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January
2006


January 31, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES $240,000 IN FUNDING TO ADDRESS CRITICAL SHORTAGE OF MANUFACTURING WORKERS IN SOUTHERN ILLINOIS
Training Program Will Prepare 120 New Workers to Enter the Local Manufacturing Industry
CHICAGO – Continuing his efforts to ensure that the employers throughout Illinois have the workforce they need both today and in the future, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today provided $240,000 in Opportunity Returns funding to help meet projected shortages in the manufacturing and transportation and logistics sectors in Southern Illinois. Over the next five years, the Southern region is expected to face annual shortages in these key sectors, which, if left unfilled, will present major challenges to the region’s economic vitality. The Governor’s Critical Skills Shortage Initiative is designed to address this challenge head-on by placing business and labor leaders together with other local stakeholders to craft strategic regional solutions that ensure a pipeline of skilled workers. As a result of this investment, an additional 120 workers will be trained to enter the local workforce in these sectors.


January 30, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich introduces mine safety legislation
Bill would require additional safety precautions to protect miners
SPRINGFIELD – In the wake of tragic West Virginia mine accidents that killed 14 miners in January, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today proposed legislation that would require additional safety precautions to protect Illinois miners. The new proposals include measures that would aid both rescuers and miners in escaping if an accident occurred.


January 26, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich recognized by Families USA for outstanding commitment to healthcare; Speaks to national health conference about landmark All Kids insurance program
WASHINGTON, DC – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today received the Villers Award for Pioneering Achievement in Children’s Health Care from Families USA, an independent national health advocacy organization. With more than 700 healthcare advocates from around the country in attendance at the Health Action 2006 Annual Grassroots Conference hosted by Families USA, the Governor spoke about his pioneering All Kids health insurance program, which makes Illinois the first state in the nation to provide access to affordable, comprehensive health care coverage for every child in the state.


January 26, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich launches Keep Warm Illinois Spanish language website
Website includes important energy saving tips to help Spanish speaking families decrease their utility costs
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today launched the new Keep Warm Illinois Spanish language website to help families more easily learn ways they can decrease on the costs of the utility bills during cold winter months. The website mirrors its English counterpart, offering information the comprehensive Keep Warm Illinois campaign’s various no-cost and low-cost energy saving tips, a web-based tool to conduct a home energy audit, links to energy assistance programs and other resources. The Keep Warm Illinois hotline (1-877-411-WARM) continues to be available as another resource for Illinois’ Spanish- speaking residents to learn how to save energy and receive energy assistance.


January 24, 2006
Governor Blagojevich thanks Richard Norton Smith for leading the opening of world class Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Complex
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Executive Director to leave post
SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today thanked Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Director Richard Norton Smith for leading the world-class complex through its inaugural year. Smith today announced his resignation to accept an academic opportunity at George Mason University in Virginia. Smith joined the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in November of 2003. Illinois State Historian, Tom Schwartz, will serve as interim director, as a nationwide search begins for a permanent director.


January 22, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich rallies with parents, students and education leaders to pass his proposed $1,000 per student college tuition tax credit
Proposed $1,000 tax credit would help tens of thousands of middle and low-income working families send their children to college
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today joined parents, students and education leaders to call for passage of his proposal to help parents send their children to college. In his State of the State address on Wednesday, the Governor proposed a $1,000 tax credit for every child an Illinois family has enrolled in any college in Illinois, public or private. The tax credit applies to freshmen and sophomores who maintain a B average.


January 21, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich announces new series of statewide Keep Warm Illinois Energy Saving Workshops
Community workshops offer Illinoisans ways to reduce home energy costs
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced new Keep Warm Illinois community workshops that will be held across Illinois. At these workshops, run by Community Action Agencies, Illinois residents will receive information from energy conservation experts on how to reduce energy use and bring down their heating bills during the cold winter months.


January 20, 2006
Honoring Illinois' Fallen
United States and Illinois flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Friday, January 20, 2006
The Department of Central Management Services has received notice from Governor Blagojevich's Office to fly the United States and Illinois flags at State occupied buildings at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Friday, January 20, 2006


January 18, 2006
Governor Blagojevich lays out ambitious agenda in 2006 State of the State Address
Governor proposes key initiatives to create 230,000 jobs, help parents pay for college tuition for their children, help uninsured Veterans obtain health insurance, and help meth addicts break the cycle of crime and addiction; renews call for state assault weapons ban -- Governor highlights Illinois progress over last three years despite inheriting a record budget deficit and despite Washington, D.C. policies hostile to working people
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today delivered his 2006 State of the State Address, outlining the significant progress made over the last three years to help working families. The Governor proposed several major new initiatives to create even more jobs, improve education, increase access to healthcare and continue to lower the crime rate.


