Unemployment rate falls; slight revenue growth

Mixed news on employment, still a long way to go
There was some mixed news from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) last week when they reported that Illinois’ unemployment rate had fallen below 5% for the first time in ten years. The new Illinois unemployment rate is 4.9%.

However, the decline in the rate was tempered by the news that the reduction in the unemployment rate was not due to new jobs being created in Illinois. In total, Illinois saw an overall loss of 8900 total non-farm jobs during the month. The most job losses were in construction, but professional and business services as well as government jobs all fell during the month. The unemployment rate declined because more than 70,000 Illinois workers left the labor force.

As it has for many years, the state’s unemployment rate remains higher than the national jobless rate, which stands at 4.5%. We also continue to trail many of our neighboring states and other states throughout the country. Illinois state government has a lot of work to do in order to bring back jobs and prosperity to our state.

Some revenue growth in March
Revenue flowing into the state’s bank account was up slightly in March as compared to March 2016. During this March, the state collected $1,805 million in income tax payments, which is up from $1,689 million last March. This comes as welcome news because for most of this current fiscal year; which began July 1, 2016, and ends on June 30, 2017; revenues have been less than they were in the comparable month of the previous year. As national economic conditions improve, tax revenue flowing into Illinois has risen slightly along with the rest of the country.

These latest numbers come from the March revenue report by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), the nonpartisan budget arm of the Illinois General Assembly.

Legislation would stop most involuntary removals from commercial aircraft
By now nearly everyone has seen the video of the passenger being forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane in Chicago earlier this month. This incident was mishandled in several ways, and now my colleague Rep. Peter Breen has introduced legislation to stop these kinds of removals from happening in the future.

House Bill 4034 creates the Airline Passenger Protection Act. The bill bans airport police and security guards employed or contracted by public entities in Illinois from removing a passenger from a plane against their will if they are already seated and holding a valid ticket. The bill has some exemptions of course, including allowing law enforcement to remove someone who has violated certain standards of conduct or committed a breach of the peace.

Hearing your questions and concerns
I recently conducted a series of public meetings around the district to hear from constituents and answer their questions. I want to thank everyone who stopped by to share their thoughts on what is happening in the state legislature. As we go back into session for the busy final weeks before adjournment, I will keep your comments and questions in mind during the ongoing debate over legislation and the budget.

If you were not able to attend one of these meetings, I still want to hear from you. You can reach my district offices in Pontiac (815-844-9179) or Watseka (815-432-0106) or visit my website at www.repbennett.com to contact me. While on the website, you can take my 2017 Constituent Survey to share your opinions on several issues that the legislature is dealing with this spring.

Did You Know?
The Boy Scouts of America were founded by an Illinoisan in 1910. William D. Boyce, a Chicago businessman and native of Ottawa, Illinois, was lost in the fog in London when an English boy scout used his lantern to help Boyce find his way. So impressed was Boyce with the young man’s kindness that he met with the scouting organization’s founder to learn more. He then brought the idea back to America where it quickly caught on. Each year in June members of the Boy Scouts of America from across the country come to Ottawa to place a wreath at William Boyce’s gravesite.