Week-in-Review August 6 – 10, 2018

State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) spent the week representing the 59th Senate District as an Edgar Fellow in this year’s 2018 class, joining emerging leaders from both the public and private sectors throughout Illinois for the comprehensive leadership training program.

“This fellowship creates a unique opportunity to bring together individuals with different perspectives, views and ideas into one place to have an open dialogue, learn from each other and work to better serve our communities,” said Senator Fowler. “This was an invaluable learning experience for me and a true privilege to have been selected to be part of this year’s fellowship class.”

The Edgar Fellowship is a leadership training program created to bring together leaders in the community to explore, share and learn about leadership and governing in Illinois. Those selected participated in a five-day program at the University of Illinois, exploring and discussing ways to address major policy issues cooperatively and effectively.

Before leaving for the Fellowship program Senator Fowler got a cool sendoff, joining local community members for an ice bucket challenge to benefit ALS research. Approximately 5,000 people are diagnosed with ALS each year in the U.S. Senator Fowler joined the icy challenge in an effort to help raise awareness about ALS and encourage further research into the disorder that is currently affecting more than 20,000 Americans.

In other news, Senator Fowler is congratulating a local Vienna educator for his recent nomination for the LifeChanger of the Year award. Vienna High Schools’ agricultural teacher and FFA Advisor, Jason West, was nominated for the national honor. Nominated by a student, West was praised for his dedication, passion and attitude for educating students. The award is sponsored by National Life Group, recognizing educators who embody excellence, positive influence and leadership in the classroom.

State News

Economic Upswing – Illinois Not Fully Participating

Illinois is beginning to feel the effects of a growing national economy, although there is a long way to go to restore full prosperity to the state.

Recent reports indicate the U.S. Gross domestic product (GDP) increased 4.1 percent in the second quarter of this year. Meanwhile, University of Illinois economist Fred Giertz recently reported the U of I’s Flash Index climbed to 104.9 in July. The Flash Index measures the Illinois economy based on personal and corporate income tax receipts and retail sales. The July rating is the highest level since a 105 rating in June 2016.

However, Senate Republicans note that much work remains to bring about true recovery in Illinois. While 12 years of economic decline, created in part by Democrat control of the legislature, can’t be fixed overnight, the resistance – especially over the past three years – to Republican pro-growth, pro-jobs reforms has left the state economy far short of its full potential.

It’s no surprise then that people are attracted to states where opportunity and prosperity are growing.

Creating Opportunity

A new law could help lead to more opportunity for good-paying manufacturing jobs in Illinois. House Bill 4858 allows local school districts and community colleges to apply for and receive grants for acquiring land, construction of facilities and equipment purchases, dedicated solely for the instruction of occupations in manufacturing.

Illinois lost about 11,000 manufacturing jobs in 2016, according to the Illinois Policy Institute. However, the Illinois Manufacturers Association indicates an estimated 25,000 production workers will be needed just to keep pace with the rate of “baby boomer” retirements from the workforce. Opportunities may be increasing. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates a 1.3 percent increase in the number of Illinois Manufacturing jobs over the past 12 months.

Also growing is the number of secondary and post-secondary education institutions in Illinois that have implemented programs of study to prepare youth and adults for careers in Advanced Manufacturing. However, many schools are unable to begin or expand these programs and update aging equipment due to lack of available capital. It’s hoped House Bill 4858 will be the catalyst providing new opportunities to meet an increasing industry demand for workers. The grants, under the state’s existing Industrial Development Assistance Law, would be administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Funding could include both state and federal grant dollars.

Good Government Reform

Other new laws could be help legislative leaders understand the cost of government regulations and “red tape” on small business – the largest segment of our economy.

House Bill 5253 requires State agencies to issue an economic impact analysis when proposing new rules or amendments to rules that affect small businesses. Each analysis would be required to assess regulatory impacts on hiring, purchasing, insurance, licensing fees, record keeping, compensation and benefits, and several other important aspects to running a small business.

The new law also requires State agencies to include their findings as part of their regulatory and rulemaking filings. The information is also required to be made public.

Small businesses are the backbone of our state and national economy. According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), small businesses represent 99 percent of all employer firms in the United States; they employ about half of all private-sector employees; and, generate 63 percent to 80 percent of net new jobs each year.

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