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Following the announcement of planned power plant closures, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) will be holding hearings statewide to discuss the current downstate electricity-distribution system and what can be done to ensure downstate electricity reliability. The ICC will be holding a hearing in Hillsboro this Tuesday, January 16, 2018, from 1-2 p.m., at the Montgomery County Courthouse, #1 Courthouse Square, in the old court room on the second floor. The hearing is open to the public.
 
State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) and other local leaders will be in attendance, as well as representatives from Dynegy, the largest downstate energy producer. Dynegy owns the Coffeen Power Plant and an additional seven other power plants in central and southern Illinois.
 
The company has stated that under downstate Illinois' current electricity-distribution system, it may have to close at least four power plants by 2021 or sooner. The economic impact of these closures would mean the loss of almost 550 jobs and threaten approximately 4,000 indirect jobs.
 
“I would like to encourage people to attend this hearing and be informed on this issue that is vitally important to our area’s economy. I have introduced legislation, House Bill 4141, to prevent plant closures by reducing the competitive disadvantage faced by downstate energy producers,” stated State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond). She added, “But public input is needed, as well, to ensure that downstate communities and energy consumers benefit from the changes proposed to restructure the market.”
 
Bourne’s bill is a result of meetings with Dynegy Inc. and is currently in the beginning stages of the legislative process.  
 
If unable to attend the hearing, there is a website where community members can submit comments - www.powerillinoisjobs.com. If you have further questions or would like more information, please call Representative Bourne’s District Office in Litchfield at (217) 324-5200.
Did you know that January is "National Blood Donor Month"?

Donating regularly is a good way to ensure that blood is available in an emergency for someone in need. The need for blood donors is constant and your contribution is important for a healthy and reliable supply.

You’ll feel good knowing you've helped change a life!
Below is a link that you can use to find all the blood drive in your area:
 
http://www.redcrossblood.org/rcbmobile/drive/driveSearch.jsp
With the arrival of the New Year comes a series of new laws enacted by the State of Illinois. This year, over 200 new laws will take effect on January 1. These include bills for small technical corrections as well as major pieces of legislation.

Click here to read through a recap of these new laws which will be on the books next year. 
 
For more information on all the bills in the General Assembly, visit www.ilga.gov.
 
Individuals impacted by addiction to opioids and other substances now have a helpline for immediate assistance thanks to the launch of a statewide call center,” said State Representative Avery Bourne of Raymond. She praised the Rauner Administration for working to tackle this crisis and was proud to join her colleagues in the General Assembly in voting for policies to combat the opioid epidemic in Illinois.

“If you or someone you know needs help, please pick up the phone and call 1-833-2FINDHELP,” said Bourne. “My hope is that this helpline will connect those suffering from addiction and their families to the information and resources that they need,” said Representative Bourne.

The helpline will provide a confidential outlet for individuals experiencing opioid use disorders, their families and anyone affected by the disease 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Helpline specialists are trained in evidence-based approaches to help connect callers with treatment and recovery-support services.

“This helpline will provide a quick way for Illinoisans struggling with dangerous addictions to access resources, treatment options, and support,” Gov. Rauner said. “We are focused on helping them get on the road to recovery to combat further drug overdose tragedies.”

In launching this helpline, Governor Rauner is fulfilling his promise to tackle the opioid crisis and combat the growing number of overdose deaths related to heroin, other opioids, and synthetics like fentanyl. Administration officials have been meeting throughout the year to establish an agenda to combat the epidemic. Rauner unveiled the Opioid Action Plan and signed Executive Order 17-05, creating the Opioid Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force this year. The task force was charged with building strategies that would help reduce projected opioid overdose-related deaths by one-third within the next three years.

IDPH data shows opioid overdoses killed 1,946 people in Illinois in 2016 — more than one and a half times the number of homicides and nearly twice the number of fatal motor vehicle accidents. In addition, data from the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) estimates that approximately 248,000 Illinois residents need, but do not receive, treatment for illicit drug use.
New education funding that comprehensively changes the way that school districts receive the bulk of state funds was just enacted in Illinois. The new evidence-based funding sends more resources to Illinois’ most needy districts and demonstrates a new mindsets for understanding the relationship between equity, adequacy, and student outcomes.

Read more here at the Illinois State Board of Education's website: https://www.isbe.net/Pages/EvidenceBasedFunding.aspx

There are a lot of benefits to shopping local, but the biggest benefit is that for every $100 you spend at a local business, roughly $68 stays in your local economy. (Source: Civic Economics Study in Grand Rapids, Michigan) State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) would like to remind shoppers that they are supporting our community in a dramatic way by shopping locally. So this Small Business Saturday, November 25th, visit a small business in this area. You’ll find something original, unique, or handmade and you’ll be making a big impact.

“Our small towns have a lot to offer in the way of small businesses,” said Representative Bourne. “Whether shopping at a town square, antique mall, or another exceptional small business in our area, you are doing a lot more than finding that special gift.”


