Durbin Sees American Jobs Act Assisting Decatur, Illinois
By Ellen Cannon
Senator Dick Durbin views infrastructure modernization as critical to employment prospects for Decatur, Illinois. Currently Illinois’s unemployment rate is at 10 percent, higher than the national 9.1 percent. According to Senator Durbin, should the school modernization portion of the “American Jobs Act” pass it would result in $1.1 billion in funds to modernize Illinois schools and result in as many as 145,000 jobs. Speaking at Johns Hill Magnet School in Decatur, Senator Durbin emphasized that Decatur’s public schools were in need of multiple forms of physical modernization including air conditioning and security systems.
After the failure of the “American Jobs Act “ to win passage, Senator Durbin supported an effort to pass individual portions of the bill that could potentially assist the unemployed throughout the U.S. and Illinois. He is highly supportive of modernization of transportation systems, infrastructures development, and school plant modernization as a vehicle toward economic investment, job creation, the growth of small businesses and the further development of Illinois tourism.
Senator Durbin focused on addressing the difficulty that Decatur had in funding costly repairs to schools. Speaking at Johns Hill Magnet School he said, the school “lacked proper post –Columbine” security measures, does not meet modern accessibility standards, as their school has many stairways but no elevators, and is challenged by asbestos-containing heating pipes, floor and ceiling tiles which poses a danger to students and staff if not managed properly and adds substantial time and expense to many small repairs. The school also lacks air conditioning, which resulted in temperatures rising to over 100 degrees or higher in some classrooms during the early weeks of the school year. Approximately 70 percent of schools in the Decatur public schools system lack air conditioning and rely on heating systems nearly two decades beyond their expected lifetime.”
The legislation, according to Senator Durbin, will be fully paid for by income surtax on millionaires and billionaires.
The latest economic data from the U.S. Bureau of Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDEA) reveal that the pace of economic recovery continues to be slow nationally and in Illinois. Although 1,600 new jobs were added by the end of September, consumer confidence, essential for recovery remains low both nationwide and in Illinois.
According to Jay Rowell, Director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security, “Consumer confidence drives the national economy and affects our economic growth here in Illinois, so these are not surprising figures. Job growth at this stage in the economic cycle is often accompanied by as slight increase in the unemployment rate. But a broader confidence must be restored at the national level before individual states will show greater wide-spread growth.”
Although Illinois has added 37,000 jobs in 2011, unemployed individuals increased in September, 2011 by 10,500 totaling 663,000 unemployed in the state. According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the leading growth sectors of the Illinois economy in 2011 are professional and Business Services (+40,000); Educational and Health Services (+32,700); manufacturing (+17,500); Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+16,800). (Idea.illinois.gov. 10/21/2011)