News

Host Amanda Vinicky (Illinois Public Radio) and guests Brian Mackey (Illinois Public Radio) and Dave Dahl (Illinois Radio Network) discuss the year since private equity investor Bruce Rauner won election as governor, how seriously to take rumblings that former Gov. Pat Quinn wants a rematch, and the ongoing slow-motion shutdown of state government.

Illinois Department of Revenue

There are efforts at the State Capitol to double the homestead tax exemption across Illinois.  

flickr/talesofawanderingyoukai

A few months can make a lot of difference.  In the spring, the Sangamon County Economic Outlook Survey ound a lot of optimism.   But that was before a budget impasse left the State of Illinois without a spending plan for 4 months and counting.

Thousands of senior citizens and persons with disabilities are waiting to learn if Illinois will change how it determines who qualifies for state aid and what kind of services are provided. As the state's embroiled in budget gridlock, it's one of the areas Governor Bruce Rauner tried to cut back on spending. But legislators (including a handful of Rauner's fellow Republicans, a rarity) voted to prevent that.

On Friday, Rauner used his veto powers in an apparent attempt to strike a balance.

Ryan Michalesko

VICE News has published an investigation of American universities with ties to the military, police, and intelligence communities. Southern Illinois University in Carbondale ranked number 23, due to the number of alums who work in “top secret” jobs. The amount of funding SIU receives from national security and defense agencies was another factor.

Advocates for senior citizens and people with disabilities are assessing how action Friday by the Republican governor affects services they say they depend on.

Early this year, Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled a plan to save money, by making it harder for the elderly and disabled individuals to qualify for government aid.

People not deemed needy enough would no longer receive state-provided home care workers, or state-paid nursing home care.

Gov. Bruce Rauner continues downplaying the prospects for the upcoming meeting between he and state legislative leaders. Meanwhile, the partial government shutdown means some state universities might have a hard time making it through the spring semester. The Chicago Tribune's Monique Garcia joins the panel to talk about that and more on the latest episode of State Week.

flickr/shellac

Health officials in two western Illinois counties are investigating an illness affecting people who drank apple cider during a recent fall festival.

Earlier this year, Des Moines, Iowa, made news when the city announced it would sue farmers in a legal battle over fertilizer. The city’s water supply from the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers often surpasses the legal limit for nitrates (10 mg/L), which commonly appear in water contaminated by runoff from farm fields.

DEMO Project gallery

An international film fest, and an internationally known artist/art critic are in town - all in the same weekend! And there's plenty more to talk about. This week, Scott and Rachel are joined by Thea Chesley who works with the Route 66 Intl. Film Fest.

Events discussed this week include:

Illinois Department of Agriculture

Musical acts for the state fair were paid up front while the artist who sculpted the fair’s iconic butter cow is still waiting for her check. Meanwhile, an agency that helps survivors of sexual assault is in danger of closing as it waits for funding. 

wjff.org

The history of Jewish migration was partially defined by the peddlers who left their homes in search of a better life. They sold things like jewelry, and house-wares, traveling from town to town and staying in the homes of strangers. Their legacy includes the likes of businesses such as Sears and Levis Strauss.

City Club of Chicago

What's it like to be in charge of the state budget ... when there is no state budget? That's the topic for this edition of The Players: your look into who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to.

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

It occurs to me that one of the dearest benefits of living in a family is something so simple it’s easy to overlook: our families bear witness to our lives.

Family members are present to observe our lives up close and personal. 

Siblings see each other with greater knowledge than classmates do.  Classmates may suspect we’re sad when we didn’t make the team, but our siblings hear us crying into our pillow. While our coworkers may congratulate us on a promotion, our spouses see our real joy when we find success.

As they grow their reach in the state, ride-sharing companies are bringing transportation and jobs to underserved neighborhoods in some Illinois cities. 

instagram.com/96AcresProject

Mass incarceration, the war on drugs, mental illness, and racism within police departments: all these issues are alive and well in America. In Illinois - the Cook County Jail is the largest single jail site in the US - and houses apx. 9,000 people. Meanwhile, unlike many jails located in small towns and rural areas - this one is directly surrounded by a community of tens of thousands.

Illinois Issues/WUIS

On Tuesday, voters in Ohio considered whether to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana use. It would have created a new provision in the state's constitution that allowed only ten farms to grow the plant legally. That plan had its critics, and the measure failed. Many experts have their eye on Ohio - as it serves as an example of Midwestern residents trying to take on the legalization issue that has swept Colorado and the West Coast.

The Illinois Supreme Court has once again ruled in favor of tobacco giant Philip Morris. The decision, announced Wednesday, saves the company from a $10.1 billion judgment. 

The case has been before the court off and on for more than a decade. A group of smokers say Philip Morris tricked them into thinking “light” cigarettes were safer than regular. 

wired_gr on flickr.com

The Illinois State Board of Education is inviting the public to help set standards for school safety. Below is the board's press release. Note that an email address at the end provides a way to share your comment if you can't attend a hearing.

Illinois Report Card

The Springfield school district received good news late last week when graduation rates were announced through the Illinois Report Card. All three District 186 high schools saw their graduation rate jump by at least 7 percentage points in 2015, and Superintendent Jennifer Gill is pretty happy about that.

Jason Parrott/TSPR

The presidential campaign is coming to Springfield. 

Thomas Fitzgerald
Brian Mackey

Thomas Fitzgerald, a judge who had a leading role in the aftermath of some of Illinois’ most notorious political scandals, died on Sunday at his home in the Chicago suburbs.

Paul Sableman

Housing authorities spent on pricey dinners at training junkets and retirement bonuses for employees while public housing complexes in the state’s poorest county fell into serious disrepair.

The federal Department of Education has sent a letter to a Palatine high school inviting school officials to enter negotiations on arrangements where  a transgender female student can change clothes for PE and athletics. The DOE warned the Palatine school that the current arrangement violates Title IX. 

University of Illinois Chicago

City tries to figure out what's next after Fed's deny money for 10th street work.

Memorial Health System

An addition to the health care skyline in Springfield is Memorial Medical Center's new patient tower.

WILL

Mike Madigan is running for the Illinois General Assembly.

Urbana businessman and city council member Mike Madigan is running for the 52nd state senate district, he announced Monday in Champaign. Madigan is the owner of Hickory River restaurants in Urbana, Peoria, Springfield and Decatur and has served on the city council since May 2013. He's the only Republican in that heavily Democratic body.

While he may have the name in common with longtime Democratic House Speaker Madigan, this Madigan says the similarities pretty much end there.

IHPA

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency board of directors has dismissed the director and appointed its general counsel to hold the post on an interim basis. 

Brian Mackey / WUIS

Senior citizens are among those feeling the pain of Illinois' partial government shutdown. AARP and other groups are calling on the state’s top politicians to set aside their differences and pass a state budget.

The cost of the system, so far, is covered by a $9 million federal grant. The State Board of Education estimates the first-year cost of developing the program at about $1.1 million, followed by $2.5 million each of the next three years.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner has so far focused his attention on business and union issues, and restructuring state government - like workers' compensation, tort reform and legislative term limits. But what about his education agenda?

Pages