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Linda Holmes
Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:17pm
Fri Mar 11

Foster Urges Action On Illinois 'Payer State Problem' As Budget Impasse Continues

With the state budget impasse now in its ninth month, and as social service providers and higher education institutions struggle to stay afloat financially as a result, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL,11) drew attention Friday to what he says is the "single largest driver of the financial stress" facing Illinois.

Foster spoke at a discussion in Aurora with state lawmakers and social service providers impacted by the budget stalemate, and raised awareness about the "problem" of Illinois being a payer state.

Illinois is considered to be a "payer" or "donor" state because residents pay more in federal taxes than the state receives in the form of federal funds. Consequentially, approximately $40 billion leaves Illinois annually through the federal government, according to Foster, who is proposing legislation in Congress to address the payer state issue. As of 2013, Illinoisans paid about $1,400 per person more in federal taxes and got back about $1,770 less in federal spending than the national average.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:57pm
Thu Mar 27, 2014

Illinois Lawmakers Wage Fight Against Water-Polluting Agents In Cosmetic Products; BP Oil Spill Clean Up Continues (UPDATED)

An extremely small plastic pollutant poses a big threat to the health of the Great Lakes and the state's environment. And some Illinois lawmakers are looking to take action against the problem.

At issue are the super-tiny plastic beads used in hundreds of personal cosmetic products like facial wash, body scrubs and even toothpaste. According to scientists, tens of millions of these little plastic particles have made their way into the Great Lakes.

The cosmetic microbeads, which are less than 5 millimeters in size and commonly used to help with exfoliation, often get washed down household drains. Because the plastic beads are so small, they are not captured during the water treatment process, allowing them to get into waterways.

"There's no way to recover those materials once they're out in open waters," said Olga Lyandres, research manager at the Alliance for the Great Lakes. "Once they enter the environment, they stay there."

Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
5:15pm
Tue Dec 3, 2013

Illinois Lawmakers Ram Pension Reform Bill Through, Labor Preps For Legal Fight (UPDATED)

The Illinois General Assembly passed a controversial pension reform bill Tuesday, and labor is now prepping for a legal fight.

The House voted in favor of the bill 62-53 and the Senate barely passed the measure with a 30-24 vote. The bill needed 30 votes to pass through the Senate.

State Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora), who was the lone member of the ten-person, bipartisan conference that didn't vote for the bill to move out of committee said the state's pension debt is the fault of the state legislature — not public employees and retirees. She also pushed back against House Speaker Michael Madigan's (D-Chicago) assertion earlier today that the pension system was "too rich" for what the state to afford.

“I believe this was actually more caused by the fact that we as a state did not make our pension payments as we should have even though the employees worked and their full payments were made,” Holmes said. “So I think a lot of this problem stems from the fact that we actually didn’t do what we were obligated and should have done.”

Quick Hit
by Michael Sandler
11:07am
Fri Jul 12, 2013

Wage Against the Machine: Chicagoans Demand Minimum Wage Increase

On Thursday afternoon, a group of protesters converged outside of the James R. Thompson Center to continue the call for a raise of Illinois’ minimum wage.

At the rally, speakers from policy groups including Stand Up! Chicago, Action Now, and the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability urged state lawmakers and business owners to work together to increase the minimum wage from $8.25 per hour. Illinois’ rate is the fourth-highest in the nation, behind Vermont, Oregon and Washington. Gov. Pat Quinn supports an increase to the minimum wage, calling for 20 percent increase to the wage during his State of the State address in February. Meanwhile, a bill proposed back in 2011 (SB 1565) has yet to be voted on.

The ralliers argued that cost of living increases since the last time Illinois raised its minimum wage — which was phased in from 2006 to 2010 — need to be accounted for. Elizabeth Parisian, policy director for Stand Up! Chicago, said a two-parent, two-child family would have to earn just over $69,000 annually to make ends meet, and a one-parent, one-child household would have to earn just under $49,000 to sustain themselves in the current economy. Parisian said Stand Up! Chicago is asking the state to increase the minimum wage to $10.60 per hour.

“Low wage and minimum wage workers need a raise. And so any effort to bump their pay is good for the economy,” said Parisian, who also argued that workers will spend more if their income levels rise.