The meeting was chaired by former President Bill Leske and there were 29 members present. The only guest was Greg Jordan (Connie Berman's guest). Brooke Peppey gave the “thought of the day”.  Anniversaries mentioned were Jean Wright, 27 years and Markie Gekas, 22 years.
ANNOUNCEMENTS:  John Thomas introduced two new members to the Club—Krysten Warnes, newly announced head of the WYO, and Amy Skalinder, newly appointed head of the WCH.   Next week the Club will re-institute the “time to shine” presentations during the meeting, which will include both new and veteran  Club members.
Kids Against Hunger Food Packing will take place at the WCH on March 14th between 8:30 to 4:00 PM.
Chuck Norton announced the Club’s Spring benefit  May 15th at the Kenilworth Club.
Patti read from thank you cards received from the Hope Community Church in Chicago for all the coats our Club helped provide them.
Barb Tubekis announced the Jan. 20th celebration of Martin Luther King Day at the WCH.  This year’s theme is “harmony” and will have the assistance of many of our WYO kids performing in Matz Hall  music about “peace, harmony and patriotism”.  Adults are also encouraged to participate in the performances.
HAPPY BUCKS:  Wes donated to thank Carl Yudell for showing up at last week’s Club meeting to make sure that no one forgot that we had no meeting!  Julie Tye gave for Hadley finally completing its “transformation” project.  It was also reported that Dr. John Stone, former Club member, has regained his health and has become a world traveler including Cuba, Florida, Colorado—which he has to do in order to visit all his 10 grandchildren!
Felicia O’Malley handled the “dig and grin” giving examples how the 2020 New Year will produced many puns, such as next year at this time “everyone will have 20/20 hindsight”.
Robyn’s bio was set forth in the notice of this meeting and is quite extensive and impressive.  She reported that the current legislative session runs from January 1 through May; that the balanced budget reached this year in Springfield was bipartisan; that most of the State’s revenues come from individual taxes, sales taxes and (to a lesser extent) from large corporations.  She said that the new 40 billion dollar budget will be used to pay off old bills; to make full pension payments due and owing; DCFS gets 143 million and 375 million goes to evidenced based programs for K-12 education; State universities get a 5% increase over their past amounts; 20 million will be used to finish the Chicago Veterans Home which has remained unfinished for several years; there were increases for maternal insurance, child care programs and aid to the homeless; and  45 million was given for infrastructure projects, affordable housing, walking and hiking trails.  The State Chamber of Commerce ended up supporting the budget due to tax cuts for small and medium businesses.   Springfield believes that revenues from the new State marijuana law will be of great assistance in paying for these projects and that surveys show in other states that have passed a similar law that it did not result in “increased smoking by young people”.  She said that the next State election will have the question of a graduated income tax on the ballot and that this would help stabilize the State’s economy.
Other achievements/initiatives mentioned by Robyn were a graduated $15 minimum wage over the next 5 years; a pay equity act which prohibits employers from asking applicants their prior salaries; requiring that managed care organizations get paid for taking care of Medicaid patients within 45 days of providing the service; establishment of a $50 a year college savings account funded by the State for high school graduates because surveys have shown that this support encourages potential students to attend college; establishment of an Offshore Task Force to study putting wind turbines in Lake Michigan; encouraging State agencies to use more electric vehicles, starting with school buses; permitting victims of gun violence and their families to be able to take time off from work to attend to problems caused by such violence; and efforts to keep juveniles from being placed in Juvenile Detention Centers both before trial and after their convictions.
In response to a question about why the State doesn’t tax retirement benefits from State funds, she said that there would not be that much revenue raised with such tax and AARP and seniors generally would be opposed to it.  She said that Springfield continues to consider a Constitutional amendment to reduce future pension benefits for State employees but that it would be difficult to get such a change and that their focus is more on cutting expenses such as reducing the number of taxing bodies in the State.  She said that the pension problem is primarily the result of our past politicians not paying into the State pension funds for a number of years.  She said that the reports on Illinois losing population is of concern to Springfield but that the City of Chicago is not having that same problem. When asked about more nuclear plants to produce energy in the State, she said that half of the State’s energy is now supplied by nuclear facilities, but that there will be no new ones for the foreseeable future because of their expense to build and the danger of accidents.
The meeting was adjourned at 1:30.