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Statehouse
4:42 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Pension Plan Advances To House And Senate

A bipartisan committee of lawmakers has approved a plan to deal with Illinois' $100 billion pension problem. The measure now moves to the House and Senate for consideration.  

The Associated Press confirmed with six members of the 10-member panel that they had signed the measure Monday after arriving in Springfield for a special session.  
Leaders announced the plan last week. It comes nearly five months after a special committee was formed to tackle the problem.  

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Statehouse
1:14 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Senator Kirk Opposes State Pension Plan

Sen. Mark Kirk

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says a pension-reform deal under consideration in Springfield ``falls short of finding the savings needed to solve Illinois' fiscal crisis.''  

The Republican senator issued his statement Monday morning. The deal that legislative leaders announced last week could go to a vote in the Illinois General Assembly as early as Tuesday. Kirk says state lawmakers shouldn't pass a bill that he says lawmakers and voters haven't had time to read.  

Kirk says the proposal ``relies heavily on accounting gimmicks'' and doesn't prevent a permanent income tax hike.  

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Sports
1:11 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Illini Football Coach To Return Next Season

Tim Beckman

Illinois has confirmed that football coach Tim Beckman will be back for a third season in 2014.
 
Athletic Director Mike Thomas said Monday through a spokesman that Beckman will return. Thomas and Beckman plan to talk later this week about the football staff and other aspects of the program.
 
Speculation about Beckman's job security followed him through much of the 4-8 season that ended with Saturday's 37-34 loss to Northwestern.
 
Some fans called for Beckman's ouster after his first season at Illinois. The Illini went 2-10.
 

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Lincoln
8:07 am
Mon December 2, 2013

"Lincoln In The World" Reviews His Handling Of Foreign Affairs

Kevin Peraino has written a book about Lincoln, but it's on a topic few have tackled.  "Lincoln In The World" examines Lincoln's foreign policy and his influence around the world.  

Peraino is qualified in this area, having served as a foreign correspondent for Newsweek. 

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Health Desk
7:18 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Downstate Cancer Rates Higher

A new study shows cancer rates are higher in downstate Illinois.  Smoking may be the reason.   

A report from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and the Illinois Department of  Public Health of public health says the southern two thirds of Illinois have higher cancer rates and lower survival rates than those in the northern part.  The study looks at two decades worth of cancer statistics.  SIU Med School's David Steward says the likely culprit is lung cancer, which is especially higher in Men.

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Arts Benefit
7:00 am
Mon December 2, 2013

UIS Art Gallery Kicks Off Silent Auction Fundraiser

From a previous silent auction
Credit uis.edu/visualarts/gallery/

The UIS Visual Arts Gallery hosts multiple exhibits throughout the year that highlight the work of contemporary artists from all over the country. But once annually, the gallery walls are filled with mostly local art - and it's all for sale to the highest bidder. Jeff Robinson heads the UIS gallery - he recently told us all about plans for this year's silent auction,  December 2nd through the 12th: 

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Statehouse
5:57 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

Listen To State Week - November 29, 2013

This week, the candidate filing deadline for the gubernatorial primaries, and legislative leaders' plan to solve the state's pension crisis.

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Pensions
4:10 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

How Leaders Want To Overhaul Illinois Pensions

Details are out on what the leaders of Illinois' General Assembly want to do to the state's retirement systems. They've released an outline of their deal.

After years of debate about what to do about the $100 billion dollars of unfunded liability Illinois has racked up for its pension systems, legislative leaders announced on Wednesday they had agreed to a deal. But they were tight-lipped about what all it involved.

That information has now been spelled out in a one-page overview, a memo passed out to members of the House and Senate.

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Statehouse
2:22 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

Pension Legislation Details Released

Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Earlier this week, legislative leaders announced a deal to bring a pension overhaul before the full chambers. It is estimated to save $160 billion over the next 30 years.  Illinois has the nation's most underfunded retirement systems.

On Friday, the leaders' staff sent around the memo below that highlights changes for public employee pensions.  Lawmakers are expected in Springfield to vote on legislation Tuesday, December 3.  Employee unions have already indicated opposition and if it passes, a legal challenge is likely.

PENSION REFORM PROPOSAL

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Pension Overhaul
4:49 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Leaders Reach Pension Deal; Now Drumming Up Votes

House Speaker Michael Madigan talked to reporters about pensions during the end of the spring legislative session; he and Senate President John Cullerton were at odds then over how to deal with the state's underfunded retirement systems.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  The leaders of Illinois' General Assembly have reached a deal on pensions. But now they have to persuade legislators to go along with it. The House and Senate will meet in Springfield Tuesday (12/3) to debate the measure.

It's the first time the four leaders of the House and Senate have come together on a plan dealing with the state's pensions, which are the worst-funded in the nation. Details are forthcoming, but House Speaker Michael Madigan came out of a meeting in Chicago saying it will save $160 billion.

