A Weekly Update on Issues with Illinois State Senator Gary Forby...

Last week, I sent a letter to Governor Pat Quinn asking him to obey the wishes of the General Assembly and the people of Southern Illinois and to keep important state service centers and other facilities open.  My biggest concern is Tamms Correctional Center because it is here in the 59th Senate District, but I’m also worried about places like Murray Developmental Center, which serves people throughout Southern Illinois.

 

These state facilities were all built for a reason.  Tamms was built to lower prison violence by moving the worst of the worst out of the general population.  These are violent men who have attacked or killed other inmates or guards.  They’re gang leaders who smuggle illegal materials into prisons and still have the power to incite violence and other criminal activity outside.  They’re dangerous killers and brutal rapists.

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Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

 A Weekly Update on Issues with Illinois State Senator Gary Forby...

June is National Safety Month, a time to take a hard look at what you do at home, work, and on the road and to decide if you’re living as safely as you can.  This year, the National Safety Council is promoting employee wellness, safe workplaces, preventing falls, and driving safely.

The first step in wellness is eating a healthy diet.  Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, lean meats, seafood, and lower sodium foods.  It’s also important to drink lots of water instead of sugary drinks and to recognize that restaurants serve more food per meal than the average person should eat.  You can always take some home for later.  The next step is staying active.  Being active doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours at the gym.  Making an effort to take a brisk walk, go for a bike ride, work in the yard, or clean the house every day can be all you need to stay fit.

On the job and at home, it’s important to make sure you work in a safe environment and minimize activities that will damage your muscles, nerves, and joints.  Avoid overexertion, repetitive motions, working in awkward positions, sitting or standing in one position for too long, and resting on sharp corners or edges.  If you experience joint or muscle pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, tenderness, clicking, or loss of grip strength, consult a doctor.

Avoiding falls is important because they are the number one cause of unintentional injury resulting in an emergency room visit—8.7 million each year.  Seniors are especially at risk.  To avoid falls, keep floors and stairs clean and clear.  Don’t stand on chairs, tables, or other pieces of furniture with wheels.  Check the condition of outside walkways during warm weather months, and remove fallen leaves and snow frequently.

Knowing how to drive safely is easy.  Actually driving safely is much more of a challenge.  This month, make an effort to wear your seatbelt and make sure everyone else in the car is belted in as well.  Remember, in Illinois, it’s the law for everyone to wear a seatbelt.  Don’t drink and drive—and don’t let friends and loved ones drink and drive either.  Don’t talk on the phone when driving.  Recent research has shown that even using a hands-free device doesn’t make a difference.  It’s not holding the phone that distracts drivers; it’s the mental distraction of the conversation.

Of course, safety isn’t limited to just these topics.  Remember, June is a time to evaluate the safety of everything you do. 

Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

 A Weekly Update on Issues with Illinois State Senator Gary Forby...

Last week, we wrapped up the spring session of the Illinois General Assembly.  I believe we got a lot done.  We passed a balanced budget, reduced Medicaid costs, and sent hundreds of pieces of legislation to the governor on a wide range of topics.  It’s possible that we’ll return to Springfield for a day or two this summer to deal with a few left-over issues like state park funding and the governor’s push to reduce state employee pension costs, but I look forward to spending most of the summer here in the district, listening to your concerns and ideas.

In the end, I supported the budget plan that passed the General Assembly, even though there were some areas that I think we cut too much.  The budget is balanced.  We expect to take in $33.7 billion for the state’s major checking account, and we only spend $33.7 billion.  It pays our full pension payment, so the state won’t sink deeper into debt.  It even has funding to pay down the backlog of overdue bills the state owes small businesses, schools, and universities.  It also has money to keep open important state facilities like Tamms Correctional Center and Murray Developmental Center that provide good-paying jobs and important services to Southern Illinois families.

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Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

A Weekly Update on Issues with Illinois State Senator Gary Forby...

The end of May is the time of year that the General Assembly usually works on big issues.  There’s a lot on our plate this year with the governor pushing Medicaid reform and pension reform, in addition to a balanced budget.  I believe all of us want a balanced budget—where we disagree is how to balance it.  One issue that has drawn a lot of attention here in Southern Illinois is state park funding.

First off, let me say that I believe we need to find a way to keep state parks open and available to the public—and do it in a way that won’t keep people away from the many parks here in Southern Illinois.  Parks and Wildlife Areas like Giant City, Ferne Clyffe, Cave-in-Rock, and Rend Lake draw tourists to our area from all over Illinois and all over the Midwest.  They bring local businesses much-needed customers, and they give everyone access to Illinois’ natural beauty.

Unfortunately, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has seen its budget repeatedly slashed—even before the Great Recession began in 2008.  The men and women who work for DNR have done a great job doing more with less, but anyone who’s visited a park in the last few years has seen the effects of budget cuts.  Realistically, the best we can hope to do is hold the line and prevent further cuts to DNR funding.  Even that may be difficult this year, with major cuts proposed in almost every area—including K-12 education spending, public safety, and more.  I will fight for Southern Illinois state parks and do what I can to make sure things don’t get worse, but it’s going to be a tough year, and Chicago-area legislators often seem more than willing to cut funding for things like agriculture and state parks.

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Category: A Weekly Update on Issues with Senator Forby

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