered vehicles to the tune of 105 billion miles of travel in the state each year.
Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed Executive Order 17-05, creating the governor’s Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force.

The task force will be co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti and Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. The task force will look at strategies to prevent expansion of the opioid crisis, treat and promote the recovery of individuals with opioid-use disorder, and reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths.
Historic education funding reform passes. The new school funding formula moves towards an “evidence-based” model based on practices followed in many other states. Illinois’ 852 school districts will be given positive incentives to work hard to improve their students’ performances. The new formula is contained in SB 1947, as amended in the House. Enactment of the measure followed up on two years of bipartisan negotiations between school advocates from both parties and was a response to the school funding discussion that took place during the summer of 2017.