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January
2005


January 31, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces thousands of calling cards going to troops
Phone cards will help deployed Illinois soldiers keep in touch with family, friends back home
SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced that the state, through a partnership with SBC Midwest, is providing more than 4,000 calling cards to deploying and deployed members of the Illinois National Guard serving the nation in the Global War on Terror. Brig. Gen. Randal E. Thomas, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, began distributing the phone cards to Army Guard Commanders attending the Illinois National Guard Warrior Summit in Bloomington. In the coming weeks, the cards will be distributed to guard units deployed or preparing to deploy in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Currently, 3,500 Illinois men and women are mobilized.


January 31, 2005
First Lady Patti Blagojevich celebrates opening of the new University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital
State capital investment of $14 million helps establish state-of-the-art, family-oriented environment for all pediatric services at the University of Chicago Hospitals.
CHICAGO- First Lady Patti Blagojevich today joined elected officials and University of Chicago board members to participate in the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital ribbon cutting ceremony. The State of Illinois provided a capital investment of $14 million to the hospital. The facility will be more than twice the size of the University of Chicago children’s hospital that it is replacing, and will house all inpatient children’s health services offered by the University of Chicago Hospitals. The hospital, which opens to patients in mid-February, will specialize in nationally recognized cardiology, neurology, neonatology, and transplantation programs.


January 29, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces thousands of calling cards going to troops
Phone cards will help deployed Illinois soldiers keep in touch with family, friends back home
SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced that the state, through a partnership with SBC Midwest, is providing more than 4,000 calling cards to deploying and deployed members of the Illinois National Guard serving the nation in the Global War on Terror. Brig. Gen. Randal E. Thomas, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, began distributing the phone cards to Army Guard Commanders attending the Illinois National Guard Warrior Summit in Bloomington. In the coming weeks, the cards will be distributed to guard units deployed or preparing to deploy in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Currently, 3,500 Illinois men and women are mobilized.


January 28, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich calls on FDA to improve responsiveness, work with states to avoid future shortages and crises
Governor blasts FDA’s failure to respond to four-month old request for approval of foreign flu vaccine
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration’s Commissioner Lester Crawford blasting his agency for failing to respond for more than four months while Illinois, New Mexico, New York City and Cleveland waited for approval to import flu vaccine from Europe to address the severe shortage in the United States.


January 27, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich calls on State Board of Education to continue funding for dropout programs
More than 400 youth could lose services if funding isn’t continued
SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Rod Blagojevich today called on the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to renew funding for ten educational programs that serve more than 400 high school dropouts. The consortium of providers, which received grants from the State Board for almost two decades, lost its funding for Fiscal Year 2005 when the former State Board failed to renew its grant.


January 27, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich applauds this year’s successful Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe holiday campaign
Over 47,000 items donated to 117 charities across the state
CHICAGO – Gov. Blagojevich today applauded the impressive number of donations to this year’s Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe holiday campaign. In total, state employees, private citizens and corporate sponsors gave 47,676 items to this year’s campaign. This year also marked the first time state agencies competed to see who could generate the most donations. The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) was this year’s winner, donating 2.4 gifts per person. The governor launched this winter’s Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe campaign at the December 1st holiday tree lighting in the Thompson Center.


January 25, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES A $1.3 MILLION OPPORTUNITY RETURNS INVESTMENT IN BP’S OLEFINS AND DERIVATIVES UNIT TO LOCATE HEADQUARTERS AND 340 JOBS IN THE CHICAGOLAND AREA
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced the awarding of a package of Opportunity Returns grants totaling more than $1.3 million to BP’s olefins and derivatives (O&D) unit, which it expects to sell in an IPO later this year. This Opportunity Returns support was an important factor behind the new company’s decision to base 340 jobs in the Chicagoland area. The new company’s headquarters, which will house approximately 125 staff, will be based in downtown Chicago at the Aon Center, while an additional 215 employees will be based in DuPage County.


