Week in Review: June 16

Bennett Legislation Targeting Teaching Shortage Signed into Law

Illinois schools now have a new tool to help combat the statewide teaching shortage, making it easier for qualified teachers to step back into classrooms and provide the best education possible for students.Legislation filed byState Senator Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) has been signed into law that will make it easier for retired teachers to help fill temporary vacancies and serve as substitutes.

“This law presents another alternative for schools to address temporary and substitute teaching needs. By filling teaching positions at schools, we can improve educational opportunities available to students. This is another significant step in our ongoing efforts to address the teacher shortage, and our commitment remains strong to giving children the best education possible.”

Senate Bill 1468, filed by Bennett, would allow teachers who are receiving retirement benefits to accept employment as teachers for up to 120 days or 600 hours per school year through June 30th, 2026, and a maximum of 100 days or 500 hours beginning July 1st, 2026, and thereafter.

Worst Illinois Drought Conditions in a Decade

The latest drought monitor revealed that Illinois is seeing the worst drought conditions in a decade. While severe drought is not unusual in Illinois, the number of counties under severe drought conditions is higher than normal. According to the drought monitor’s data, more than 14 percent of the state is under severe drought conditions. This is the highest number of counties since the 2012 drought conditions.

While drought conditions are ongoing, it is still too early to have a large impact on agriculture. Right now, crops and trees are only starting to show signs of stress. But if drought conditions continue then potential yield could start to be impacted. While impacts are only moderate on larger farms, more specialty crop growers are facing either increasing damage to crop yields or rising costs to irrigate.

West Nile Virus Reported in Four Counties in Illinois

Next week is Mosquito Control Awareness Week. According to the Illinois Department of Health there have been reports of positive batches of West Nile virus found in four counties around the state. These counties are Cook, LaSalle, Morgan, and St. Clair. So far, no human cases have been reported in Illinois. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches.  Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks.  Most people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms, but in rare cases it can lead to severe or even death. As the IDPH is working to control the virus, it encourages the public to “fight the bite” by practicing the three “R’s” – reduce, repel, and report.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,085,136,745.17 to  state vendors, including 27,906 pending vouchers. This figure represents the number of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and is still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $139 billion. At the same time last year, the state’s accounts payable stood at a little less than $2 billion.

Did You Know?

Wednesday, the 14th, was Flag Day. This day celebrates the adoption of the national flag. The flag’s history traces back to the American Revolutionary War, with the first official flag featuring 13 alternating red and white stripes and a circle of 13 stars on the blue field. Over time, more states joined the Union resulting in the current flag design with 50 stars representing the states and 13 stripes honoring the original colonies.

The adoption of the national flag occurred on June 14th, 1777. However, Flag Day did not gain recognition until Bernard J. Cigrand, a schoolteacher, promoted June 14th as Flag Birthday. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation supporting Flag Day, but it wasn’t until 1949 Flag Day was established as a national holiday under President Harry S. Truman.

This Week in the 53rd District

Tom Bennett

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