New Governor, General Assembly elected; State report card issued

Illinois elects new Governor, General Assembly
On Tuesday Illinoisans chose J.B. Pritzker to become the 43rd Governor of Illinois. They also elected Juliana Stratton as the next Lieutenant Governor and Kwame Raoul to be our new Attorney General. Secretary of State Jesse White, Treasurer Mike Frerichs and Comptroller Susana Mendoza were all re-elected as well. When the new statewide officers are sworn in on January 14, it will be the first time that Democrats have held all six posts since 2007.

The lineup for the 101st General Assembly will include Democrat majorities in both the House and the Senate. It therefore appears likely that House Speaker Michael Madigan will be chosen for another term in the post he has held almost continuously since 1983. It also looks like Senate President John Cullerton will be back for two more years at the helm of that chamber.

Now that the election is over, I hope we can put aside all the overheated rhetoric and remember the important task that the people of Illinois have given to us. Our state faces serious challenges and we need to work together to address them. Political games and excessive partisanship are not helpful. If Governor-elect Pritzker proposes good ideas, I will work with him. If he suggests bad ideas, I will vigorously oppose him. If there is an opportunity to work together to find a compromise that is acceptable to all sides and which will help our state, then I will do what I can to make that happen.

Public office is a trust, and I am grateful that the people of the 106th District have chosen to entrust me with the responsibility of being their voice in Springfield for the next two years. I will work hard every day to be that voice and to put the best interests of our district and our state first.

Illinois Report Card released
The annual Illinois Report Card, which measures the performance of all Illinois schools and school districts, has been released. This year’s report card is the first one to be released since the General Assembly adopted historic education funding reform last summer. Part of that reform included a revamp of the way we evaluate the effectiveness of each school and the state school system in its entirety.

Among the overall findings of the report card was data showing record enrollment in Illinois schools. The report card, which has been issued since 1996, found the highest number of Illinois students heading for college in its history. In all, nearly three quarters of graduates from the Class of 2017 are enrolled in college 12 months after graduation. The report card also shows a higher number of students taking advanced placement courses in high school.

Persons visiting the Illinois Report Card website can sort the data to look at the performance of individual schools and school districts, or sort by city or county.

How much do we owe? 
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $7,595,623,720 in unpaid bills to state vendors. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be approximately $130 billion.

Visiting Fiberteq and Autozone
My thanks to Tinisha Shade-Spain of Vermilion Advantage for helping me visit and tour the Fiberteq and Autozone facilities in Danville. Jon Stalcup and his team from Fiberteq helped me understand more about what they do, their challenges and what Illinois can do to help. Marvin Clemmons and John Jansky from Autozone helped me learn more about how their distribution center is used to help them reduce costs and be competitive. I am glad both businesses are in Danville and in Illinois!

Happy Veterans Day!

Sunday November 11 is Veterans Day, the day we thank all those who have served our nation and helped protect the freedoms and liberties that we hold dear. Every Veterans Day is important, but this year is especially noteworthy as it is the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. It was that annual celebration, first called Armistice Day, which became the holiday we now know as Veterans Day.

We live in the greatest nation in the world. It did not become the greatest just by accident, nor does it stay that way by happenstance. Remember to take a moment to say thank you to those who have worn the uniform and sacrificed for our country. We are grateful for your service.

Did You Know?
Interstate 57 is the longest interstate highway in Illinois, running from Chicago to Cairo. The road was opened in multiple stages as they were completed. The final stretch, a 20-mile section between Rantoul and Buckley, opened on November 22, 1971. Interstate 74 was completed the next day when a 36-mile stretch between Mahomet and Bloomington opened.