January 17, 2006
Governor Blagojevich, Mayor Daley renew call for state assault weapons ban
Governor to take strong stand against gun violence in his annual State of the State address
CHICAGO- Continuing the effort to protect Illinoisans from gun violence, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley today renewed their call to members of the Illinois General Assembly to pass a state assault weapons ban. On the day before his annual State of the State address, the Governor rallied support with Mayor Daley, legislators and advocates against gun violence, for a bill that would ban the manufacture, possession, and delivery of semiautomatic assault weapons, assault weapon attachments, large capacity ammunition feeding devices and the .50 caliber rifle. More than a year ago, leaders in Washington D.C. allowed the federal assault weapons ban to expire.


January 12, 2006
Governor Blagojevich announces emergency measure to ensure no low-income Medicare Part D beneficiary is turned away at pharmacy
Illinois is first highly populated state to provide critical protection to dual eligibles while kinks in federal program are being addressed
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that Illinois will cover the cost of prescription drugs for dual eligible citizens--those enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid--who were otherwise being turned away from pharmacy counters across the state due to glitches in the new federal Medicare Part D drug program. Adding to the ongoing efforts of the Blagojevich Administration, this new safety net will ensure seniors and persons with disabilities won’t go without the drugs they need while the federal government corrects discrepancies with enrollees’ records.


January 12, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich recognizes Illinois mine rescue crew for response in West Virginia
Governor announces additional inspectors, three new coal mines in 2006
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today recognized the seven-member mine rescue team from Illinois for their bravery and selflessness after being called to assist in the rescue efforts of 13 miners in West Virginia last week. The rescue team from Illinois is from the Viper mine near Williamsville, a subsidiary of the International Coal Group, which also owns the Sago Mine. The Governor proclaimed January 12, 2006, ‘Viper Mine Rescue Crew Day” commending the team for their sacrifice and willingness to help fellow miners.


January 11, 2006
Honoring Illinois' Fallen
United States and Illinois flags at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday, January 11, 2006
The Department of Central Management Services has receive notice from Governor Blagojevich's Office to fly the United States and Illinois flags at State occupied buildings at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday, January 11, 2006


January 11, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich Announces Record Number of Small Business Owners Won State Contracts in 2005
Value of State contracts awarded to Illinois small firms doubles in 2005; Efforts continue to foster business growth and opportunity for state entrepreneurs
CHICAGO – More Illinois small businesses received state contracts in 2005 thanks to the recent expansion of the state’s Small Business Set Aside Program, Governor Rod Blagojevich announced today. A record $16 million in set-aside contracts were awarded to Illinois small businesses last year, a full 165% increase over the 2004 total.


January 9, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES FUNDING FOR EIGERlab RESEARCH CENTER TO REVITALIZE MANUFACTURING AND FUEL ECONOMIC GROWTH IN NORTHERN STATELINE REGION
CHICAGO – Delivering on his promise to invest in advanced manufacturing and technology in the Rock River Valley, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today awarded $1.6 million in Opportunity Returns funding for the EIGERlab, a research and development center with best-in-the-world research tools to drive Illinois' manufacturing renewal and future prosperity. The investment allows EIGERlab to purchase critical equipment that will help create more than 20 new jobs and add hundreds and hundreds more down the line.


January 9, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES $2.4 MILLION IN FUNDING TO BEGIN EXPANSION OF WESTERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY’S QUAD CITIES CAMPUS
CHICAGO - Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that Western Illinois University's (WIU) Quad Cities Riverfront campus in Moline is receiving $2.4 million in Opportunity Returns planning funds for a major expansion project, allowing the school to grow into an expanded, comprehensive public university for the region.  This will more than double the number of students it serves in the Quad Cities - from 1,200 to more than 3,000.  This will also provide a major economic boost with a significant number of direct and indirect jobs created as a result of the campus expansion and other related projects.


January 9, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES $325,000 IN GRANTS TO HELP DEVELOP HIGH-TECH, HOMELAND SECURITY PRODUCTS AND CREATE 40 NEW JOBS
The Nation’s First State-Funded Grant Program Dedicated to Accelerating the Commercialization, Improvement and Production of Homeland Security Products
CHICAGO – Building on his commitment to create jobs and economic growth by making Illinois a leader of innovation and product development in the homeland security industry, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced $325,000 in grants for two growing Illinois homeland security companies. The Opportunity Returns funding, which comes from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Homeland Security Market Development bureau, will help create 40 new jobs at the two companies and continue to expand the market for an industry in which Illinois is emerging as a national leader. This funding is leveraging $1.1 million in private investment and federal grants or contracts. DCEO Director Jack Lavin made the grant announcement today with the two companies in Chicago.


