Ethics reform needed now more than ever; unemployment declines

Madigan implicated in bribery scheme

The electric utility ComEd was charged by federal prosecutors on Friday in a bribery plot in which they allege ComEd gave jobs and other benefits to “various associates of a high-level elected official for the state of Illinois.” The U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago referred to that elected official as “Public Official A” and later stated that “Public Official A” is the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. Though his name does not appear and he has not been charged with wrongdoing, the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives is Michael Madigan.

The news of a federal criminal investigation implicating Speaker Madigan and revelation as “Public Official A” are troubling and have added another sad chapter in the story of Illinois’ culture of corruption. Our great state must elect leaders who focus on public service and who uphold the faith of its people. Speaker Madigan needs to speak out on this issue and if the allegations are true, resign. I urge the Governor and the majority Democratic leadership in the General Assembly to stand up and demand an explanation. It is time for the Governor to call a special session on ethics reform. Illinois citizens deserve better.

Illinois unemployment declines in June

As the state and national economies continue to rebound from the coronavirus outbreak and shutdowns, there was some good news in Illinois. Unemployment fell in the state from 15.3% in May to 14.6% in June, as 142,000 people went back to work. Overall, unemployment is down from its April peak of 17.2%. But we still have a long way to go to get back to where we were before the outbreak. One year ago Illinois unemployment was 4.0%.

Illinois unemployment remains 3.5% above the national average, which fell by 2.2% from May. Many sectors of the economy showed gains, the largest being the Leisure and Hospitality sector which added 58,700 jobs. Trade, Transportation and Utilities gained 40,800 jobs and Education and Health Services added 24,600 jobs. While these are encouraging signs of progress, there are still hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Compared to last year non-farm payroll employment is down by just under 600,000 jobs in Illinois.

Join me for a Facebook Live discussion of Illinois agriculture

This Thursday at 5 p.m. I will be joined by local farmers Matt Boucher of Livingston County, Nowell Moore of Woodford County and Clinton Charles from Iroquois County to discuss agriculture and agribusiness during the coronavirus pandemic. This year has brought a great many challenges for farmers in Illinois and around the country. As agriculture is our number one industry in Illinois, local residents won’t want to miss this important discussion. Visit my Facebook page for more information.

Deadline for ICJIA grant applications is Friday July 24

Applications will be accepted by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority until Friday for grants under the federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program in “areas disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to prevent, prepare for, or respond to the coronavirus.” A total of $7.9 million is available statewide, but applications must be in by 11:59 p.m. on Friday July 24. Click here for more information

More news from around the state

The latest update from the Department of Public Health

Statement of House Republican Leader Durkin on the ongoing federal corruption investigations

When should you get a coronavirus test after exposure? Top health official shares best timeline

COVID-19 took a big toll in Illinois. Will deaths surge again?

Loans available from state Treasurer’s office for farmers and agriculture professionals

For additional helpful resources, click here.

For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: coronavirus.illinois.gov or my website at repbennett.com and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at dph.sick@illinois.gov.

My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).