With ongoing concerns associated with the current health pandemic, several weeks of the spring legislative session have been canceled. We have not been told when we will return to Springfield. Because we will undoubtedly have an abbreviated amount of time to conduct business once we return to the Capitol, House Legislative Working Groups have been formed so that smaller groups can meet by phone or on-line meeting to discuss key issues. For the purpose of these working groups, I have been assigned to the Child Welfare and Capital Infrastructure & Funding working groups. These small groups will meet regularly starting next week.
Governor Releases Preliminary Budget Shortfall Data Tied to COVID-19
This afternoon, Gov Pritzker provided a first glimpse into the budgetary challenges Illinois will face as a result of COVID-19. Reduced state revenues and spending tied to the COVID-19 response are expected to result in a $2.7 billion budget shortfall for the current fiscal year, and a projected $4.6 billion budgetary shortfall for Fiscal Year 2021.
The Governor said difficult decisions with regard to cost controls, short-term borrowing and revenue streams will need to be made to close the budget holes. He thanked the U.S. Congress for passing the CARES Act, but explained that those funds may not be used to address revenue shortages states have experienced due to the pandemic. He also urged Congress to pass a second CARES Act to specifically address the financial crisis every state is now facing due to lost revenue. I look forward to these conversations.
WorkNet DuPage Supports Workers Impacted by COVID-19
WorkNet DuPage is committed to providing workers and businesses with tools to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than ever. Through their new “From Layoff to Launch” webpage, DuPage County residents can quickly and easily access a wide range of assistance to take back control of their careers in these uncertain times.
In addition to no-cost career planning and job search services, employees facing COVID-19-related or other layoffs may qualify for up-to-$10,000 in federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grant funding. Grants can be used to attend job training, certificate, or professional development programs that lead to in-demand careers that offer strong earning potential. Those receiving unemployment can continue to do so while attending these approved training programs.
Free webinars featuring representatives from DuPage County Workforce Development Division, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) will be offered through the WorkNet DuPage website. To sign up, visit: www.worknetdupage.org/launch.
Citizens Utility Board to Offer Free Webinars with Money-Saving Tips
The Illinois Citizens Utility Board (CUB) is offering a series of free webinars in April to share money-saving tips about robocalls, pay TV service, electric bills and new solar energy programs in Illinois. The webinars are part of CUB’s continuing efforts to serve utility customers through the COVID-19 public health emergency.
CUB has gained expertise through 36 years of consumer advocacy it offers at no cost to Illinois consumers. The organization has helped save state residents $20 billion by challenging rate hikes, securing refunds, and providing tips to thousands of people who call CUB’s Consumer Hotline (1-800-669-5556) or attend free events it holds across the state each year.
Upcoming free webinars include:
- 10 a.m. Thursday, April 16: Reduce Robocalls and Cut Your Cable Bill.
Description: CUB gets two common complaints from consumers: Their phones are barraged by robocalls, and their TV bills are too high. Learn about new protections against these nuisance calls, and see our strategies to reduce your TV costs. (Register here.)
- 10 a.m. Thursday, April 23: Special Earth Week Topic: Illinois’ New Solar Programs.
Description: Thanks to strong energy policy like the Future Energy Jobs Act, it’s a good time to go solar in Illinois. Find out if your home is right for solar panels, and learn about Illinois’ new Community Solar program that allows you to enjoy the benefits of solar without having to install panels on your home. (Register here.)
- 10 a.m. Thursday, April 30: Home Energy Savings for Ameren and ComEd Customers.
Description: Learn about a whole menu of programs that can help consumers across the state of Illinois cut their energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint. (Register here.)
Drivers Receive 90-Day Extension on Renewals
The Illinois Secretary of State’s office has filed emergency rules extending expiration dates for driver’s licenses, identification (ID) cards, vehicle registrations and other transactions and document filings for at least 90 days after Driver Services facilities reopen. The previous extension was for 30 days. This move will ensure driver’s licenses, ID cards and vehicle registrations remain valid during the COVID-19 pandemic and will help alleviate the rush of customers visiting Driver Services facilities once they reopen.
While Driver Services facilities are closed to the public through April 30, many transactions with the Secretary of State’s office may still be conducted online at www.cyberdriveillinois.com. People who conduct online transactions will further help to alleviate the rush of face-to-face transactions that will occur at facilities once they reopen.
For commercial drivers, employers who are registered with the Secretary of State’s office as Third Party Testers can send in a completion form for each student that indicates the student took the road exam and the results of that exam. A commercial driver’s license will be processed in Springfield and mailed to the driver. If the employer is not a Third Party tester, then the applicant will have to wait for Secretary of State Driver Services facilities to open.
Beware of Stimulus Check Scams
I want to urge Illinois residents to be vigilant and watch for scammers trying to take advantage of the upcoming COVID-19 federal economic stimulus payments.
People should not respond to email messages, text messages, letters or phone calls that claim to include information about the COVID-19 stimulus package and request personal information or prompt recipients to click on a link. Such messages likely are sent by scammers trying to steal personal information such as bank account numbers, Social Security numbers or credit card numbers. Clicking links or opening attachments included in such messages also could result in people inadvertently downloading dangerous malware onto their computers or phones, which compromises the security of everything stored on their devices.
- You do not have to pay money. There is no fee or cost for you to receive the stimulus payment.
- The government will not demand personal information first. If you are contacted by someone who claims to work for the government and requests your Social Security number or bank account information in order to release your stimulus funds, that person is a scammer.
- You don’t need to apply. Most Americans will receive their stimulus payments automatically.
- Do not pay for assistance applying for stimulus money. Disregard offers from anyone who offers to help you to apply for the stimulus payment in exchange for money.
Report scams connected to the COVID-19 outbreak to the Attorney General.
More on protecting yourself from scams: