The Morrison Memo: September 22, 2015

Hundreds Attend Recycling Event in Arlington Heights
Last week hundreds of area residents brought their old, shreddable documents, outdated electronics, old prescriptions and other recyclable items to a large community recycling event hosted by Senator Matt Murphy, Representative David Harris, and me. The recycling event was held at Recreation Park in Arlington Heights, and by the end of the three-hour event we had filled a large shredding truck and collected thousands of pounds of other recyclables. Thanks to everyone who helped make this event a huge success!

Comptroller Munger: Early Intervention Payments will be Made
Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger announced Wednesday that her office is setting up accounts and will immediately begin making payments to Early Intervention providers as soon as it receives vouchers from the Department of Human Services (DHS).

Munger learned from her Nonprofit Advisory Council last week that Early Intervention services were "slipping through the cracks" of consent decrees requiring payments during the budget impasse, and she contacted DHS officials to discuss what payment options were available. After looking more closely at several active consent decrees, DHS and the Comptroller agreed that Early Intervention services were covered and they immediately began setting up the processes for making payments to providers.

Early Intervention providers, who work on development strategies with disabled infants and toddlers, are the latest group in a growing list of organizations to be penalized by the ramifications of the budget impasse, now in its third month. Munger announced last week that the current $6.2 billion bill backlog is expected to grow to $8.5 billion by the end of December if the impasse continues.

"It is time for members of the General Assembly to sit down with the Governor to find common ground and pass a balanced budget so we can fund our critical priorities," Munger said.

Morrison Speaks to Hoffman Estates Chamber
On Friday I had the pleasure of speaking to about 50 members of the Hoffman Estates Chamber of Commerce. Along with State Representative Michelle Mussman, we updated the group of business leaders on topics ranging from the budget impasse, to tax policy, the Rauner Turnaround Plan, and the business and economic climate. Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod moderated the successful event, which was held at Alexian Brothers Women and Children’s Hospital.

Other States Besides Illinois have also not Passed a Working Budget for Current Fiscal Year
States operating as of Monday, September 14, without a twelve-month budget include Alabama, Illinois, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Large, urbanized states such as Illinois and Pennsylvania are proving to be especially vulnerable to budget pressures, especially when the Governor’s office and the state legislature are in separate hands.

In both Illinois and Pennsylvania, Republicans have proposed significant reductions in State spending trajectories and the so-called “structural deficit,” and their proposals have been rejected by Democrats. Long-term spending pressures, especially in urbanized states, tend to be driven by Medicaid health care costs, pay and benefits for public-sector workers, and the costs of taking care of a chronologically older and slower-growing population demographic.

Morrison Visits Senior Art Fair in Palatine
I always enjoy spending time with seniors from the 54th District, and on Friday I had an opportunity to attend a traveling Art Fair at the Greencastle of Palatine, a senior assisted living facility. The quality of the art was very impressive and I look forward to visiting with the wonderful people from Greencastle again in the future.

Illinois Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.6%
The jobless percentage for August 2015 was down 0.2% from the July 2015 report of 5.8%. The decrease in the unemployment rate was not, however, accompanied by new job creation. Total nonfarm Illinois jobs remained flat at 5.92 million. The August jobless numbers were reported on Thursday, September 17.

Continued declines in the number of Illinoisans engaged in the production of tangible goods – mining, construction, and manufacturing - was matched by the continued creation of new jobs in financial activities and educational and health services. The number of Illinoisans employed in tangible-goods sectors declined by 4,200 from July to August 2015, and the number of Illinoisans employed in financial/educational/health care professional-service sectors increased by 5,000. These trends have been in place for some time.

Illinois unemployment remained significantly higher than the nationwide figure of 5.1%. In addition, many states adjacent to Illinois are reporting lower unemployment rates than the Prairie State. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 2015 unemployment rates were 4.6% in Indiana, 4.5% in Wisconsin, and 3.7% in Iowa.

While the 5.6% number is encouraging, the Chicago Tribune recently reported that while the unemployment rate dropped according to how the numbers are calculated, the actual number of working Illinoisans overall has dropped too. This is because unemployment rate numbers are calculated using a formula that only considers those out of work and looking for a job for two years. After those two years, they fall off the radar screen and are no longer considered in unemployment rates. House Republicans continue to call for enactment of measures to improve Illinois’ climate as a place to do business, invent and distribute useful goods and services, and create jobs.

800 Motorola Jobs to Move within Chicago Area
The positions, associated with management-level activities over the provider of first-responder personal communications devices and solutions, will move from Schaumburg to Chicago’s Near West Side. Motorola Solutions stated their intent to retain 1,600 existing positions in the northwest suburbs, with facilities in Schaumburg and Elgin. The announcement was made on Tuesday, September 15.

Serious work has been done since 2001, by Motorola Solutions and other firms, towards the goal of creating a seamless web of secure personal and data communications between first responders in 9-1-1 and other rapid-response situations. Motorola Solutions and its corporate predecessors have been involved in handheld communications ever since their days of making primitive “walkie-talkie” devices for Army Signal Corps use in World War II combat units, including on D-Day. The firm has expanded its offerings to cover handheld communications in a wide variety of secure commercial/industrial settings, such as among personnel on a spread-out warehouse floor.