Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Friday the state and county governments have committed to making $16 million in infrastructure improvements in the south suburbs of Cook County.
The funding comes through the Illinois Jobs Now program, specifically $10 million from the county and $6.1 million from the state. The improvements include adding 70 miles of new fiber optic cable that will bring high-speed internet to libraries, hospitals, and schools in the suburbs of Calumet Park, Dixmoor, Harvey, Markham, Riverdale and Robbins. Additionally, the project is expected to create at least 150 new temporary and permanent jobs. With this major announcement, here are some facts about the Illinois Jobs Now program:
* The program was signed into law on July 13, 2009, by Gov. Quinn as a way to help revive the state's economy and create and retain over 439,000 jobs over the next six years.
* Illinois Jobs Now focuses on numerous infrastructure improvements across the state.
* Over all, the program will invest $31 billion into the Illinois economy and access an additional $3.7 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.
* In January, an Illinois appeals court ruled the Illinois Jobs Now program was in violation of the single-subject clause of the state's constitution, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
* The ruling also had blocked the state from using revenue generated by higher liquor taxes, privatizing the state lottery, and putting levies on video poker operations in the state.
* Following the appeals court's ruling, Gov. Quinn vowed to appeal the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court.
* According to Bloomberg, in July the state Supreme Court upheld the legality of the program, ruling that it did not violate any state constitutional requirements.
* In April, the governor announced Illinois was planning to repair over 3,200 miles of roads and replace or perform maintenance on 611 bridges, creating about 155,000 jobs, across the state under the Illinois Jobs Now program, reported CBS Local.
* Yahoo! News also reported that on Sept. 30, Illinois decided to create the $1.6 million Urban Weatherization Initiative under the program as a way to create green jobs, increase energy efficiency, and reduce the costs of energy use in homes and other buildings.
* Under the UWI, the City of Rockford, Southwestern Illinois College, the Albany Park Community Center, and the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association would each receive grants to create their own green jobs training programs.
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. As a college student from the Chicago suburbs pursuing two science degrees, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.