As more baby-boomers retire, Illinois is increasingly missing out on a revenue source. Of the 41 states with an income tax, Illinois is one of only three that exempt all pension income.
A new report from the Chicago-based Civic Federation says Illinois needs to take a longer-term approach to budgeting; one that is rooted less in politics, and more in reality. Most notably. the group recommends Illinois extend its current income tax rate for a year before gradually rolling it back.
The Illinois Supreme Court has ordered that four lawsuits challenging Illinois' new pension reform law be consolidated.
The March 3 order transfers the case filed by a group of retired teachers in Cook County Circuit Court to Sangamon County Circuit Court, where the three other cases were filed.
The court says all of the cases will be heard together in Springfield. Each of the groups' lawsuits share the common claim that the new pension reform plan violates the state constitution, which says benefits may not be diminished or impaired.
When politicians talk about budgets, someone invariably brings up the idea of across the board spending cuts. It's easy to understand. it also plays into an inherent fear of big government.
WUIS' Sean Crawford talked with Chris Mooney, the Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois. Mooney wrote about the topic as part of a new project called the Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox.
Mooney says across the board cutting is more complicated than it seems.
A new report says electricity deregulation has saved Illinois customers up to $37 billion over the past 16 years.
The report being released Monday by four business groups says the average household has paid $3,600 less overall than if the average annual electricity rates had stayed the same.
Deregulation kicked in in 1998, allowing Illinois utilities to compete for business on the open market rather than being regulated monopolies whose rates were set. The utilities before deregulation both supplied and delivered electricity to customers, who had no other choices.
A group of lawmakers is challenging the broad powers enjoyed by Illinois' conservation police officers. At issue is whether the officers can operate on private land without a warrant.
Illinois law lets conservation police enter "all lands and waters" to enforce the Wildlife Code. The idea is, even if you have a huge private forest, you’re not allowed to, say, shoot a deer out of season.
State Rep. Dennis Reboletti, a Republican from Elmhurst, says just about every other type of police officer operates under stricter limits.
The director of the state's child welfare agency who pleaded guilty to stealing money from clients of a Chicago social-service agency 20 years ago has resigned from his post.
Department of Children and Family Services Director Arthur Bishop submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Pat Quinn's office Wednesday. The letter notes that his background could be a distraction for Quinn in the upcoming election.
UPDATE: On Tues., March 4, FEMA denied Illinois' appeal for public assistance for nine counties.
This week, Gov. Pat Quinn gave a keynote speech at a forum in Washington, D.C. on natural disasters. The governor says Illinois has suffered a record-number of incidents in recent years. And yet the state has come up short when it's sought help from the federal government. That includes a rejection following the outbreak of 25 tornados in Illinois at the end of last year — tornadoes from which the towns of Washington, Gifford, and others are still recovering.
A southern Illinois lawmaker wants to temporarily cut the tax on propane. The Belleville News-Democrat reports the proposal is being introduced by Salem Republican Rep. John Cavaletto.
He wants to lower the tax from 6.25 percent to 1.25 percent. If it's approved, the decrease would take effect June 1 and last through August.
Cavaletto says the temporary reprieve could mean ``hundreds of dollars in savings for the average homeowner'' if they fill propane tanks before the temperature drops in the fall. His says his bill would offer one-time relief.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard got the endorsement of a retired group of teachers Wednesday. But he’s still lagging front-runner Bruce Rauner, who continues to tap his significant personal fortune for his campaign.
The Illinois House took a key first step in the state budgeting process Tuesday.
It adopted what's called a "revenue estimate" — how much money Illinois is expected to be able to spend in the next fiscal year.
The cap, of $34.495 billion, is significant in several ways: It's about a billion less than last year's number, which means lawmakers are going to have extend the tax increase or find other sources of money, or they'll have to make a lot of cuts. On the other hand, it's not as bad as some people had feared.
The Illinois Senate is considering limits on the ways law enforcement can use electronic tracking information. Both privacy advocates and police are in favor of the change.
