News

benbedford.com / lauraevelyncai.bandcamp.com

This week Rachel and Scott preview events like the "Spirited Stroll" in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield on Saturday afternoon and Champaign's Cinema Under the Stars screenings that last all summer. They also hear from Ben Bedford, a Springfield singer/songwriter who will be playing music from his new album at The Dana Thomas House on Friday. Tune in!

Rachel Otwell

Often times kids need a place to go after school lets out, especially in places like the east side of Springfield - where Feithsans Elementary School is located. About 90% of the kids who attend come from low-income families, though many parents work long hours to make ends meet. That's where the 21st Century program comes into play - it's a joint effort of District 186 and the Springfield Urban League - and relies heavily on the time and talents of volunteers.

flickr: Matt Turner

A potential new state budget barely passed the Illinois House last night,  but Governor Bruce Rauner is already signaling a veto.

Ounce of Prevention

  The number of social service groups suing Illinois is growing. Eighteen agencies are joining a lawsuit against the state to get paid -- since they haven't received $130 million due to the budget impasse. One of the latest groups to sue is notable because of who's in charge.

flickr/dnak

Soon after taking office, Gov. Bruce Rauner set a goal of  cutting Illinois' prison population by a quarter over the next decade. But the current budget crisis has cut off funding for programs that could be key to meeting his target.  

Statehouse exit sign
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Sean Crawford talks to Tim Landis of The State Journal-Register about the latest census numbers, and Brian Mackey interviews economist Natalie Davila and tax policy consultant Mike Klemens about their unique analysis of migration in and out of Illinois.

Amanda Vinicky / Michael Madigan

An attempt to reach a deal on Governor Bruce Rauner's pro-business, anti-labor demands isn't working out for House Democrats, who are set to go it alone on a new state budget. That's the takeaway from a meeting between Rauner and the legislative leaders Wednesday morning.

Republicans -- led by Rauner -- say they won't increase taxes to balance the budget until they get fundamental economic changes.

To that end, bipartisan groups of legislators have been meeting in private on the governor's agenda.

It feels like Illinois is lost without a map these days.  The current quiet drive is trying to navigate the fog but has been slow moving as of late.  An additional $60,000 is needed to reach goal by next Tuesday (May 31).  If we're still short of our destination then, we'll go into OVERDRIVE June 1.  

  

  I am so appreciative for the Calendar Club members and other donors who support NPR Illinois.  I hear this sentiment from staff, members, and listeners.  It's what makes public radio special.

Amanda Vinicky

Unionized state employees worried about stalled contract talks could learn Wedneday whether there's hope for a work-around.

Last week, thousands of union members rallied in Springfield. They asked legislators to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a bill that would change how the state negotiates with labor. Wednesday they may see if it worked.

Democratic Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch says he plans to call the measure for a vote.

WUIS

The end of the month -- and a major deadline for getting a state budget passed -- is getting ever closer.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is standing firm. He says he'll agree to raising taxes, if Democrats agree with his pro-business, union-weakening agenda.

Lawmakers continue to negotiate those items in private.

Representative Dan Brady, a Republican from Bloomington, is part of the talks.

He says the issues are "tender."

Just who can use what bathroom has garnered headlines across the country. Illinois senators are calling for a ban on unnecessary government travel to two states with bathroom laws targeting transgender individuals.

Sarah Mueller WUIS

The group that wants Illinois to change the way it draws legislative boundaries has met another milestone to get the issue on the November ballot.

pumpkin pie
Jeff Hawkins / Flickr.com/hawkinsmultimedia

Gov. Bruce Rauner has lately been critical of efforts to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, saying it’s not “what matters” in Illinois government. Our reporter has been closely following the governor’s overall efforts to improve Illinois’ criminal justice system, and was struck by Rauner’s comments on pot. So he decided to talk to someone who can explain how decriminalization fits into that broader effort.

A new plan to fund public schools was filed yesterday. Its goal is to ensure that all school districts have 90 percent of the resources needed to provide a no-frills, meat-and-potatoes "adequate" education. It would also have the state pay teacher pensions in the Chicago Public School District (the state already pays pensions in all other districts).

SJ-R.com

Sean Crawford talks with Tim Landis, Business Editor of the State Journal-Register, for our weekly Business Report.

This week...

* Population: Reflecting statewide trends, Springfield-area population down slightly from 2010 to 2015; focus on keeping millennials here.

* Food-truck festivals: New one coming to Illinois fairgrounds in July; existing festival on MacArthur Boulevard adding a third date; it's apparently the hot new trend in Springfield.

