Governor's plan is short-term budget
relief, not long-term reform
A draft of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's
pension plan made available to legislators April 7 -- the first
solid details since the Feb. 16 budget address -- makes it clear
that the governor is seeking short-term budget relief, not long-term
I am a member of the governor's
pension commission, which has been meeting since April 2004 to
address Illinois' severely underfunded public pension systems. The
governor is using the commission's recommended savings allocation
plan -- which I opposed -- and proposes short-funding the pension
systems by more than $800 million next year, although many budget
forecasting groups project that the actual savings will only be
Our initial analysis of the
governor's plan shows that it lists specific amounts that the state
will contribute to its pension systems in 2006, rather than a
formula based on the needs of a pension system that has reforms in
place. This indicates the governor's plan is all about a quick
source of cash for his budget rather than any meaningful reforms
that will help the state meet its constitutional pension obligations
to teachers and other state employees.
Educate student athletes about
steroid abuse dangers
Teaching student athletes about the
dangers of steroid abuse is the aim of legislation approved April 11
by the Illinois Senate.
Senate Bill 64 requires school districts to teach junior high
and high school students participating in athletic programs about
the dangers of using anabolic steroids.
A National Institute of Drug Abuse
study showed an increase in steroid abuse among middle school
students and a decline in the percentage of 12th-graders who
believed that steroids pose a health risk. We need to make sure
student athletes understand that the inappropriate use of anabolic
steroids can stunt their height and increase their risks for
premature heart attacks, strokes, liver tumors, kidney failure and
serious psychiatric problems.
Supported by the State Board of
Education, Senate Bill 64 now moves to the House for further
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Nominations for Home Town Awards due
The Governor's Home Town Awards
program gives formal recognition to outstanding community volunteer
projects. Awards are presented in eight categories, based on
Applications for awards may be
submitted by a variety of community representatives, such as local
governments, schools, community organizations and chambers of
commerce. Applications are reviewed by a team of impartial volunteer
judges, who conduct site visits to finalist communities before
deciding on winners. The judges also select one project from among
the first-place winners to receive the Governor's Cup.
Applications are due in Springfield
by close of business on June 17. Both individual category winners
and the Governor's Cup designee are announced during the annual
Governor's Home Town Awards banquet each June in Springfield.
The program is administered by the
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
For more information, contact the
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, 620 E.
Adams St., Springfield, IL 62701; (217) 558-2838; TTY (217)
785-6055; or check
Sen. Bill Brady]