“I look forward to putting this distraction behind us so we can focus on other important issues in the coming weeks – like balancing the budget and ensuring the State lives within its means.” – Senator Linda Holmes

SPRINGFIELD, IL – In January, Illinois Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) made the decision to stop offering the legislative scholarship program after a series of reports came out about abuse within the program. Nearly four months later, the entire Illinois Senate followed suit as a measure to abolish the program passed out of the Senate chamber this afternoon.

House Bill 3810 would abolish the tuition waiver program and set up a task force to review and evaluate tuition and fee waiver programs offered by universities in Illinois.

“I welcome the rest of the General Assembly in the effort to eliminate fraudulent and abusive practices in our State. The time to end the troubled scholarship program has come and I am pleased that the rest of the General Assembly has finally realized that,” Senator Holmes said. “I look forward to putting this distraction behind us so we can focus on other important issues in the coming weeks – like balancing the budget and ensuring the State lives within its means.”

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“I look forward to discussing ways we can modify this vital economic development
tool so that municipalities continue to realize the benefit well into the future.” – Senator Linda Holmes

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Continuing her focus on job creation, Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) has signed on to two economic development bills that extend the life of Enterprise Zones.  Senate Bill 3253, of which Senator Holmes is a chief co-sponsor, gives local governments the ability to extend Enterprise Zones by 20 years.  Currently, zones can only be in existence for 30 years before expiring.

“We have seen many success stories in attracting business investment and job creation in Enterprise Zones all across the state,” said Holmes.  “In fact, 2010 alone saw over 9,000 new jobs created and over $2.6 billion in business investments in these zones.”

Enterprise Zones offer businesses state and local tax relief as well as regulatory relief for developments and investments in economically challenged areas.  First created in 1982 by the Illinois legislature, there are currently 96 active Enterprise Zones across the state, including a zone in the Des Plaines River Valley in Joliet that has created over 180 jobs and seen over $32 million in investment.

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“If we can’t keep track of where we stand financially, how can we possibly get our
fiscal house in order?” – Senator Linda Holmes

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Archaic. That was the word used to describe Illinois’ outdated and inefficient accounting systems, according an Auditor General’s report last year. But major reform legislation, sponsored by Illinois Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora), advanced the Senate today to ensure state
agencies are more timely and accurate when processing financial reporting data.

Senate Bill 3794 is the culmination of more than a years-worth of meetings and negotiations after a February 2011 audit revealed the state’s current way of financial reporting is comprised of over 250 different and extremely costly accounting systems. And over 80% of the outdated systems are not compliant with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

These factors have resulted in untimely financial reporting of the true financial position of the State, negatively affecting the State’s bond rating and jeopardizing federal funding opportunities.

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“Helping employers hire veterans is good for business, good for the economy, and the
right thing to do.” – Senator Linda Holmes

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Legislation co-sponsored by State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) aimed at encouraging businesses to hire unemployed veterans passed the Illinois Senate earlier today. The measure, Senate Bill 3241, gives employers a 20% tax credit when they hire an unemployed veteran who has served on active duty since September 11, 2001.

“Unemployment among our veterans far exceeds national averages,” Holmes said. "Returning veterans have already proven themselves to be committed, disciplined, and experienced workers – helping employers hire veterans is good for business, good for the economy, and the right thing to do."

Under current law, businesses are entitled to a tax credit equal to 10% of wages paid to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Holmes’ legislation focuses on the unemployed veteran by giving a 20% tax credit to employers who hire such veterans.  For the business to receive the tax credit, the newly-hired veteran must have been:

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