Pre-apprenticeship program; Legislative Inspector General

Pre-apprenticeship program expanded

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has announced the $15 million expansion of its Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship program. The program is aimed at enhancing opportunities for job training in the state’s construction industry and building trades.

The program started a year ago as a way of increasing access to apprenticeship programs which can help participants obtain employment in the construction trades. Since then, the program has awarded close to $10 million in funding to 22 organizations serving around 1000 participants. The Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program is part of the Illinois Works Jobs Program Act passed by the General Assembly to help Illinoisans prepare for jobs created by the capital improvement and infrastructure program enacted in 2019.

Anyone interested in finding out more information or applying for the program should click here. The deadline to apply is September 27.

Legislative Inspector General “a watchdog, not a prosecutor”

Marking six months since his appointment was approved by the General Assembly, Illinois’ Legislative Inspector General (LIG) Michael McCuskey said in an interview that “his role is to serve as a watchdog, not a prosecutor.” McCuskey is a former federal district court judge who was appointed to be the General Assembly’s top ethics officer after his predecessor resigned in protest of weak ethics reform legislation passed in 2021.

The LIG is empowered to investigate violations of the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act when they take place within the boundaries of the state legislature. The office has had a troubled past. During the years in which former House Speaker Michael Madigan dominated state government, the office of the LIG was frequently left vacant or kept virtually powerless. Madigan left office in January 2021 and was indicted in March of 2022 along with several others as part of an alleged corruption and bribery scheme.

In the interview Judge McCuskey indicated that the role of his office is to investigate complaints and report wrongdoing to law enforcement, not to be a prosecutor or to seek the spotlight. I hope that we can pass some meaningful ethics reform in the upcoming session.

Meeting with the Fur Trappers Association

I was glad to be at Haun Park near Crescent City for a Fur Trappers Association (FTA) meeting recently. It was a great opportunity to hear concerns from trappers in our area. They love what they do and take pride in their craft. Thank you Bill for the invite. It is always good to see Bill, Paul, Louie and many more members of this good group. It was an excellent meeting! 

Gibson City Town Hall meeting

I appreciate everyone who came out for our Ford County Town Hall meeting at the Moyer Library in Gibson City on Tuesday night. We discussed a number of topics from insurance to energy to education and much more. There were a lot of important questions and great interactions. Thanks to everyone who stopped by!

Supporting the Clifton Food Pantry

A few years ago, after Illinois legislators received a pay raise, I pledged that rather than keeping it, I would donate it to a worthy cause. Therefore, every month I give a portion of my paycheck to an organization in our district that helps give back to the community.

This month I donated to Debbie Peters of the Clifton Community Food Pantry. Thank you Debbie for all that you and your team to do help the community.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,872,092,825 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $4.0 billion. 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 more than $141 billion.

Did You Know?

On a hot summer day there is nothing quite like an ice cold milkshake. While milkshakes have been around in some form or another since the 19th century, the first chocolate malted milkshake was created in an Illinois drugstore’s soda fountain 100 years ago in 1922. By coincidence or not, the creation of this shake happened to occur in the same year as the invention of the electric blender.

Happy Labor Day

It seems hard to believe, but we have reached the last weekend of summer. Thank you to the hard-working men and women in our area for whom we set aside this special weekend every year. I hope everyone is able to get out and enjoy themselves.

Have a very happy and safe Labor Day weekend!

More news from around the state

Farm Rescue to expand service to Illinois in 2023

State Fire Marshal now accepting applications for Fire Truck Revolving Loan Program

Advocates demand reforms within Illinois DCFS

Five years after massive Illinois education funding overhaul, backers see signs change is working

Illinois Harvest Permits available starting September 1

Southern Illinois’ DuQuoin State Fair continues through this weekend