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Statehouse
3:40 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

First Same Sex Marriage Has Occurred In Illinois

Credit Cook County Clerk's Office

Two Chicago women have become the first couple to take their vows under the new same-sex marriage law in Illinois.  
Patricia Ewert and Vernita Gray married in a private ceremony Wednesday, just days after a judge agreed to expedite their wedding because of Gray's terminal illness.  

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Local Government
2:24 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

City Of Springfield Could Settle Police File Shredding Lawsuit

Credit wikimedia commons

The City of Springfield could be close to settling a lawsuit over destruction of police records.  Springfield Mayor Mike Houston has filed an ordinance that would settle the case for $102,964.10.

Aldermen could vote on it Tuesday night.  The proposal says Calvin Christian, who filed the suit, would receive about $30,000 while his attorneys would get much of the remainder.  Christian took the city to court after documents he had sought under the Freedom of Information Act were destroyed.  The city would admit no wrongdoing under the deal.

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Statehouse
1:03 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Pension Deal Reached; Vote Likely Next Week

Credit Wikimedia Commons

House Speaker Michael Madigan says the vote on a pension deal will be ``very difficult'' when lawmakers gather for a special session next week.  
Madigan spoke to reporters Wednesday after legislative leaders said they agreed on a proposal that will help solve Illinois' $100 billion pension crisis.  

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Regional
11:21 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Mississippi River Reopens To Barge Traffic After Townboat Sank

Credit WVIK

A portion of the Mississippi River between eastern Iowa and northern Illinois has reopened to barge traffic, as officials continue to investigate the sinking of a towboat still leaking diesel fuel and oil.
 
Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Colin Fogarty says officials determined Tuesday night that other boats can safely navigate the waterway. A queue has cleared, and boats are traveling through at a slower pace.
 

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Election 2014
5:15 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Poll: It's Anyone's Governor's Race

Seven candidates filed for governor earlier this week: four Republicans (Treasurer Dan Rutherford, whose lieutenant governor pick, Steve Kim, is pictured on the far left; Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-HInsdale, who is on the top right; Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, on the bottom right; and Bruce Rauner) and two Democrats, Gov. Pat Quinn and Tio Hardiman, of Chicago.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Pat Quinn has been surpassed as the nation's least-liked governor, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling. Pennsylvania's Pennsylvania's Republican Gov., Tom Corbett, can now claim that title. But the new poll shows Quinn could still have a hard time holding on to his seat.

It was about this time last year, that numbers from Public Policy Polling showed Democrat Pat Quinn as the most unpopular governor in the country.

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Transportation
3:45 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Sangamon County In Top Ten For Deer-Vehicle Accidents

It's likely you or someone you know have struck a deer.   While it seems as though they are always wandering into the road, the actual number of deer-vehicle accidents was down last year.  

State Farm Insurance has already predicted another decline based on claims filed.   The company attributes the expected decline in accidents to a smaller deer population and increased driver awareness.  It says Illinois drivers have less chance of hitting a deer than the national average.  

In Sangamon County last year, there were 335 accidents, 75 fewer than the year before.  

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Harvest Desk
9:09 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Buffett: "Everybody Can Do Something" To Fight Hunger

Howard G. Buffett
Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

Farmer and philanthropist Howard G. Buffett had several messages for his hometown crowd this week. Among them?  "Everybody who is physically able" can do something to fight hunger.

Buffett spoke Tuesday before signing copies of his latest book, 40 Chances, at a fundraising event for Decatur area charities.  

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Election 2014
6:15 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Rauner Gives Another $500,000 To Election Bid

Credit brucerauner.com

A Republican candidate for Illinois governor has contributed another $500,000 to his campaign.  
Winnetka venture capitalist Bruce Rauner has now pumped $1.25 million of his own money into the four-way GOP primary for the right to take on Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in 2014.

Rauner filed petition signatures for a ballot position yesterday and also released three years of tax returns. They show he reported more than $53 million in income last year.  
He also disclosed ownership stakes in three professional sports franchises, including the Chicago Bulls.  

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Statehouse
3:48 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Quinn: Next Week Could End Pension Gridlock

Gov. Pat Quinn says next week is another opportunity to tackle the state's $100 billion pension crisis.  
Legislative leaders have been negotiating on a plan, which could come up next week if there's a special session in Springfield. House Speaker Michael Madigan has told representatives to be ready for a one-day session next Tuesday. The Senate has tentatively set some days aside next week.  

However, details about the plan haven't been released publicly and legislative leaders say they're still hammering out issues.  

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Regional
3:38 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Cong. Findley Items Donated To Illinois College

Former area congressman Paul Findley has donated his congressional papers and other artifacts from his career to his alma mater, Illinois College in Jacksonville.  

The official transfer took place in the Paul Findley Congressional Office Museum on the campus.  

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12:33 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

The Great State of Sangamon?

