More clouds gathered over the Quinn Administration as a result of
a controversial home weatherization program, while a new report from a major
bond rating agency offered a grim forecast of the state’s job creation
In other news, a bipartisan
legislative committee put the state’s hydraulic fracturing rules on hold for
another month, and loan applications are now being accepted for fire department
and fire protection districts wishing to purchase fire and brush trucks.
Weatherization Program Scandal
Another Quinn Administration jobs
initiative is drawing headlines for wasting taxpayer dollars and failing to
provide marketable job training skills.
This time, it’s the Urban
Weatherization Initiative, started in 2009 with the intent to train workers in
weatherization and other energy efficiency trades.
Coming just days after a
bipartisan legislative commission took two days of testimony on Governor Pat
Quinn’s failed Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, a Chicago-based reform group
is highlighting the failures of the massive weatherization training program
that was supposed to create skilled workers and provide low-cost services to homeowners
across the state.
A Better Government Association (BGA) investigation has found that five
years into the program, more than $16 million has been spent, with just 183
homes upgraded and only a handful of persons actually working. The program is
also the subject of a Chicago Sun-Times report, and the newspaper editorialized that the program is a
The investigation found $13
million of the $16 million spent went toward administrative costs and training.
The program claims to have trained 1,900 persons, but the state agency charged
with overseeing the program says it does not have figures on how many trainees
found jobs or are currently working. The BGA investigation found few former
trainees who had obtained permanent work.
Hydraulic Fracturing Rules on Hold
Proposed rules for hydraulic
fracturing, often known as “fracking,” have been put on hold until November 6 by
the bipartisan legislative committee that reviews state regulations.
The Joint Committee on
Administrative Rules had placed the regulations on their October 14 meeting
agenda, but elected to push back any vote on the rules so that discussions can
continue. The committee is charged with assuring that the rules adopted will
reflect the language of Senate Bill 1715, which authorized hydraulic fracturing
when it passed in 2013.
The legislation was painstakingly
negotiated between energy companies and environmentalists and lawmakers want to
make sure the rules that state regulators will operate under accurately reflect
the language and intent of the original measure.
The Administrative Rules
committee is facing a November 15 deadline to adopt rules or force the process to
start over again. With no rules in place, some have raised concerns that a
court could order that hydraulic fracturing can begin in a virtually unregulated
S&P: Illinois last in Job Creation
A new forecast of state and local government credit conditions
ranks Illinois last in the region for job growth.
The report from rating agency
Standard & Poor’s looks at economic growth by region. Illinois is included
in the East North Central area, along with Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and
Region-wide, the report predicts
a slight improvement in unemployment rates, but warns that the projected 6.61%
average for 2014 is likely to remain above the national average and that the
area is likely to experience slower growth than other regions.
The analysis predicts
manufacturing job growth through 2014 of 1.63% for the region, but then
declares, “Illinois, despite being the least manufacturing-reliant state in the
region, ranks last in job creation.”
Fire Truck Loan Program Accepting Applications
Loan applications are now being
accepted for fire department and fire protection districts wishing to purchase
fire and brush trucks.
Thanks to bipartisan legislation
approved this year (Senate Bill 2690), loans will be available for up to $350,000 – an
increase of $100,000.
The Fire Truck Revolving Loan
Program application period began October 15 and will run until December 12. The
program offers zero percent and low-interest loans for up to 20 years. More information about the loan program and an application form can be found on the State Fire Marshal’s Web site.