January 24, 2005
Governor announces sweeping reform and renewal of housing policy
Housing Task Force plan provides for unprecedented, coordinated government spending that will benefit at-need groups
CHICAGO– Governor Rod Blagojevich today announced a sweeping reform of the state’s housing policy, that will for the first time allow a comprehensive coordination of efforts to better distribute more than $600 million in annual state spending that will benefit over 115,000 people in Illinois.


January 21, 2005
Governor signs landmark human rights legislation
Illinois outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation
CHICAGO – Governor Rod Blagojevich was joined by his wife Patti, lawmakers and human rights activists today as he signed Senate Bill 3186, landmark legislation that protects Illinoisans from discrimination based on sexual orientation. With his signature, Illinois became the 15th state in the nation to extend equal protection for its gay and lesbian citizens.


January 20, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH VISITS SUCCESSFUL SOUTHERN ILLINOIS MANUFACTURER THAT IS EXPANDING AND CREATING JOBS
Highlights economic recovery throughout Illinois with 48,300 new jobs added in 2004, unemployment rate drops to lowest level since October 2001
WILLIAMSON COUNTY – As the Illinois economy continues to show impressive gains, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today visited the rapidly developing manufacturing campus where Aisin Holdings of America is expanding its Illinois operations and heralded the company’s efforts in bringing approximately 480 new jobs to Southern Illinois. This is just one example of how economic recovery is taking shape throughout the state. In 2004, according to figures released today by the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Illinois added 48,300 new jobs, which is the highest annual gain since 1999. The December seasonally adjusted Illinois unemployment rate was 5.8 percent, the lowest rate since October 2001. In 2004, the unemployment rate had its largest one-year drop since 1998 – from 6.3 to 5.8 percent.


January 20, 2005
Governor Blagojevich offers assistance and support to help Connecticut set up prescription drug importation program
CHICAGO- Today, Governor Rod Blagojevich announced his full support of Connecticut lawmakers’ effort to help their citizens import safe, affordable prescription drugs from Canada and Europe and offered to help in any way possible. Connecticut’s proposed plan is similar to Governor Blagojevich’s I-Save Rx program, which was the first state sponsored program in the nation to allow residents to import prescription drugs from state inspected and approved suppliers in Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.


January 18, 2005
First Lady and Illinois Poet Laureate encourage young authors to participate in statewide writing contest
First Lady Patti Blagojevich to host awards banquet
SPRINGFIELD – First Lady Patti Blagojevich and Kevin Stein, poet laureate for the State of Illinois, today reminded Illinois students to submit their original work to the Illinois Association of Teachers of English (IATE) Best Illinois Poetry and Prose Contest. The contest is open to students from 6th through 12th grades. This is the first year the State has partnered with IATE to promote the competition.


January 17, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich honors Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by unveiling plans to expand opportunities for minority-owned businesses
Releases report showing progress in narrowing disparities in Illinois, commits state resources to close the gaps
CHICAGO – Speaking at events honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday Monday, Gov. Rod Blagojevich said a report he commissioned to identify major issues of disparities in Illinois shows the state is taking steps to improve the quality of life for all its citizens. In addition, the Governor introduced new initiatives that will further close the gap for minority business owners.


January 14, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES OPPORTUNITY RETURNS GRANTS TO HELP STRENGTHEN TECHNOLOGY LITERACY ACROSS WEST CENTRAL REGION
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced today the awarding of two technology grants as part of his Opportunity Returns plan for job creation in the West Central region. These grants, part of the Eliminate the Digital Divide program, fund technology centers in low-income communities in order to provide technology skills training and access to computers and the Internet. This program provides the critical skills that employees will need to succeed in today’s high-tech workplace.


January 14, 2005
Governor Blagojevich Launches Contraceptive Coverage Awareness Campaign
Aggressive awareness campaign to inform women that contraceptives are now covered by private insurance in Illinois
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today launched the Contraceptive Coverage Awareness Campaign—a coordinated effort to inform women that private insurance plans that cover outpatient drugs or services are now required to cover all FDA approved contraceptive services and prescriptions. The Governor joined actress Wendie Malick and other supporters at Planned Parenthood’s administrative office in Chicago today to kick off the campaign.