According to the U.S. Small business Administration:


   Small businesses account for 99.6% of Illinois businesses

  There are 2.4 million small business employees in Illinois

  Small businesses account for 46% of all Illinois employees
 
 
 
 
Dollars spent at community-based merchants create a multiplier in the local economy, called the “local multiplier effect.” This means that from each dollar spent at a local independent merchant, 2 to 3.5 recirculates in the local economy. That’s a big impact for our local businesses and community.



 
Happy Thanksgiving!

Please note that our Litchfield District Office will be closed
Wednesday, November 22 - Friday, November 24 for the holiday.

During Veto Session, a bill co-sponsored by State Representative Avery Bourne, House Bill 4141, was presented before a Joint House and Senate Energy Committee for consideration. The legislation aims to reduce the competitive disadvantage faced by downstate energy producers. This bill is a result of numerous meetings with Dynegy Inc., the largest downstate energy producer, and its aim is to stabilize the region’s energy market and to prevent power plant closures.

Dynegy operates the Coffeen Power Plant along with seven other power plants in central and southern Illinois. The company has stated that under downstate Illinois' current electricity-distribution system, it may have to close at least four power plants by 2021 or sooner. The economic impact of these closures would mean the loss of almost 550 jobs and threaten approximately 4,000 indirect jobs.

Representative Bourne said, “We are in the beginning stages of the bill and we will continue to work through the committee process. I am glad that both the legislature and the administration are engaged in discussions on this important issue.” She added, “Illinois needs to ensure that there is fairness in the energy marketplace so that we have stability and can prevent future closures. Beyond the implications at the state level, this issue is critical for Montgomery County - for our schools, our communities and our county, and I will continue fighting to keep our jobs here.”


House Bill 4141 is an effort to bring downstate electricity reliability by allowing Dynegy to pull out of the 15-state Mid-Continent Independent System Operator distribution system (MISO). Additionally, Dynegy will take over procuring capacity for all customers in their zone (current zone 4 of MISO) and restructure pricing. An identical bill has been filed in the Senate. Both measures await a committee vote.

State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) commends the recent efforts by the Governor and Comptroller to approve and use proceeds from Illinois' recent General Obligation bond sale to begin paying down a major portion of the state's current $16.7 billion backlog. This move stops the clock on a mountain of interest payments accruing on Illinois' late bills, some dating back to 2015.

“After years of fiscal mismanagement, it’s important that the state look realistically at our situation and assess what can be done,” said Bourne. She added, “The sale of bonds to stop the accrued interest is a step in the right direction. The next step is to control spending and look at how we as a state can grow our economy. Illinois can’t continue down the same failed path of unbalanced budget after unbalanced budget. We need planning and the stability that it brings.”

The Comptroller’s office estimates that the state owes $900 million in late payment interest penalties on its bill backlog. The bond sale effectively refinances future interest costs on the state's existing debt, saving taxpayers billions of dollars over the next decade.

These payments will help to stop the bleeding of late payment interest penalties on this portion of the backlog. There is still a long, hard road ahead of us, but this is a vital first step toward smart planning for FY2019 and beyond.

In total, the Office of the Comptroller expects to receive about $6.48 billion in bond proceeds, including a $480 million premium from the sale on top of the $6 billion initially offered, an indicator of the strong market demand for the bonds.

Through the use of federal matching funds, it is expected this will turn a $6.48 billion bond offering into a nearly $9 billion investment which initially targets our state's struggling healthcare system and medical providers, many of whom have had to turn to third parties for loans just to stay afloat.
According to the Office of Management and Budget, the state of Illinois’s fiscal year 2018 budget is out of balance by $1.7 billion. State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond), who voted against the out-of-balance budget believes that the imbalance could have been avoided through tough financial decision making, structural reforms, and a true, fair budget-making process.
 
“Clearly, the path that we continue to follow- passing unbalanced budgets, is not working for the state of Illinois. We will never dig ourselves out of this fiscal mess if we continue the culture of overspending without any meaningful reforms,” said Representative Bourne. “I am also opposed to the permanent income tax increase that this budget relied upon. It will not solve our long-term problems and is not the way to grow our economy.”
 
The Illinois Economic and Fiscal Policy Report presents a five-year economic outlook based on the budget along with state and national growth forecasts. The GOMB compiles the report, which is available for public view at https://www.illinois.gov/gov/budget/Pages/PolicyReports.aspx.

In the report, GOMB Director Scott Harry asserts that with stronger economic growth accompanied by spending controls, Illinois could achieve budget surpluses and reduce its bill backlog to an estimated $500 million by the end of fiscal year 2023.

Enacting the republican 2018 budget proposals, according to Harry, would have saved the state enough to balance this year’s budget. The plan proposed savings through reforms in government group health insurance programs ($600 million); Medicaid ($525 million); and issuing revenue rather than general obligation bonds to pay down the state’s bill backlog ($60 million in interest this year, and $390 million over the 12-year life of the bond).

“Balancing the budget and enacting reforms would let us grow the economy, control spending, pay down our debt, and invest in jobs,” Harry said. “It is time for the political leaders of our state to come together to build long-term fiscal stability so we can expand our economy,” he added. “The only way to resolve our fiscal issues is to grow the economy faster than our spending.”