January 9, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES A $500,000 WORKFORCE TRAINING GRANT TO ENHANCE THE SKILLS OF 2,200 EMPLOYEES AT CATERPILLAR SUPPLIERS ACROSS ILLINOIS
350 Illinois Companies Will Become More Efficient and Effective Through Innovative Training Program
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the awarding of a $500,000 workforce training grant to Caterpillar Inc. as a part of his pro-active, comprehensive economic development strategy designed to spur economic growth and create jobs across the North Central region and throughout Illinois. The grant is being awarded through the Employer Training Investment Program (ETIP) and will be used to upgrade the skills of 2,200 workers at hundreds of the company’s suppliers across Illinois.


January 9, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES $500,000 IN NEW FUNDING TO CONTINUE TO HELP ENTREPRENEURS GROW THEIR BUSINESSES AND CREATE MORE JOBS ACROSS WESTERN ILLINOIS
Lauds the Efforts of Western Illinois Entrepreneurship Network for Helping Spur $250 Million in Revenue Growth and 540 New Jobs at Local Companies Through Its Services
CHICAGO - Continuing to deliver on his promise to promote entrepreneurship and innovation, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced that the Western Illinois Entrepreneurship Center Network is receiving $500,000 in new funding, along with grant awards that totaled $60,000 from the Western Illinois Entrepreneurship Center in Macomb to local entrepreneurs to assist with their promising ventures and help develop them into marketplace success.


January 9, 2006
GOV. BLAGOJEVICH ANNOUNCES $5 MILLION INVESTMENT FOR NEW COAL GASIFICATION PROJECT AT TAYLORVILLE ENERGY CENTER
Cutting-Edge Development Would Create Several Hundred Permanent Jobs
CHICAGO - Furthering his pledge to revitalize the Illinois coal industry and create hundreds of more jobs for working families, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced $5 million in public-private support for the $1.1 billion Taylorville Energy Center, where Illinois coal from a new nearby mine will be converted through clean coal technology to a synthetic gas that can be sold or burned to generate electric power.


January 9, 2006
Illinois Launches Nation’s First Lottery Ticket to Support the Fight Against Breast Cancer
Top political figures, department heads, breast cancer survivors, and community leaders join to show support for cause at ticket unveiling
CHICAGO – Continuing her ongoing efforts to promote breast cancer awareness in Illinois, First Lady Patti Blagojevich on Monday joined Senate President Emil Jones, Senator Mattie Hunter, Illinois Lottery Superintendent Carolyn Adams, and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Eric Whitaker to unveil a new Illinois Lottery game called Ticket for the Cure - the nation’s first lottery ticket dedicated to helping fund breast cancer early detection, education, research, and patient services throughout the state. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women 20 years of age and older, with an estimated 9,000 women expected to be diagnosed in Illinois this year. In July, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich signed legislation initiated by Senate President Jones and Senator Mattie Hunter that created the Ticket for the Cure.


January 9, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich appoints Charles Box, former Rockford mayor as head of the Illinois Commerce Commission
CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today appointed former Rockford Mayor Charles E. Box as chair of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), the state body responsible for regulating utilities and ensuring the citizens of Illinois safe, efficient, reliable, and uninterrupted utility services at reasonable prices.


January 9, 2006
Governor Blagojevich orders statewide water supply study
Governor issues executive order to study state’s water needs to protect against shortages and develop regional plans
SPRINGFIELD – Following last summer’s long and costly drought, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today issued an Executive Order to develop a comprehensive, statewide water supply planning and management strategy. The Department of Natural Resources Office of Water Resources will oversee the process in conjunction with the State Water Survey (SWS).


January 8, 2006
Governor Blagojevich announces $150,000 grant to install video cameras in Chicago Police Department squad cars
30 additional squad cars will receive video cameras as a part of pilot program
CHICAGO – At the House of Hope on Chicago’s Southside, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a $150,000 grant that will help the Chicago Police Department (CPD) expand a pilot program to install video cameras in police squad cars. The state grant, in addition to a matching $50,000 grant from the City of Chicago, will allow CPD to purchase and install 30 video cameras in squad cars. The video cameras are an important step to help to strengthen public safety and promote accountability and trust between law enforcement and the community it serves.