January 13, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES OPPORTUNITY RETURNS GRANTS TO ELIMINATE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE IN SOUTHWEST ILLINOIS
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced today almost $115,000 in technology grants as part of his Opportunity Returns plan for job creation in Southwest Illinois. These grants, from the Eliminate the Digital Divide program, fund technology centers in low-income communities to provide technology skills, training and access to computers and the Internet. This program provides critical skills training that employees need to succeed in today's high-tech workplace.


January 13, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES ENTERPRISE ZONE EXPANSION TO SPUR ECONOMIC GROWTH AND JOB CREATION IN STEPHENSON COUNTY
CHICAGO – In an aggressive move to stimulate widespread business growth and job creation in the Northern Stateline region, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced the boundary expansion of the Freeport/Stephenson County Enterprise Zone. The expansion of the enterprise zone, which lends critical income and job creation tax credits to companies located within its borders, will trigger new development or expansion projects for at least two businesses on the outskirts of the current zone boundaries and will create 64 new jobs, retain 56 jobs and spark nearly $2.2 million in investment.


January 13, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES OPPORTUNITY RETURNS GRANTS TO HELP STRENGTHEN TECHNOLOGY LITERACY ACROSS WEST CENTRAL REGION
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced today the awarding of two technology grants as part of his Opportunity Returns plan for job creation in the West Central region. These grants, part of the Eliminate the Digital Divide program, fund technology centers in low-income communities in order to provide technology skills training and access to computers and the Internet. This program provides the critical skills that employees will need to succeed in today’s high-tech workplace.


January 13, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces training sessions to help make schools safer for students and staff
School Security Pilot Program conducts first training session
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today launched a pilot program to provide Illinois school officials with the skills they need to protect students and staff during all types of emergency situations. Representatives from seven school districts participated in the program’s first training session today held in Springfield.


January 13, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich recognizes improved child abduction response on AMBER Alert anniversary
System-wide AMBER Alert improvements resulted in twelve child recoveries
CHICAGO – On the ninth anniversary of the day when Amber Hagerman was kidnapped in Texas while riding her bicycle and brutally murdered, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today proclaimed January 13, 2005, AMBER Alert Awareness Day in Illinois and celebrated the success of Illinois’ improved AMBER Alert system. Twelve children have been recovered since Gov. Blagojevich launched significant improvements to the state’s AMBER Alert system early in his Administration. While the AMBER Alert system was established in Illinois on February 1, 2002, no child recoveries had been credited to the system prior to the improvements announced on April 24, 2003.


January 12, 2005
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES ILLINOIS MOVIE AND TELEVISION PRODUCTIONS GENERATED $77 MILLION AND ALMOST 15,000 JOBS FOR STATE ECONOMY IN 2004
Revenues Soar 200% in 2004 Thanks to the Renewal of Film Tax Incentive Legislation
CHICAGO – In another strong indication that Illinois is once again attracting a growing number of important movie and television productions, Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced today that projects filmed throughout the state generated $77 million, which is a 200 percent increase in just one year, and created nearly 15,000 jobs in 2004. Several major motion pictures were filmed throughout the state including The Weather Man (Paramount), Ice Harvest (Universal), Oceans 12 and the latest Batman film (Warner Brothers), Derailed (Miramax) and Roll Bounce (20th Century Fox), as well as several other independent film and television projects.


January 11, 2005
Governor Blagojevich’s Top 100 Accomplishments of 2004
The following accomplishments are the top initiatives of the Blagojevich Administration. After the first 25, the accomplishments are broken down into the following categories: Creating Jobs, Improving Education, Making Healthcare Accessible and Affordable, Improving Services for Children in the State’s Care, Keeping People Safe, Homeland Security, Helping Veterans, Streamlining Government and Cutting Waste, Protecting the Environment, and Promoting Affordable Housing.


