December 8, 2022

Illinois news in brief for Friday, Feb. 26, 2021

IFA to provide loans for natural gas costs

The Illinois Finance Authority approved low-interest loans for municipalities hit with high gas prices during recent frigid weather.

In an emergency meeting Thursday, the IFA heard village leaders from around central Illinois saying their natural gas bills jumped exponentially.

The loans will have an interest rate of one percent.

S&P calls Pritzker’s budget ‘small step forward’

Credit rating agency S&P Global Ratings says Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed budget could be a “small step toward” better finances.

But, the agency said the proposal does not structurally balance the budget “due to the treatment of pension obligations.”

The agency also noted the state’s bill backlog in the billions and the lingering effects of the pandemic.

Inspector General says IEPA ‘dropped the ball’ on enforcing permits

An inspector general report says the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency “dropped the ball” in enforcing permits that protect fish and regulate the use of cooling water from the Chicago River.

The Office of Executive Inspector General said regulators acknowledged the IEPA didn’t enforce permits.

The IEPA told inspectors it was increasing staff and changing procedures to address the lapses.

More people seek unemployment benefits in Illinois

Illinois experienced increased initial unemployment claims last week as compared to the week before.

The U.S. Department of Labor reports an additional 75,000 Illinoisans filed for first-time benefits. Another 19,100 independent contractors also filed for unemployment benefits.

The state now has a total of 486,100 individuals drawing unemployment.

Consumer finance website WalletHub said Illinois has the third slowest employment recovery in the nation.

Republicans oppose federal bailout for Illinois

Despite his budget proposal touting a $120 million expected surplus, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that Illinois still needs billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief from federal taxpayers.

Republican members of Illinois’ congressional delegation said the pandemic didn’t cause Illinois’ fiscal mess, and the state shouldn’t get a bailout.

Congress could vote on President Joe Biden’s aid package with more than $7 billion for Illinois’s budget in the days ahead.

Inspector General takes issue with improper fundraiser

An administrator at the state-run Quincy Veterans’ Home in 2018 improperly allowed state resources to facilitate a fundraiser.

That’s according to the Office of the Executive Inspector General.

A report Thursday said the fundraiser included activities that may have required a license for raffles and poker runs, but that was never considered.

This article was originally posted on Illinois news in brief for Friday, Feb. 26, 2021

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