SPRINGFIELD, IL – As the House of Representatives continues its month-long vacation, Illinois became the only state in the nation without a state budget. Now, as Illinois begins its 10th month of a budget stalemate, lawmakers will return to Springfield April 4 to begin the final two months of the 2016 spring legislative session.
Senate Republicans have continued to put forward proposals that would reform and fund critical state programs, such as K-12 education. They are calling on Democrat lawmakers to stop with the political partisan games and work on the compromises needed that will move Illinois forward.
Also during the week, efforts to turnaround Illinois’ information technology “IT” services received a much-needed boost with the Governor’s new “DoIT” group to provide greater value for taxpayers. Illinois is the third leading state in terms of spending on “IT” infrastructure, but comes in the bottom third of states when it comes to return on “IT” investments.
A downstate Senate Republican is working on legislation to crack down on potential ethical lapses by elected officials. Additionally, Site Selection Magazine has recently ranked Illinois near the top of its ratings categories, which could spell good news for the state’s somewhat sluggish economy.
Congratulations to our own Cheap Trick
April 1st marks the annual “Cheap Trick Day” in Illinois, thanks to legislation passed into law by State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) in 2007. This year the annual observance also marks the release of the band’s newest album, “Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello,” and the approach of their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 8th.
Rockford-based Cheap Trick is credited with over 6,000 performances, 21 million records sold, appearances on 29 movie soundtracks, and 40 gold and platinum record awards.
Senator Syverson says he is grateful that even with all of the success and fame Cheap Trick has earned, the band still makes their home in Rockford.
License plate sticker renewal reminder
Senate Republicans are reminding Illinois motorists that, due to the budget impasse, the Secretary of State’s office is NOT mailing license plate sticker renewal notices. As a result, please be sure to check license plates to see if they are nearing their expiration notice. This will help ensure motorists avoid receiving a possible ticket for not being in compliance. To learn more, or sign up for electronic renewal notices, please visit; www.cyberdriveillinois.com or stop by a local SOS facility.
DoIT moving ahead with transformation
The Governor’s Administration is advancing the state’s information technology system into the 21st Century amid a major push to modernize a technology infrastructure that has components predating Microsoft’s Windows Operating Systems. Currently, customers that work with the state wait months to receive proper permits and licenses to business in the state. By overhauling the state’s “IT” systems, wait times will go from months to weeks, or even days in some cases.
The state’s Chief Information Officer Hardik Bhatt was joined by the agency heads of the Department of Corrections (IDOC) and Department Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to talk about the efforts that have been achieved since Executive Order 16-01 was signed on Jan. 25.
A four-tiered transformational approach is being used;
· Cultural Transformation – moving out of “silos” to make state agencies work and talk with each other easier.
· Operational Transformation – more than 400 outdated systems run the state’s core functions. As an example, it takes four different systems for an agency to order paperclips.
· Customer Service Transformation – making Illinois more customer-based in order to allow more functions to be done on-line and via mobile device platforms.
· Organizational Transformation – moving the state’s 1,700 “IT” professionals under one organizational umbrella for a more functional “command and control” structure and to ensure better communication.
More than 1.1 million Illinoisans are subject to professional licensure under hundreds of activities that are regulated by the agency and in response, the department has moved to an online-basis for licensing. The modern approach will allow business professionals to achieve faster results by tracking their licensing applications via the Department’s new Web site and in coming months, the agency will have a mobile device platform available.
The Department of Corrections has successfully launched the “Offender 360” program, which allows IDOC staff to track and maintain more current records on more than 45,000 inmates currently in custody. The oldest mainframes in the IDOC inventory date back to the administration of the late-Governor Dan Walker. “Offender 360” also allows for a more holistic approach to inmate management, which will lead to better outcomes and help reduce recidivism.
The newest IDOC “IT” upgrades replace an outdated 1970s mainframe technology to more modern “cloud-based” systems. The “Offender 360” new rollout comes after two previously-failed attempts under former Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration.
Barickman ethics proposal introduced
To bring greater honesty, transparency, and public trust to Illinois government, State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) has introduced legislation that would tighten rules for constitutional officers and legislators.
Senate Bill 2764 would enhance the state’s grant-making process by preventing elected officials from abusing their power when awarding grants. The legislation would impose a blackout period on constitutional officers and legislators from announcing grants close to an election; require a merit-based review of how grant recipients are selected, which will require documentation of award decisions including evaluation and scoring of applicants; and authorize a state agency to stop payments to any grant recipient that is not in compliance with the agreement.
Barickman’s proposal is in response to the months-long audit review of former Gov. Quinn’s controversial Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI). Many questioned Quinn’s political motives when he awarded more than $50 million in NRI grants in the weeks leading up to the 2010 general election.