January 10, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich Orders Environmental Inspectors to Ford Heights Landfill, Threatens Shut-Down of Troubled Landfill if Illegal Dumping Is Still Taking Place
Blagojevich Administration continues new crackdown on dumps that threaten state’s environment and public health
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today dispatched Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) inspectors to the Lincoln Ltd. landfill in south suburban Ford Heights to see if the site is still accepting waste illegally despite multiple IEPA violation notices. The Governor threatened to seal the site quickly if waste is still being taken without proper permits and oversight. Today’s action is the second in the Administration’s aggressive new crackdown on illegal dumping.


January 6, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich Calls on Canadian Prime Minister Martin to Strengthen Regulations of Mail-Order Pharmacies Rather Than Cutting Off Access to Millions of Americans
Governor points to safeguards built in to the I-SaveRx prescription drug importation program
In a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich today urged the Canadian government to adopt stronger rules for on-line and mail-order pharmacies rather than banning prescription drug exports altogether. The Governor pointed to safeguards built in to Illinois’ I-SaveRx prescription drug importation program as requirements that help doctors better understand patients’ conditions and needs.


January 6, 2005
Governor Blagojevich declares 17 southern Illinois counties disaster areas for severe winter storm
State seeks federal assistance to help local governments defray expenses related to snow removal during December storms
SPRINGFIELD – Citing the financial burden caused by record snowfalls in southern Illinois just before Christmas, Governor Rod Blagojevich today declared 17 counties disaster areas and asked the federal government for financial assistance to help those counties recover.


January 5, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich announces grants to promote women’s health
SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Rod Blagojevich today awarded 26 women’s health grants totaling $100,000 for community health awareness events, many of which target specific minority groups.


January 5, 2005
Governors Blagojevich and Doyle Urge Bush Administration to Take Action on Possible Restriction of Prescription Drugs From Canada
CHICAGO- Governor Rod Blagojevich and Governor Jim Doyle (D-WI) today sent a letter to President George W. Bush urging him to use the full diplomatic influence of the United States to discourage Canada from restricting Americans from purchasing safe, affordable prescription medications. An estimated two million Americans already purchase their prescription drugs from Canada.


January 3, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich and workers celebrate full implementation of minimum wage hike
Jan. 1 increase to $6.50 an hour benefits nearly half a million hard working Illinoisans
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich was joined today by workers, lawmakers and low-income family advocates in celebrating the final phase-in of the minimum wage increase he signed into law in 2003. The new wage of $6.50 an hour that went into full effect on January 1 benefits an estimated 450,000 Illinois workers – or about 6 percent of the state’s workforce – who were making $5.15 an hour before the new law was signed.


January 3, 2005
Gov. Blagojevich proclaims January 3-7, 2005 as Days of Remembrance for the South Asian Tsunami Victims
Gov. Blagojevich joins President Bush in lowering flags at state facilities to half-staff; encourages citizens to support relief efforts
CHICAGO— In a show of respect for the victims of the South Asian tsunami, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today issued a proclamation declaring January 3-7 as Days of Remembrance for the South Asian Tsunami Victims and ordering that flags at state facilities be flown at half-staff for the remainder of this week. Earlier today, President Bush issued an Executive Proclamation ordering all federal facilities to fly their flags at half-staff to honor the victims.


January 2, 2005
Governor Blagojevich Marks One-Year Anniversary of Sheridan National Model Drug Prison & Reentry Program
National Experts Commend Program for Promising Early Results Showing Reduction in Crime & Recidivism Among Program Participants
On the one-year anniversary of the Sheridan National Model Drug Prison & Reentry program, Governor Rod Blagojevich today released results of an early evaluation of the program showing success in reducing crime and recidivism by as much as 66 percent. While noting that the young program – which is targeted to become the nation’s largest, state-run drug prison and reentry program of its kind – is still being developed, the Governor and national experts commended Sheridan for showing great promise in the fight against recidivism.

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