Courtesy of IBHE

Last anybody heard, Gov. Bruce Rauner wanted to cut higher education spending drastically, by more than 30 percent. But with the budget  stalled in the legislature, colleges have no idea how much money they’ll get.  

James Applegate, director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, says this kind of chaos costs money.

“This is an extremely inefficient way to run a shop,” he says.



A Chicago alderman has proposed a penny per ounce tax on sugary drinks in that city.  There is also an effort to make that happen statewide.

The heavily debated package is a point of contention among the candidates.

While the fight over the state’s budget got most of the attention, lawmakers did approve several bills during the regular legislative session. Democratic leaders put a hold on sending much of the legislation lawmakers approved to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk directly after the spring session ended. But as of press time, all of the bills on this list had been sent to the governor.

As white-nose syndrome continues to spread in Illinois, new research offers promise for combatting the fatal bat disease.

White-nose syndrome is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates it has killed at least 5.7 million to 6.7 million bats since it was first found in New York in 2006.

Social Media Users Press For Governor's Recall With Petitions

Aug 1, 2015
Rauner takes oath
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

A number of recall petitions from people dissatisfied with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner are circulating on social media platforms, but these efforts do not meet the legal requirements for recall in the state.

As of press time, the petition with the most support, posted on, has more than 9,000 signatures with a goal set at 600,000.

Merrill Cole, an English and literature professor at Western Illinois University, added his name to the petition. Cole says he is against the governor’s “entire agenda.” Rauner’s office declined to comment on the petitions.

Rita Crundwell showing a horse
American Quarter Horse Association

Illinois’ male public officials and politicians aren’t the only ones behaving badly. A recent study looked at the cases of 29 Illinois women involved in corrupt acts over a 25-year period.

That’s the number rounded up by graduate student Ryan Ceresola. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale published the study this June.

The destination for the planned Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum in Chicago has yet to be named. But right now an exhibit held by the Southside Hub of Production in Hyde Park offers a taste of what one can expect from the library.

This exhibit, curated by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign art education professor Jorge Lucero, aims to showcase the profound significance of the first African-American president, he says.

With essay titles like “We Can’t Breath,” a new book co-edited by an Illinois State University professor aims to combat “modern-day lynchings of black men such as Trayvon Martin, Eric Gardner and Michael Brown.’’

The Department of Education last year released the names of dozens of schools under investigation for poor handling of sexual assault cases. Two of those were in Illinois: the University of Chicago and Knox College in Galesburg.

The issue was on the radar of lawmakers. Late in the spring legislative session the House and Senate approved a bill to improve collegiate responses to campus sexual assault. The legislation was sent to the governor in June.

A pilot internship program for youth who age out of the foster care system would be designed in January, if approved by the governor.

The unpaid program, which aims to discourage youth homelessness, would operate for a two-year period before being assessed for long-term implementation, state Sen. Mattie Hunter, a Democrat from Chicago, says. The program would be offered to youth who’ve aged out of the system when they are 21 years old.

Photographs by Tony Wedick


One hundred miles west of Chicago lies Nachusa Grasslands, a 3,500-acre prairie restoration site.

The dry prairie, oak savannahs, grasslands and wetlands draw hundreds of different plant and animal species, including the endangered Blandings’ turtles and 180 different birds such as dickcissels and grasshopper and Henslow’s sparrows. The more than 700 plants include the state’s largest population of the federally threatened prairie bush clover, according to The Nature Conservancy.

Crime And Punishment

Aug 1, 2015

Dennis Hastert, former U.S. House Speaker from Illinois, in June pleaded not guilty to bank-related charges and lying to federal investigators about paying $3.5 million to hide alleged sexual misconduct.

The Yorkville Republican who was speaker for eight years, was a teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School from 1965 to 1981.


Aug 1, 2015

  Donald Stolworthy, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s choice to head the Illinois Department of Corrections, resigned from the position in May. Stolworthy had been on the job for just two months. Rauner’s office did not give a reason for his resignation. The governor named Gladyse Taylor acting director in June. Taylor has served as the department’s assistant director and as acting director of the department in 2010 under then-Gov. Pat Quinn. Rauner named Taylor to Illinois Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform earlier this year.

Auditor To Retire

Aug 1, 2015

William Holland, Illinois’ long-serving auditor general, announced recently that he will retire at the end of December.


