Rural issues are top priority for Lt. Governor Simon

Months of surveys and meetings with rural residents around the state have resulted in a new strategic plan with a 3 point focus on unmet needs of rural Illinoisans.

The office of the Lt. Governor , the Governor's Rural Affairs Council (GRAC) and the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs worked together to develop the plan called " Vision for Rural Illinois ." Polls conducted in 2010 and listening posts fom March through May of 2012 in several communities in the state including Quincy, allowed the Governor's Rural Affairs Council to gather some eye opening information.

Three primary issues were the big concern of people in rural communities in Illinois.

1. Enhancing access to services in rural Illinois: Many rural residents in the state are unaware of the services that are available to them from state and federal agencies.

2. Empowering (or Positioning) rural Illinois for the future: Many of the people who commented at the rural listening posts felt that their needs were being overlooked when new legislation, program requirements or regulations were created.

3. Move rural EMS forward: The group will study the results of the House EMS task force and then make recommendations to meet the needs in rural service areas. The group also will explore the possibility of holding a rural EMS summit in the future that would take a closer look at the education requirements for rural EMS employees and how those employees are recruited and retained.

Working groups will continue to address these issues throughout the rest of this year and into 2013 before a final report is compiled and presented to the Governor and the General Assembly in August of 2013.