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Normal to allow residents to test drive a Recycling Cart
Capitol Commentary from Sen. Bill
Even with overwhelming majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly Governor Pat Quinn, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and Senate President John Cullerton were unable to negotiate a compromise on pension reform during the spring legislative session, and after downgrades from two of the nation’s top rating agencies the Governor has called a June 19 special session.
Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) had been calling for a special session to address pension reform since the legislature adjourned on May 31. Quinn announced the June 19 session just minutes after Moody’s Investor Services became the second major credit rating agency to downgrade Illinois during the week.
Quinn called the legislature back to Springfield in an attempt to shift responsibility for inaction on pensions to legislators, despite his own lack of input and failure to advance any reform plan of his own.
Pension reform collapsed in the final days of the legislative session, when the Senate rejected changes pushed by House Speaker Michael Madigan and Madigan refused to allow a vote on a bill pushed by Senate President John Cullerton.
FITCH, MOODY’S DOWNGRADE ILLINOIS
Early in the week Fitch Ratings lowered its rating on Illinois’ outstanding general obligations bonds from “A” to “A-“ with a negative outlook. The negative outlook means that further reductions could be in Illinois’ future without action to reduce the state’s overwhelming pension burden. Moody’s Investors Services followed suit on June 6 dropping their rating from A2 to A3 and also keeping a “negative watch.”
“These ratings shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone,” said Sen. Brady. “We’ve been warned for months that downgrades were imminent if we failed to act on pension reform. The majority party in Springfield spent all of the spring session procrastinating and as a result we adjourned without meaningful reform. These downgrades are the consequences of inaction.”
Fitch Ratings described the state’s long-term pension liabilities as “very high,” with the report stating the credit drop was a result of “The ongoing inability of the state to address its large and growing unfunded pension liability.” The report noted the unfunded pension liabilities and expenses are “unsustainable” and said that, “…failure to achieve reform measures (last week), despite the substantial focus on this topic, exacerbates concern about management’s willingness and ability to address the state’s numerous fiscal challenges.”
Moody’s described Illinois as being in “political paralysis” and said that, “An A3 rating, while very low for a US state, is consistent with the General Assembly’s inability to steer the state from a path to fiscal distress.”
Illinois now has the lowest general obligation bond rating of any of the 50 states. Though California also has an “A-” rating, it has a “stable” outlook. Illinois’ “negative” outlook means the Land of Lincoln is at the very bottom of all state credit ratings. Illinois has seen its credit rating downgraded a record 13 times under Quinn
Audubon Society to present Programs about the Environment
Alan Look Photography - Bloomington - Normal's Best Look in Sports Action
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Sugar Grove Nature Center Happenings
Sugar Grove Nature Center is located in beautiful, historic Funks Grove, just south of Bloomington-Normal. For a map and directions to the Nature Center, membership and program information visit us on-line at
Check into a Hotel of Hilarity at Conklin’s
Conklin’s Barn II Dinner Theatre in Goodfield is thrilled to announce the opening of the outrageously hilarious comedy “Out of Order” by master farce-writer Ray Cooney starring Barn favorite Bob Lane, Jr. and opening Thursday, April 18 and playing through June 7.
“Out of Order,” from the author of such hits as “Run for Your Wife” and “Funny Money,” is a wild and wacky ride through the Cooney universe with the misadventures of U.S. Senator Richard Willey, who has checked in to the Capitol Hill Hotel for a tryst with Senate secretary Jane Worthington. When they find a dead body on the ledge outside their window, things rapidly fall to pieces. Senator Willey calls in his meek assistant George Pigden to help deal with the body and still keep his attempted affair a secret from his own wife, the hotel staff and Jane’s irate husband!
Heading up the company for this crazy show will be funny man and farce veteran Bob Lane, Jr. as Senator Willey. His suspicious wife, Pamela is played by director Mary Simon, with Fred Heskett as George Pigden. Also running in and out of the hotel suite and causing a myriad of comical complications are April Wyant as Jane, Dan Challacombe as the hotel waiter, Nathan Bottorff as the hotel manager, John Johnson as the body, Pat Gaik as Jane’s husband Ronnie, Maria Lane as Gladys, and Diann Thompson as the hotel maid.
The production is directed by Mary Simon, set design is by April Wyant, and publicity is by Pat Gaik. Conklin’s Barn II is known for its delicious buffet which, on evening performances, includes four main entrees featuring the Barn’s renowned prime rib and fried chicken, with salad, homemade soup and cheese spread, and a choice of four taste-tempting, homemade desserts. Prices for dinner and show are $33.00 on Thursday evening, $35.00 on Friday evening and Sunday brunch, and $37.00 on Saturday evening, including tax. No advance payment is required. Conklin’s is also BYOB for wine, beer or cocktails. Glasses, ice and ice buckets are provided at no extra charge. For reservations, call the box office at 309-965-2545. For more information, visit the Barn on the internet at www.barn2.com.
AUDITIONS for the female version of Neil Simon’s comedy “The Odd Couple” starring Lana Warner and Mary Simon, requiring four additional women and two men over 21 will be held on Tuesday April 30 at 6:30 PM at the Barn in Goodfield. Production dates are July 18 to August 25. Scripts and further information are available from the box office (309) 965-2545.
Ewing Manor tours change to Mondays
The Manor at the Ewing Cultural Center will open for free public tours from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays beginning May 6. Tours will run from May through October.
Davis Ewing’s study on the third floor has been restored and will be part of the tour. Later in the summer, the stable will be open. Artifacts from the Ewing’s 1924-1925 world tour also will be on display.
Self-guided tours of the gardens are available, with recorded information on several stops provided through a cell phone.
Although there is no charge for the tours, donations are accepted. Reservations are required for groups of eight or more. Tours for groups may be arranged on other days, pending availability of the facility.
Built in the late 1920s by Hazle Buck Ewing and her husband Davis, the Channel-Norman-style residence was home to many of Ewing’s efforts to support the causes of education, women’s suffrage and world peace. Donated to the Illinois State University Foundation upon her death, the Ewing Cultural Center is now home to the Illinois Shakespeare Festival and Genevieve Green Gardens.
For more information, contact Toni Tucker at (309) 829-6333, or go online to ewingmanor.illinois
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