Legislative Checklist

May 23, 2016
Chamber
Flickr user: Matt Turner

As the regular spring legislative session nears an end, lawmakers will be pushing to get their bills to the governor’s desk. You can keep track of proposals of note with the Legislative Checklist. 

capitol
Hannah Meisel/WUIS

Illinois' top political leaders remain divided. There are only eight days left for them to reach a budget deal.

It's crunch time for the General Assembly.

Amanda Vinicky

It's been a year since the state Supreme Court found Illinois' big pension law unconstitutional, and an attempt to get a new law passed is stalled.

Lawmakers' goal is to reduce the state's expenses for its vastly underfunded pensions.

The court says it's illegal to do it by reducing an employees' retirement benefits.

Senate President John Cullerton and Governor Bruce Rauner think they have a way around that.

Book Review: Graphic Novel The Shadow Hero

May 23, 2016
Benedictine University

In the 21st century comics come in every genre and from seemingly every country.  Growing up middle-class in Africa or searching for a vanished son in Iran, covering war zones in Bosnia or imagining the American civil rights movement through the eyes of a teenager, surviving cancer or domestic abuse – the writers and illustrators of the new graphic revolution cover the earth.  So when asked to recommend something new that’s worth reading, often I will suggest a trip to the Young Adult section of your local public library, where the Dewey decimal system has decreed that all comics and graphi

For more than a year, officials at the University of Illinois have been creating and polishing up a strategic plan meant to guide the institution for the next decade. And just as it was about to be approved last week, a student spoke up asking for a significant change.

“First, I really should say, I really don’t like the word diversity, and I don’t think we need to diversify.”


ilga.gov

A Springfield State Representative says he's not overly optimistic a full budget deal can be agreed to before the scheduled end of the legislature's spring session May 31.

Republican Tim Butler says 11 months into the budget impasse, some of the same obstacles remain.

The payoff for waiting at a driver's license facility?  Getting a new license.  Along with being legal to drive,  it allows you to use it for identification purposes, like boarding an airplane.   But changes are coming to the process here in Illinois.

flickr/dborman

There's no reason for the governor to further hold up partial funding for social services. That's the message from the Speaker of the Illinois House.

Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice / Kewanee

Even as Illinois loses a youth prison, it's gaining an adult correctional facility.

Illinois' Department of Juvenile Justice is going forward with plans to close the Illinois Youth Center at Kewanee.

Director Candice Jones said recruiting staff was difficult and national practices favor smaller regional facilities.  Plus, she'd said, most of the juvenile offenders sent there were from Cook County; it's better to house them nearer family.  

Kewanee's closer to Iowa than to Chicago.

Most adult prisoners come from Cook County and the surrounding area too.

npr.org

Illinois workers get an added bonus once they retire: They don't have to pay taxes on pension or Social Security checks. It's one possible change the state could look to as it hunts for more money.

Illinois is a rare state that taxes income on a regular paycheck, but not on retirement.

Fiscal experts like the non-partisan Civic Federation say as Illinois' population ages, and there are more seniors, the government will increasingly lose out on a source of revenue.

Thousands of union members rallied against Gov. Bruce Rauner's pro-business, anti-union agenda, and the legislative leaders met with the governor. But is Illinois any closer to ending the historic budget standoff? (Spoiler alert: No.)

The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority

A recent report calls attention to the need for more temporary housing for victims of domestic violence.

The report, produced by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, was an assessment of needs that could be used for determining the direction of federal funding for housing programs that deal with specifically with victims of intimate partner violence (IPV).

Wikimedia Commons/user: Bogdan

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is open to decriminalizing marijuana.

Rauner has a goal of reforming the criminal justice system. One way to do that, advocates say: issuing civil penalties for low-level drug charges.

ILGA.gov

Auditor General Frank Mautino is under federal investigation, according to a statement from his spokesman.

The spokesman says Mautino is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney's office. He says because it's ongoing, he cannot comment further.

It comes in response to a report in the Illinois Times that Mautino's former campaign workers have been subpoenaed.

Subpoenas don't always lead to charges.

Shannon O'Brien / University of Illinois at Springfield

It’s not often that students get to shape university policy, but that’s just what happened today at a meeting of the University of Illinois' Board of Trustees. Thanks to a change in the university’s strategic plan proposed by a student member of the U-I Board of Trustees, University of Illinois officials are being encouraged to think about race in a new way.

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