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January 31, 2020



A study by the University of Illinois Springfield’s Institute for Illinois Public Finance reports mixed results with respect to the efficiency of Illinois state government when compared to other states. The study finds that Illinois state government is in a group of the most efficient states in three areas: higher education, environment and housing, and infrastructure. It is in the top 20 states for efficiency in welfare, and in the top half of states for public safety and health and hospitals efficiency. However, the state ranks below average in efficiency in elementary and secondary education and near the bottom in transportation. “The study is unique in that the measures of efficiency that are produced lead directly to recommendations for improving the efficiency of state government operations,” said Arwi Srithongrung Kriz, a UIS Institute for Illinois Public Finance research fellow who authored the study. Recommendations in the study include increasing regional or centralized services shared by local school districts for the elementary and secondary education function and reducing capital project acquisition costs when it comes to transportation.



Communities around the Midwest and Great Lakes are using green infrastructure as part of their stormwater management plan. The Green Infrastructure North Central Regional Water Network team has spent the last year discussing how to help those communities go even further. Specifically, they are looking at ways communities can use green infrastructure to promote social equity and workforce development. On April 28, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois the team invites Extension and Sea Grant professionals, local and state government officials, NGOs, business representatives, and others with an interest in community-level green infrastructure to a one-day Equitable Green Infrastructure Summit. The summit will feature experts in green infrastructure, stormwater, and social justice, overview the results of the team’s green infrastructure community listening sessions, and allow time for attendees to work together to identify and prioritize opportunities for Extension and Sea Grant to help communities use green infrastructure practices to reach multiple societal goals. The summit is free, however registration is required as breakfast and lunch will be provided. Space is limited so don’t wait.



In New Orleans, a former Catholic convent badly damaged in Hurricane Katrina will become a 25-acre urban wetland, one of the largest in the United States. The Mirabeau Water Garden is a showcase project of Resilient New Orleans, the city’s resilience strategy, which outlines three key visions for the city’s future: adapt to thrive, connect to opportunity, and transform city systems. The water garden vision is based on innovative site design and stormwater management features developed in the Greater New Orleans Urban Water Plan. City officials estimate the project at $30 million. Flash floods are a problem in New Orleans, because much of the city sits below sea level and more powerful storms now pass over the city. Even average rains can cause flooding, but big storms can deliver 2 to 3 inches in a single hour. The Mirabeau Water Garden will have the capacity to absorb almost 10 million gallons of stormwater runoff from the surrounding neighborhood. The water will still trickle down into the city’s old drainage system, but filtering through the wetland will mete out the water from even the largest deluges more gradually, preventing storm drains from becoming overwhelmed.



Join us on February 20 at Noon CST for Using a “Stress Testing” Approach to Measuring the Fiscal Sustainability of Local Governments, featuring Kenneth A. Kriz, Ph.D. is University Distinguished Professor of Public Administration at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Dr. Kriz conducts research focusing on subnational debt policy and administration, public pension fund management, government financial risk management, economic and revenue forecasting, and behavioral public finance. Dr. Kriz is a frequent presenter at public economics and public budgeting and financial management, and has consulted with several public and nonprofit organizations, including large municipalities, on financial and economic matters. As measuring the fiscal sustainability of local governments is an important component of understanding the threats that they face in delivering public services, a common approach is using a handful of (mostly financial) indicators are chosen in a more or less ad hoc manner. What results is only a partial understanding of the fiscal challenges facing a jurisdiction, with little predictive power. We take a different path and build on the work of the Federal Reserve Bank and other central banks in building “stress testing” models. The model is based on a full simulation of the economic and financial condition of a jurisdiction. The results will allow officials to not only get an early warning about future financial stress but to better understand the forces creating the stress.



February 6 (Small Farms Webinar) - Farm Stress and Impact on Health

February 13 (Small Farms Webinar) - Updates on Industrial Hemp in Illinois 

February 20 (LGE Webinar) - Using a “Stress Testing” Approach to Measuring the Fiscal Sustainability of Local Governments

February 20 (Small Farms Webinar) - Soil Organic Matters

February 26-27 (Springfield) - Annual Rural Community Economic Development Conference 

February 27 (Small Farms Webinar) - Saturated Media Extract

March 1 (Deadline) - Illinois 2020 Conservation Achievement Scholarship

March 3-4 (Springfield, IL) - RTAC Conference

March 5 (Small Farms Webinar) - Selling through Food Hubs and Co-ops: A Growers Perspective

March 12 (Small Farms Webinar) - Getting Started in Drip Irrigation

March 20 (Small Farms Webinar) - The Basics for Goats and Sheep


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