Aug 1, 2015

Joseph Wright was selected by Gov. Bruce Rauner to run the state’s medical marijuana pilot program. Most recently, Wright served as Rauner’s assistant general counsel. In that role, he was liaison to the legal staff at the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and the Illinois Racing Board. He previously served as a law clerk at the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Posthumous Honor

Aug 1, 2015

Henry Gerber in Chicago in 1924 set up the country’s first chartered advocacy organization for gay rights — the Society for Human Rights. In June, Gerber’s Chicago home received designation as a National Historic Landmark, one of about 2,500 recognized.

The house is the second LGBT site in the nation to receive the historic site designation, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior. The first is the Stonewall Inn in New York City.

Claudia Quigg headshot / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

She grew up the most feminine of little ladies, preferring tea parties to softball, keeping her ruffled dresses pristine even during school recess.  I recently ran into this woman and seeing her took me aback.  Her hair up in a ponytail, she was wearing jeans and a hockey jersey.

It seems she’s the mom of three boys, ages 11, 13 and 15, all serious ice hockey players.  They share a passion for this sport that has their mom shivering on the ice in some cold arena three evenings each week and every weekend for much of the year.

The month of July has come and gone and there is still no agreement between the Legislature and Governor Rauner on a state budget for the current fiscal year.  Kent Redfield, emeritus professor of Political Science at UIS, joins the panel this week.

Hello friends. This week, Scott and I have decided to step back & reminisce over the birth and first months of this lil' venture. We both are wild about art &  culture in virtually all of its forms, and we know many of you are too!

flickr/Benjamin Goodger

It's been 30 years since Illinois' mandatory seatbelt law took effect.   The latest numbers estimate that 95 percent of the state's motorists are using their safety belts. The goal is to try to persuade that other five percent:

State Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn says males in their early 20's are primarily the ones who still don't buckle up.   


The National Park Service has added the 1840s-era Strawbridge-Shepherd House to its National Register of Historic Places. The Sangamon County home was restored by the Elijah Iles House Foundation and is located on the southern edge of the University of Illinois Springfield campus. It was officially listed on June, 8, 2015.

James Welt, who graduated from UIS in May with a master’s degree in history, led the effort to have the house added to the registry. He spent more than 200 hours researching and writing a proposal, which was submitted to the National Park Service.

Christopher Z. Mooney

You may be asking: How did Illinois get to this point?

Illinois Issues: The State's Climate Is Changing

Jul 30, 2015
Patty Sullivan / WUIS - Illinois Issues

Illinois'  future summers could be as hot as Texas.

Farm dog? Check.

Barn cats? Check.

Muddy work books lined up at the back door? Five checks.

We kick off our fourth season of “My Farm Roots” with the Renyer Family, five farm kids I had the pleasure of meeting last week.

Driving onto the Renyer farm, out in Nemaha County, Kan., I was struck by the many classic examples of a farm family. After being met by the family dog, a very sweet boy named Salty, I watched as the barn cats scattered and I met Leah coming out the back door, where the knee-high work boots were standing guard.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Governor Bruce Rauner and Illinois’ biggest state-employee union have agreed to a two-month contract extension.

The union, known as AFSCME, represents 38,000 men and women — a significant share of the state workforce.

Its contract expired on June 30, but the latest "tolling agreement" will keep workers on the job through at least the end of September.

Professor Maria Krysan
University Of Illinois At Chicago

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a major opinion on housing discrimination. It determined that violations of the federal 1968 Fair Housing Act could occur even if intent to discriminate is not shown.

Meanwhile, the federal Housing and Urban Development administration announced new regulations that clarify the expectations of the act, which aims to limit racial bias in housing. They demand that cities and towns across the country analyze housing patterns for signs of racial discrimination and report the findings.


The state fair in Springfield and the Du Quoin State Fair are scheduled to begin in August. But if there is no state budget in place, it's unclear how entertainment and vendors would be paid.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Last Friday night, I found myself back at a place I had visited several times before.  What was recently a since moved artist co-op on the corner of South Grand Avenue and Pasfield Street known as The Pharmacy is finding life as yet another incarnation. The bottom has become a tattoo parlor - the loft above is a new artist gallery and performance called The Studio. It's a collaborative effort of several creatives in the area. 


Gov. Bruce Rauner is moving ahead with plans to hold the Illinois State Fair next month, despite the fact that there is no budget in place to pay for it.