Lots of Good News to Share!
In This Issue:
Credit Rating Upgrades
College Savings with Illinois Treasurer
Borrow a Museum Pass
Child Tax Credit Payments
July Coffee & Conversation
Dear Friends, The spring legislative session may be over, but that just means we’ve had more time to get into the community, talking with neighbors, businesses, and residents about the issues affecting them the most. Combined with our recently held Citizen Advisory Panels, we’re forming a legislative agenda for next year that aims to truly reflect our district’s values and priorities. You’ll get a peak at some of that work, below, plus the many events and offerings available to our community. We’d love to hear about what you think and what else we should be working on. Please never hesitate to contact us or to join any or all of our upcoming events. Sincerely, Janet
Credit Rating Upgrades
One of the most frequent things I hear when talking with resident is concern about our state’s finances. While there’s always more we need to do, the good news is we have made positive and meaningful steps in the right direction. The industry’s three main credit rating agencies agree: In the last month, both Moody’s and S&P have upgraded Illinois' credit ratings, while the third, Fitch, has upgraded the state’s credit outlook. Higher credit ratings will result in lower interest rates and opportunities to refinance our debt, saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars that will carry on long into the future. The three agencies cited a responsibly balanced budget, lower bill back logs, and sound economic policy in justifying the ratings improvements. It’s important to note that federal money sent to the state was not used to balance the budget. Of the $8.127 billion in federal aid for Illinois’ government, $1 billion is going to one-time capital projects (including appropriations for Naper Settlement and 12 of the public schools in our district) and $1.8 billion will go to one-time grants or temporary aid programs allowed by the federal government. We’re holding the remaining $5.3 billion in reserve, taking our time to determine where it can be most effectively used.
College Savings with Illinois Treasurer Illinois' Bright Start 529 College Savings Plan is one of only three 529 plans in the nation rated Gold by Morningstar. This is what one of my Morningstar colleagues wrote about our state’s plan: “The Illinois Bright Start Direct-Sold College Savings Program boasts an impressive fund lineup, strong plan oversight, and competitive fees. It remains a top choice for college savers and retains its Morningstar Analyst Rating of Gold." Please join me in a conversation with Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs and Morningstar’s lead 529 researcher, Madeline Hume, on August 10 at 6 pm to learn more about what makes this plan so special.
Intern Projects! Our inaugural class of summer interns has been hard at work reaching out to the community and researching a number of legislative ideas and other projects for our district. (The picture of them below shows them in the midst of our orientation and team building day.) Some of the projects they’re working on include:
Legislative research on topics such as emergency room insurance coverage, election day judges, and better meeting the educational need of those with dyslexia.
Event coordination and partnerships to provide the community with document shred days, gun lock giveaways, and self-defense classes.
They’re also fanning out throughout our district to let people know about all the events and resources available to our community--feel free to chat them up and let them know what’s on your mind.
Borrow a Museum Pass We have a wonderful opportunity to offer residents in our district complimentary visits to the below world-class museums, zoos, and parks:
The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago Academy of Sciences/ Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Chicago Botanic Garden
Chicago Children’s Museum
Chicago History Museum
DuSable Museum of African American History
The Field Museum
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center
Lincoln Park Zoo
Museum of Contemporary Art
Museum of Science and Industry
National Museum of Mexican Art
National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture
John G. Shedd Aquarium
Reserve our district's pass, which can be used for the holder plus three guests, by contacting our office and providing your name, address, and requested dates. The pass is available on a first-come, first-serve basis and must be picked-up and returned to our district office. Once we have your request, we will contact you to arrange a time to pick up the pass and accompanying authorization of use letter.
Child Tax Credit Payments As part of a key component of the American Rescue Plan, eligible families should have begun receiving Child Tax Credit deposits or checks as early as this past Thursday (July 15). These monthly payments of $250 to $300 per child will be automatically made to nearly all working families. However, low-income families—particularly those who may have had such low incomes that they are not required to file taxes—will need to sign up for the benefit via childtaxcredit.gov.
July Coffee & Conversation
We gather on the last Saturday of each month to chat about all the issues and opportunities on the minds of community members. We’d love for you to join us on July 31 at 10 am, where we’ll hold our first in-person coffee at our district office.