House Speaker Michael Madigan Creates Jobs Task Force, Appoints Lou Lang Chair

House Speaker Michael Madigan

(Chicago, IL) – Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan last week created a new, bi-partisan jobs task force to tackle Illinois bulging, 10.9% unemployment rate.

Madigan empanelled the Bipartisan Jobs Creation Task Force and appointed Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie) as chair.

Lang said the task force will focus on targeted legislative job creation initiatives that can be approved by the Illinois General Assembly during its spring 2010 term.

“This task force will act swiftly to identify legislative fixes that will help and encourage Illinois employers to hire new Illinois employees,” said Lang. “There will be no time wasted on unread reports or undoable grand schemes.”

For example, Lang cited state permit regulations that can delay new building and factory openings by several months as a potential target for reform.

“Without compromising employee safety, the task force will aim at obstacles that shackle an employer’s ability to get new employees working quickly,” said Lang.

Since the memo was issued, 30 lawmakers have signed up for the panel.

According to Madigan’s memo issued to lawmakers, “Task Force members will travel to key labor markets in various parts of the State to hold several hearings on potential legislative job initiatives.”

The task force will begin its work early January 2010.

“We have no time to waste,” said Lang.

Listen here to an interview with Lang at WJBC Radio …

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Lou Lang Honored for Foster Family Legislative Advocacy

Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang

(Chicago, IL) – December 2, 2009. The Child Care Association of Illinois today bestowed its “Champion for Children” award on Illinois House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie) for his relentless legislative advocacy in behalf of Illinois foster families.

Lang received the award in conjunction with efforts by groups across the country to celebrate National Family Week in honor of children and families in their communities.

“Rep. Lang has long fought to adequately reimburse Illinois foster parents for the cost of care and more broadly has long been a leader in child welfare reform,” said Marge Berglind, President of the Child Care Association of Illinois. “And we are proud to grant him our ‘Champion for Children’ award this year.”

Lang, a House lawmaker since 1987, said, “Marge Berglind, the Child Care Association and foster parents are the real champions for children here in Illinois, but I humbly accept and appreciate the honor on behalf of the work they perform.”

National Family Week, founded in 1968 and directed by the Alliance for Children and Families, embraces the premise that children live better lives when their families are strong, and families are strong when they live in communities that connect them to economic opportunities, social networks, and services.

Specifically, in 2010, the Child Care Association of Illinois will be focusing on two key legislative agenda items that aim to bolster Illinois foster families:

  • Protecting the current level of foster parent reimbursement in the face of enormous Illinois budget deficits
  • Imposing a fair method for calculating foster parent expense reimbursement rates in the future.

“Foster parents have had only two increases in eight years to pay expenses to feed, clothe, house, and transport foster children, and inflation has deeply eroded the value of the static state reimbursement,” said Berglind.

“As inadequate as it is, still, we must protect the current reimbursement against any cuts next year as Illinois struggles to balance its budget.”

On average, an Illinois foster parent spends $703 per month—of that $281 comes out of the foster parent’s pocket, Berglind noted.

A national report on foster parent under-funding released two years ago by two national organizations and the University of Maryland said Illinois’ average rates (for children 2, 9, and 16) were $380, $422, and $458 per month and they needed to be raised to $661, $757, and $830 to meet actual costs.

Last year, legislation was sponsored by Lang to provide a one-time payment of $24 million to the state’s 7,500 foster parents. The payments would have averaged $145 per foster child.

“It’s an embarrassment that that the state seeks volunteer foster parents to care for abused and neglected children and then refuses to pay the full cost of care,” said Lang. “The very least we can do is inflict no further financial harm on foster parents next year.”

Once budget deficit pressures recede, Berglind says the Child Care Association of Illinois will resume its campaign to raise foster parent reimbursement rates.

Lang received the award at the Hyatt Hotel in Lisle on December 2 during the annual meeting of the Child Care Association of Illinois.

National Family Week is supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.