With the popularity of GPS-enabled smart phones, many of us are constantly broadcasting our location. And Illinois law doesn't have much to say about how that information can and can't be used against us in court.
Privacy advocates want restrictions. And even law enforcement can be left guessing as to what's legal.
Illinois, like many states, suffered financially during the recession. But an economist says Illinois was in a weaker position to deal with the challenge.
David Merriman is with the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs. The Institute has developed what's called the Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox. Merriman says it will provide information on the state's finances and analysis of proposals that come up during an election year.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is ramping up his re-election campaign.
Quinn's campaign announced over the weekend the Chicago Democrat has hired Illinois native Bill Hyers to serve as chief strategist.
Hyers most recently managed Bill de Blasio's successful campaign for mayor of New York. In 2012 he managed President Barack Obama's Pennsylvania campaign operation. He was Midwest director for Obama in 2008.
Quinn is seeking his second full term. He faces a lesser-known opponent, anti-violence activist Tio Hardiman of Hillside, in the March 18 primary.
Illinois lawmakers are considering whether to crack down on universities giving a certain type of interest-free loan to faculty. Except it doesn’t seem to be happening in Illinois.
State Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat from Marnego, says the legislation is meant to prevent universities from abusing their tax-exempt status.
“What we found was that tax-exempt universities were giving interest-free … loans, and also forgiving loans, for second homes for professors, at a time when students are taking on excessive debt," Franks says.
Documents obtained by The Associated Press show Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford spent nearly $27,000 in taxpayer money on an investigation into allegations of political coercion and sexual harassment against him.
The Republican candidate for governor revealed the cost of the report under the Freedom of Information Act. But his lawyers have refused to disclose results of the investigation into the former employee's charges.
Edmund Michalowski claimed in a federal lawsuit Feb. 10 that Rutherford
One Illinois same-sex couple has gotten married after a judge ruled ruled gay couples in the Chicago area don't have to wait until June to marry.
Mercedes Santos and Theresa Volpe were married Friday afternoon in downtown Chicago. They have been together 22 years and have three children. Clerk David Orr said he would start offering the licenses Friday after the federal judge's ruling. It applies only to Cook County.
A judge waived the 24-hour waiting period for Santos and Volpe because they were plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
A court case decided in Arizona Thursday could have implications for Illinois' ongoing legal battle over pensions. The decision (pdf), by the Arizona Supreme Court, struck down an attempt to reduce Arizona officials' retirement benefits.
State lawmakers are considering legislation to prevent smoking in cars with children. Though the measure is aimed at protecting passengers' health, the proposal is raising questions about personal privacy.
The measure would make it illegal to smoke in a car with a minor, but a police officer couldn't pull over drivers just for lighting up.
Even so, Kathy Drea, of the American Lung Association, says putting a law on the books sends a message to smokers.
Drea compares the proposal to other laws pertaining to vehicles.
Efforts to raise the minimum wage have been getting a lot of attention, but it's not the only proposal intended to improve the lives of the working poor. Following the call of Gov. Pat Quinn, some lawmakers want to double Illinois' tax credit for low income workers.
The earned income tax credit began as a federal program, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.
Illinois added its own state tax credit later. It's aimed at helping people work their way out of poverty by increasing their spending power.
Advocates for people with disabilities say they're worried Governor Pat Quinn's newest healthcare initiative would crowd out certain groups.
The governor's proposal would consolidate nine separate programs that serve people with disabilities. Michael Gelder, the governor's senior advisor on healthcare, says centralizing these programs would be more efficient.
Illinois lawmakers are considering whether to increase the penalties for a type of Internet shaming known as "revenge porn." It involves posting naked photos of someone on the Web without their consent.
Diana Pisone is an interior designer from Oak Park. A few years ago, she was in what she describes as an emotionally abusive relationship. Sometimes, when her husband said "do this or else," she'd let him tape her in compromising situations.