January 6, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich proposes legislation to prevent the unauthorized sale or release of phone records or other private information
Part of comprehensive campaign to stop identity theft
CHICAGO – In his ongoing effort to protect people throughout Illinois from a growing form of identity theft, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced today a series of proposals to crackdown on the unauthorized release or sale of phone records and other private information by brokers and phone companies. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Illinois would become the first state in the nation to fight “pretexting,” which is pretending to be the account holder, or have authorization to access an account, to obtain cell phone records, long distance call records and other personal records, such as GM OnStar information.


January 6, 2006
First Lady Patti Blagojevich and Miss Illinois team up to prevent child abduction and exploitation
Nationally recognized Child Lures prevention program will be in use in Illinois’ 3,200 elementary and middle schools starting this month
DES PLAINES – First Lady Patti Blagojevich today teamed up with Miss Illinois 2005 Lauren Allen to teach important safety lessons from the Child Lures prevention program to 6th grade students at Algonquin Middle School in Des Plaines. Earlier this week, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced that Illinois’ 3,200 elementary and middle schools are now receiving Child Lures prevention program materials to be used starting this month. The Governor launched the Child Lures prevention program -- a nationally recognized initiative that teaches children, parents and school officials to recognize potential danger signs and make smart decisions to avoid child predators – last fall during a child safety Town Hall Meeting sponsored by NBC 5 Chicago. Illinois is the first state to implement the program in schools on a statewide level.


January 5, 2006
Tollway opens fourth lane on key section of Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88); wider road will reduce congestion and provide faster commute for motorists
Rebuild and widen project from IL Route 59 to Washington Street is almost complete
NAPERVILLE – Building on his commitment to significantly reduce travel times and improve driving conditions for motorists using the state’s roads, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the opening of an additional lane in the now rebuilt segment of road previously known as the “washboard” on the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) from IL Route 59 to Washington Street, in Chicago’s western suburbs. This 5-mile segment now provides a faster and smoother ride for 140,000 daily motorists. This two-year, rebuild and widen project was completed on time and on budget and is now providing four new lanes in each direction.


January 5, 2006
First Lady and Illinois Poet Laureate encourage young authors to participate in statewide writing contest
SPRINGFIELD – First Lady Patti Blagojevich and Kevin Stein, Illinois’ poet laureate, today encouraged 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. Entries must be postmarked by January 31, 2006. This is the second year the First Lady has partnered with IATE to promote the competition.


January 5, 2006
Governor Blagojevich proposes aggressive mercury emission controls for Illinois power plants
New rules boost public health by cutting toxins that cause nervous system disorders in infants and children; Rules require 90 percent mercury reduction by 2009, compared to 47 percent requirement under new federal rules
CHICAGO –Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today unveiled a proposal that would cut mercury emissions from power plants by 90 percent by June 30, 2009. The state standards will reduce toxic mercury emissions faster and more thoroughly than new federal restrictions adopted last spring and will achieve the largest overall amount of mercury reduction of any state in the country. The rule will be submitted to the Illinois Pollution Control Board in February.


January 3, 2006
Gov. Blagojevich announces more Keep Warm Illinois Home Energy Workshops to be held at community colleges statewide
Illinois residents invited to learn important tips to conserve energy and weatherize their homes this winter
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today urged Illinois residents to participate in the upcoming Keep Warm Illinois workshops scheduled at community colleges across Illinois. With record natural gas prices anticipated for this winter’s heating season, Illinois households will face significantly higher utility bills, with costs up to 70 percent higher than last winter. While every family in Illinois will be affected, higher home heating costs will create a particular hardship for senior citizens and families already struggling to get by. These workshops will educate Illinoisans about do-it-yourself energy-saving strategies to help reduce the cost of this winter’s heating bills through conservation and weatherization techniques. People can now also call the Keep Warm Illinois hotline, 1-877-411-WARM, for information about energy conservation, energy assistance or to find a home energy savings workshop near them. The hotline is available Monday – Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm.


January 3, 2006
Child Lures prevention program materials arriving in Illinois’ 3,200 elementary and middle schools now; Program intended to prevent child abduction and exploitation
Nationally recognized prevention program will be in use in Illinois schools when students return from holiday break
SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that Illinois schools are now receiving Child Lures prevention program materials to be used after the first of the year. The Governor launched the Child Lures prevention program in September - a nationally recognized initiative that teaches children, parents and school officials to recognize potential danger signs and make smart decisions to avoid child predators. Illinois is the first state to implement the program in schools on a statewide level.

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