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Simon continues efforts aimed at assisting military families in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Continuing her efforts to assist military families in Illinois, Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon on Wednesday released the recommendations and findings of a defense community survey that aims to help retain and strengthen military bases in Illinois. With military communities in jeopardy, Simon also called on the U.S. Congress to work quickly to come to a debt ceiling agreement before potentially devastating cuts take place.

“These survey findings and recommendations provide a helpful blueprint to better serve our Illinois military families,” said Simon. “I am eager to work with the Governor and General Assembly to implement this survey’s recommendations, and Congress can do their job and come to an agreement to avoid further disrupting military pay.”

Simon chairs the state’s Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC) which reviewed the survey findings and recommendations at its quarterly meeting on Wednesday in Springfield. The recommendations included:

· Developing an economic impact study to measure the various benefits military bases have on the community and state;

· Helping ease the transfer of credits between school districts in Illinois and other states for the children of military personnel;

· Developing a methodology to improve the transfer of professional licenses across state lines; and

· Continue developing processes to award credentials for training received in the military.

Over the summer, Simon’s office convened listening posts in Metro East, Quad Cities and North Chicago, all of which are home to military installations and that are dealing with the economic impact of sequestration, federal government shutdown and the possibility of future cuts. A statewide online survey followed in the fall. The survey and listening posts were administered for the IMBSEDC in partnership with the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA). More than 750 participants answered questions pertaining to business opportunities, education, workforce training and quality of life.

The IMBSEDC coordinates the state’s activities and communications relating to current and former military bases in Illinois. The committee was established in 2005 in response to U.S. Department of Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) orders to close and realign military bases nationwide.

Simon is calling on the federal government to come to an agreement regarding the debt ceiling before it has a negative impact on military families in Illinois and across the country. In a January letter to Congress, former-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner noted that benefits like military pay and social security could be at risk without the extension of borrowing authority.

“Military paychecks should not by jeopardized by the dysfunction in Washington, D.C.,” said Simon. “With a Thursday deadline fast approaching, I sincerely hope an agreement is reached quickly. The consequences of doing nothing could be devastating.”

Following the IMBSEDC meeting, Simon will chair a Governor’s Rural Affairs Council (GRAC) meeting. The 25-member council will discuss proposals to boost access to local foods, promote small businesses, strengthen emergency services and assist rural school districts.

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