McHenry, IL. – The Senate was not in session during the week, but the time away from the Capitol gives senators more time to address issues in their districts, issues such as economic opportunity, flooding and government consolidation.
Growing Jobs and Opportunity
Synergy Flavors of Wauconda received an Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) grant to help their workers upgrade their skills in new technologies and practices. The state grant was awarded by the Illinois Manufacture’s Association in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Touring the company’s facilities on Feb. 25 was a wonderful opportunity to visit a great local company. Synergy is a leading global manufacturer and supplier of flavorings, extracts and essences. The ETIP grant will help the company continue its investment in their employees and maintain and improve its competitiveness.
Fixing Flooding on the Fox
The Fox River Flood Commission met for the first time Feb. 27. Flooding on the Fox is a big concern for 32nd District residents and others who live along the river and the Chain O’Lakes.
It appears a number of reasons, both natural and manmade, contribute to the flood threat. The situation is complicated by the removal of a Wisconsin dam, up river, which increases the flow of water downstream to our region. The operation of the Stratton Lock and Dam also plays a role. The river and the lakes are also in need of dredging. Without additional dredging, sediment deposits on the bed of the river continue to rise. This also causes the river level to rise, contributing to flooding and complicating boat navigation.
A new and updated study of the Chain O’Lakes system would provide the information necessary to make informed decisions about addressing flooding. The last study, by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was conducted in the late 1970’s. It’s a reasonable request of the Army Corps and contributing agencies to conduct a new assessment. It could provide the Fox River Flood Commission with the information it needs to come up with new recommendations to implement a comprehensive management plan protecting the river and lakes system, maintaining the recreational use of the waterways and guarding adjacent land, homes and businesses from the potential of devastating floods.
Local Government Consolidation and Taxes
The Lake County Legislative Breakfast is a great opportunity for Lake County officials to keep in touch with their state legislators on issues that impact local government. I attended the breakfast on Monday, Feb. 25. One of the important issues is government consolidation, which is a holdover issue from last year. In 2018, a McHenry County consolidation measure (HB4637) was passed by the Legislature, but vetoed by then-Gov. Bruce Rauner. The veto actually gives us more time to get things right and ensure taxpayers are protected. Several newly-proposed laws, with varying degrees of impact on taxpayers, are pending in Springfield. Those proposals don’t go far enough to protect taxpayers. That fact is the motivation behind Senate Bill 1567, which I introduced two weeks ago.
SB1567 contains three major taxpayer protections, as I explained at the Lake County Legislative Breakfast:
1) – Protects locally-collected motor fuel tax from being distributed around the state should a township vote to dissolve. That is revenue paid and collected locally; it should stay with the local taxpayers;
2) – By the same token, if the dissolved township has unpaid debt, the debt should remain the responsibility of the locals and not passed on to the rest of the county. Without such a reform, all county taxpayers are liable, and;
3) – The assets of the dissolved township or road district, if liquidated, must be used solely for the benefit of the residents of that dissolved township, and not used county-wide. This protects taxpayers who previously paid the taxes that allowed those assets to be acquired.
Senators return to the Capitol March 5.