Traveling across the district this week, State Sen. Dale Fowler began recording new segments for his “Southern Illinois Treasures” series, promoted the upcoming Southern Illinois Made Expo, and joined the residents of the Heritage Woods Assisted Living Facility for a visit.
Kicking off the start to the week, Sen. Fowler joined the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) for the start of this year’s Law Enforcement Torch Run. The annual fundraiser benefits Special Olympics Illinois, an organization dedicated to giving those with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to compete, participate, and enjoy Olympic-type sports.
“This Torch Run does so much to help raise funds and awareness for the incredible athletes who compete in the Special Olympics,” said Sen. Fowler. “It is a huge event that brings together law enforcement from across the state for a great cause, and is truly inspirational.”
The event kicked off on June 11 in Marion and the torch will be carried by runners from 15 IDOC facilities all the way to Normal, marking Illinois’ longest continuous torch run.
Sen. Fowler also visited with the residents of the Heritage Woods Assisted Living Facility in Benton. The facility is a nursing home alternative designed to serve those 65 and older who need extra assistance.
Also during the week, Sen. Fowler began filming new segments of his “Southern Illinois Treasures” series, a tourism initiative dedicated to showcasing unique destinations and attractions available throughout the region.
“We’re seeing record numbers in our state’s tourism industry, boosting our economy, and bringing in visitors from all over,” said Sen. Fowler. “Southern Illinois has so much to offer, and tourism is critical to our region. My hope is that these videos help bring attention to our local offerings and highlight some of Southern Illinois’ amazing attractions to visit.”
Nearly 114 million people traveled to the state last year to “Enjoy Illinois” and gave a $1.1 billion boost to the state’s economy. Last year’s visitor totals were 1.4 percent higher than in 2016, which also was a record year.
Travelers came from all over the world for business (17 percent) and pleasure (83 percent). In the past 10 years, travelers visiting Illinois increased by more than 22 million, and tourism has become one of the state’s most important industries. Tourist spending saves the average Illinois household more than $1,300 in taxes each year.
New episodes of Sen. Fowler’s series and previously-recorded segments of the series can be found at senatorfowler.com.
Southern Illinois’ tourism industry will also receive additional attention at Sen. Fowler’s upcoming Southern Illinois Made Expo, scheduled for July 28 and 29. The event, which was highlighted by Sen. Fowler during the recent Marion Chamber of Commerce luncheon, will be taking place at the Marion Pavilion, giving local businesses and destinations a chance to showcase their impressive products and offerings.
The event is open to the public, with a suggested entrance fee of $5 going toward the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois. The two-day event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.
In other news, Sen. Fowler is providing additional information to those state employees who are expected to receive back pay under the Fiscal Year 2019 Illinois budget. After years of waiting, the workers are looking for a time frame for when they might see the funds paid out.
“This is about the state living up to a promised obligation, providing workers with the payment they are due,” said Sen. Fowler.
These funds were appropriated in the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget and the Comptroller’s office is ready to pay them out; however, they’re waiting on the affected state agencies to submit the necessary paperwork to process these payments.
As agencies work to close the books on Fiscal Year 2018, they are also trying to work through the newly enacted budget. At this time it is unclear as to when they will begin to process the supplemental vouchers; however, they have until October 31, 2018 to submit them.