ADM, Deere, Caterpillar honored as top Illinois firms. The honor was published in “Illinois Top 200,” a series of online surveys enabling Illinois respondents to honor local leadership activities, institutions, and experiences. Illinois respondents were asked to honor their favorite “homegrown companies,” in a list that also included McDonald’s, Walgreens, Rand McNally, DeKalb AgResearch, Sears, State Farm, and Dairy Queen.
While he’s taking on such issues as solar energy and the proposed mileage tax in this spring's session of the Illinois General Assembly, the people of the Murray Developmental Center, the residents of his 108th District, and his historical family farm are always close to his heart. State Representative Charlie Meier is our guest today.

Jobs – February 2018 unemployment
Illinois notches new all-time high in payroll jobs. The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), which compiles Illinois nonfarm payroll job numbers in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, announced this week that revised employment numbers for January 2018 show that Illinois has notched a new peak employment level. The revised statistics show that nearly 6.1 million men and women were employed on Illinois-based nonfarm payroll jobs in January 2018. The new high was achieved as the result of net new jobs that had been created in calendar year 2017 within Illinois.
Rep. Dan Swanson is serving his first term in the Illinois House of Representatives, this after serving over 27 years in the Illinois Army National Guard and with the United States Army, culminating with the rank of Lt. Colonel.

 He also helps attend to a fifth-generation family farm and works with "Homegrown by Heroes," whose mission it is to serve veterans. Our guest today is 74th District State Representative Dan Swanson.

“Persistence pays off, and a refusal to give up never hurts.”
~ Rep. Mike Unes on  moving his legislation to sell
Hanna City Work Camp through the General Assembly.
A longtime Peoria County eyesore could soon be up for sale if the Illinois Legislature follows through.

If you’ve driven along Illinois Route 116 on your way to Hanna City or to Farmington, you’ve likely glanced out your window at the dilapidated collection of structures gradually being reclaimed by nature and, like us a week ago on the way to breakfast, tutted over the ugliness.

For years, that’s been the gradually declining condition of the former Hanna City Work Camp, which has sat vacant and unused.

About a decade ago the state-owned facility was turned over to the county through legislation, though in the intervening years the local government hasn’t found anything to do with it, despite a lot of brainstorming. Read the rest of the story.
Budget – COGFA report
Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) releases February 2018 report. February 2018 State general funds receipts grew significantly over similar figures posted in February 2017. However, as with previous months in FY18, this healthy year-over-year performance was significantly affected by an income tax increase enacted in July 2017. During the year-over-year period that spanned February 2017 and February 2018, sales tax receipts grew by 13%, individual income tax receipts grew 50%, and corporate income tax receipts increased by 378%.
Sometimes the smallest changes can have the biggest impact, especially when it comes to legislation.

This year a minor change in the Illinois Veterans Preference Act could mean more job opportunities for those who have served their country. Rep. Norine Hammond introduced HB4288 earlier this year that would add qualifying members of the National Guard from any state, who now live in Illinois, to the Veterans Preference Act.

Currently, the act allows US Armed Forces veterans (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard), Merchant Marines or members of the Illinois National Guard to qualify for preference in certain state jobs. However, if a current Illinois resident served in the Guard of another state they would not qualify, an oversight Hammond hopes to rectify with her legislation.

This is good legislation that will ensure everyone who serves our county has an opportunity to qualify for jobs covered by the Illinois Veterans Preference Act.

Education – Scholarships
Tax credit scholarship clearinghouse announces more than 33,000 applications. The benchmark news came from Empower Illinois, one of the nonprofit entities overseeing implementation of the Illinois tax credit scholarship program created by the Illinois General Assembly in 2017. Under this new tax credit, Illinois income taxpayers are authorized to donate moneys to an approved scholarship clearinghouse. The moneys will be used to pay for scholarships to be awarded to enable children to attend fee-charging schools. Scholarships that will cover 50 to 100 percent of a student’s tuition and school-related expenses will be awarded to children from income-eligible households.
State Representative Tony McCombie talks about respecting each others positions, creating jobs in Illinois and the need to reduce property taxes.

She also talks about her legislation to protect Illinois families and ensure the safety of state employees.