News

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Bill and Tim discuss the spring opening of Sky Zone in Springfield.    Also ridership down on Amtrak and update on a couple of construction projects on this week's business report.

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Muslims in Illinois are coping with increased scrutiny and incendiary rhetoric. We take you inside a local mosque and introduce you to a business owner in Champaign-Urbana during this two-part series.

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Campaign contributions to former Governor Rod Blagojevich may have sealed the fate for a pair of historic Illinois racetracks. But not if some state legislators have their way.

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NPR | Illinois Public Radio has been fortunate to be supported by listeners over the years enabling us to develop comprehensive converage of state government and politics.  Now NPR Illinois will grow further with the launch of a collaboration with other Illinois public media to increase coverage of education,  health/environment, and government. 

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University of Illinois Springfield police say an arrest was made over the weekend after threatening statements were posted on social media.  

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A fight over locker room access for a transgender student in a Chicago suburb has gained national attention. The agreement reached between one of the state’s largest school districts and the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights could have implications for the rest of the country too.

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Dr. Valerie Hoffman has taught about Islam and the Muslim faith for three decades. She teaches religion at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and has lived in the Middle East.

Office of the comptroller

Domestic violence shelters were one of the social service groups hardest hit by the budget impasse. But $18 million for those 62 shelter agencies was among funds released through legislation passed last week.

Comptroller Leslie Munger recently explained to NPR Illinois what that means for the shelters.

The measure passed last week ordered the release of $3.1 billion, which includes payments to local governments, 911 energy phone services and Lottery winners. Those payments can be made because independent state funds are dedicated to those services, Munger says.

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  Even with all of its fiscal troubles Illinois will have to put nearly $8 billion into its retirement systems next year -- that's a quarter of the state's expected revenue. Legislative leaders and the governor may finally be poised to begin talking about how they may be able to reduce costs.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

This week, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act --- a rewrite of No Child Left Behind. The new law, referred to as ESSA, passed with bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress.


It replaces the wildly unpopular law that's come to be known as No Child Left Untested. Educators are so enthusiastic about this rewrite, the heads of two Illinois teachers unions flew to Washington to witness its signing.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

For the past eight years, federal lawmakers have been debating No Child Left Behind — a measure that led to a reliance on standardized testing as a way to ensure that students were getting a good education.

During a speech in Chicago this week, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was asked about the prospects for new taxes, while Governor Bruce Rauner said that he expects the budget stalemate to continue into the spring.   Despite the budget impasse, an agreement was made to send some money owed to Illinois municipalities, as well as to the lottery and Secretary of State.  Matt Dietrich of RebootIllinois.com joins the panel.

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The city of Springfield is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a downtown panhandling ban after it was declared unconstitutional by a federal appeals court. 

Advisory Board Minutes

Dec 10, 2015

 

NPR Illinois Advisory Board Meeting
December 10, 2015

Attendees:

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mattpenning.com / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

A mother said she’d had it with her kids.  They whined.  They negotiated.  They wanted more and more, despite the fact their toy shelves were already burgeoning with un-used toys.

She resented their self-centeredness, so she decided to try a different strategy.

She called her rascals together, looked them squarely in the eye, and said very clearly that for the days leading up to Christmas, they were going to focus on giving instead of receiving.

Sarah Jane Rhee

In Illinois, thousands of African American men are released from prison each year. But, without support from government and community, many will go back. 

Will Clayton

The Illinois Constitution turns 45 on December 15. As the document reaches its birthday, Charlie Wheeler looks at the ways it modernized government. 

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Years of mismanagement led to the state’s current fiscal crisis. A recent report from the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) suggests changes to the budgeting process that could help prevent future disasters. 

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The state's largest public employee union remains at odds with Governor Rauner's administration on a new contract.  

Vachel Lindsay Association

Kevin Purcell is a well-known Illinois actor and director who helped co-found Over the Moon Productions. This weekend he will be performing a one-man show at the Hoogland: "A Child's Christmas in Wales." It's his reading of the well-loved story by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.

 He spoke with us about his rendition of it for this interview. We also spoke with Tim Schirmer who composed the music for the production:

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

This week we are joined by Kimberly Moore who is the founder of one of Springfield's longest-running poetry events, an open mic night called 'Expressions in the Dark.'

A year ago, Illinois' income tax rate fell by 25-percent. The top Democrat in the Illinois House is suggesting it go back up.

Voice of America News: Henry Ridgwell from the Turkish border by Aleppo

Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, is denouncing recent anti-Muslim statements from his party's front-runner for president, but he's sticking to his position on Syrian refugees, and he's even taking it a step further.

Rauner described Donald Trump's call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. as "an extreme action."

"What he's proposing is just fundamentally counter to American values," Rauner said Tuesday in response to reporters' questions. "I strongly, strongly disagree with candidate Trump."

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  So far, it seems no police officers have been disciplined for helping conceal the circumstances under which Chicago teenager Laquan McDonald was killed. Because of that, a group of black lawmakers say Illinois should consider licensing police.

flickr/Chad Elliott

Cash-strapped counties in Illinois are trying to call in old fines for offenses like speeding tickets. Some of their efforts have been criticized because the cases they are trying to collect on are two or three decades old.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

As college students wrap up the fall semester, there is still a lot of uncertainty for the coming months. Those low-income student who rely on the Monetary Award Program to pay for tuition have no guarantee the money will arrive. Most colleges and universities have been fronting the money for their students, but even the University of Illinois has warned MAP recipients they may have to repay their grants if the budget impasse drags on through the spring semester.


loc.gov

On this week's business report, Tim Landis talks with Bill Wheelhouse about some renovated apartments coming on the market in downtown Springfield.

Illinois Lottery

The Illinois Lottery will resume paying out big prizes, thanks to a partial budget just signed into law. But that won't be enough to end a class-action lawsuit.

The jackpot's been out of reach, even for Lottery players lucky enough to win $600 or more. Illinois suspended paying larger prizes; without a budget, it didn't have the legal authority.

When you get your drivers' license renewed, chances are you're going to a building that the state doesn't own; it leases. Due to the budget impasse, Illinois hasn't paid its rent checks, electric or water bills since July.

Dave Druker, with the Secretary of State, says while most have been patient, one landlord was close to kicking the state out, and a utility sent a shutoff notice.

"You know these are folks that are in business. And they've honorably entered into contracts with us -- leases, and we hope that they can be paid as soon as possible," Druker said.

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Money can now be released to local governments and community organizations that have been waiting for state funding since July. The Senate was in Springfield briefly Monday to approve the funding; within hours the governor had signed the plan into law.

An ideological, political feud between the governor and the Democrats who control Illinois' legislature has left the state without a budget.

But they've reach a minor agreement. Republicans had previously been against piecemeal budgets, but Governor Bruce Rauner says he was concerned about public safety.

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