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January/February 2009 Newsletter

Impeachment

January is typically a pretty calm month in the Illinois General Assembly.  The wheels of the legislative session are only just beginning to turn.  This year, we spent most of January making history.  The Senate trial of former Governor Blagojevich was front and center.

From my vantage point, I believe the impeachment process was fair and open and everyone involved clearly grasped the gravity of the task before them.  And the unanimous vote by the Senate demonstrated that the numerous and documented abuses of power by Blagojevich would not be tolerated and there was no choice but to impeach.

It was a little stunning, however, to have the impeachment vote and literally minutes later be witnessing the swearing in of a new governor.  But as a state, it was evident that we were ready for this transition and thrilled to be putting this painful chapter in our history behind us.

I must say, however, that the pit in my stomach over the impeachment was almost immediately replaced by worries about the overwhelming task of addressing our staggering budget deficit.  An annual shortfall of $4 or $5 billion (the number is not easily identified because of uncertain revenue projections, etc) represents approximately 15% of all state General Revenue Fund spending.  That is our education, health care and public safety spending.  And, as I have to you before, our headcount of employees is already down from approximately 81,000 in 2002 to 66,000 in 2008 – a decline of nearly 20%.  According to Senate President John Cullerton, we have the lowest per capita headcount of any state in the nation.

The good news is that the renewed sense of cooperation in Springfield is palpable.  People are smiling and walking with a little quicker step around the capital.  So I am confident that with this renewed sense of trust and purpose, we can meet these challenges

Looking Ahead:  My Legislative Agenda for 2009

Legislators returned to Springfield last week to consider legislation and hold committee hearings to consider bills.  I have developed a legislative agenda over the last couple of months and want to share a couple of items with you.

Environment

I will continue my fight for a cleaner environment by re-introducing legislation to ban the use ofdecabromodiphyl ether (deca), a chemical flame retardant that has been linked to thyroid disorders and developmental delays.  A biomonitoring study conducted last year by Environment Illinois confirmed that deca is building up in our bodies and the environment, and continues to be applied to consumer products despite uncertainty about its safety.

Condominium Issues

I have been working to pass legislation regarding the licensing of condo association managers for the past couple of years.  I hear from condominium owners and board members who are concerned about the quality of services from a manager or, worse yet, been victimized by a dishonest manager.  I have introduced a bill that sets up the details of the licensing of managers, including departmental regulation, fines, fees, and educational requirements.

I also have re-introduced legislation that would create the office of Illinois Condominium Ombudsperson.  This new state agency would be funded by a very small annual fee on each condominium unit and would provide numerous services, including educational and dispute resolution services for condominium owners and boards.

Town Hall Meetings

Senator Susan Garrett and I will host two town hall meetings to discuss state and local concerns.  We are excited for this opportunity to meet and talk with residents in our district.  The meetings will take place on:

-Saturday, March 14th 10:30-12 @ Des Plaines Public Library: 1501 Ellinwood in Des Plaines

-Monday, March 16th 7:00-8:30 @ Wood Oaks Jr. High, Multipurpose Room: 1250 Sanders Rd. in Northbrook

We hope to see you at one of the meetings!

General Assembly Scholarships

I am pleased to announce the General Assembly Scholarship applications are now available for those high school and college students who are permanent residents of the 57th district.   The scholarships offered will cover one year of tuition at the following state universities:  University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign, Chicago & Springfield), Chicago State University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Illinois State University, Northern Illinois University, Northeastern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University, and Western Illinois University.

The deadline for applications is Friday, April 17, 2009. Each scholarship will be awarded to students enrolled in undergraduate, graduate or professional curriculums. A volunteer Scholarship Committee representing the 57th District community will evaluate applications and award all scholarships.  Applications are available at my website:  www.repnekritz.org or by calling my district office at (847) 257-0450.

* Please note that after this year, any winner of the scholarship will only be eligible to win two times.*

 

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