Lead in text: 
St. Louis, Peoria, Cedar Rapids, and Springfield in the new state of Sangamon? Look at this map developed in 2012 that has now been printed. What do you think of revamping the U.S. map by population?
Neil Freeman, 2012 map format and dimensions vary The electoral college is a time-honored, logical system for picking the chief executive of the United States. However, the American body politic has also grown accustomed to paying close attention to the popular vote.
Business
11:55 am
Tue November 26, 2013

WUIS / SJ-R Business Report: Nov. 26, 2013

Tim Landis
Credit SJ-R

WUIS' Sean Crawford talks with the State Journal-Register's Tim Landis about outlet malls planned for Springfield.  Are there enough shoppers to support all the stores?

We also discuss an expansion for Springfield Clinic and the shutdown of the final unionized mine in the state of Illinois.


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Same Sex
6:53 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Judge Orders Expedited Marriage License for Same Sex Couple

Credit Cook County Clerk's Office

The U.S. District Court in Chicago has ordered Cook County's clerk to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, one of whom is terminally ill.  

County Clerk David Orr said he will comply with the court's order, handed down Monday by Judge Thomas Durkin.  

A lawsuit was filed Friday by Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Illinois seeking immediate action for Vernita Gray and Patricia Ewert. Gray has bone and brain cancer. Illinois' gay marriage law goes into effect June 1.  

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District 186
6:00 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Expelled Students Get A Second Chance

Elbert Betts, Adrianna Sivels, and Andre Williams
Rachel Otwell

When high school students in district 186 are expelled they're left with few options to obtain a diploma or GED. Over a decade ago, the Springfield NAACP started an initiative to address the number of black students being expelled. Since the year 2000, expelled high schoolers have been provided an alternative through those efforts - thanks in large part to retired teachers.

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Election 2014
4:40 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Rauner Made $53 Million In 2012

Bruce Rauner's 2012 tax returns show he made more than $53 million in 2012, most of it from interest and capital gains.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

One of the Republicans running for governor had a very good year in 2012. Bruce Rauner released his tax returns Monday, and says he made more than $53 million.

When people say, don't work for your money, make money work for you, this is what they're talking about.

Rauner's 2012 tax returns show he and his wife made almost all of their money on interest, capital gains, and real estate.

The line on his tax form for W-2s, where most people report "wages, salaries, (and) tips," shows zero dollars.

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Sports
3:02 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

U Of I Football Staffer Faces Gun Charges

Matt Sinclair played for the Illini from 2001-2004.
Credit fightingillini.com

Authorities say University of Illinois football staff member and former player Matt Sinclair has been charged after allegedly pointing an unloaded handgun at a vehicle carrying other staff members.
 
Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz says Sinclair was arraigned Monday on two felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon. He was arrested Saturday after Illinois' game at Purdue.
 
Rietz says someone called police to report a driver pointing a gun out of a truck on Interstate 74 in eastern Illinois. Police say Sinclair said he pointed the gun as a joke.
 

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Election 2014
2:13 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Six Candidates File To Run For Governor

Some candidates sent surrogates to file their petitions; others went themselves, including lieutenant governor candidate Steve Kim ( who is GOP Tres. Dan Rutherford's running mate) and Republican gubernatorial candidates Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale and Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Candidates looking to run in the March primary began filing their paperwork today (11/25) with the State Board of Elections. Anyone who was in line by 8 a.m. gets a chance at the top spot on the ballot. Six men who want to be Illinois' next governor made that deadline.

Campaigns waited in a long line, despite a forecast of snow, so that they could get their petitions in. Some candidates send staffers as surrogates, including Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn and one of his four Republican challengers, Bruce Rauner.

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Regional
11:43 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Chef Charlie Trotter Died From A Stroke

Cook County Medical Examiner Stephen Cina says in a statement Monday that tests showed the 54-year-old Trotter died from a stroked related to high blood pressure.  

Cina says neither drugs nor alcohol contributed to Trotter's death on Nov. 5 in Chicago, adding there was ``no scientific evidence'' that Trotter's recently travels contributed to his death.  

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Musicians
10:40 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Sherman Man Combines Christianity & Hip Hop

Zach Ayappa  is a 23 year old with a lot of passion for two things in particular: hip hop and God. The rapper goes by 'Momma's Boy' - it's a name that lends to starting conversation about his adoption, a topic he raps about along with Christianity. Ayappa hails from Sherman and brings his performances to churches around central Illinois. We caught up with him for an interview and performance at  a baptist church on Springfield's east side: 

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Harvest Desk
9:33 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Why The 'Turkey Shortage' Won't Affect Your Thanksgiving Meal

No need to panic, there's still plenty of turkey to be had. The "shortage" was only from one company, Butterball, and affected large fresh birds.
Credit tuchodi via Flickr/Creative Commons

Watched the news lately? Then you might’ve heard about impending doom for Thanksgiving dinners across the country.

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