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Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois Senate approved a big change to the way Illinois funds schools yesterday, but that doesn't ensure anything will change.

Trump by Michael Vadon/Flickr / Rauner by Brian Mackey/WUIS

Now that it seems Donald Trump will be his party’s nominee for president, Republicans have a decision to make.

Rep. Frank Mautino reviews a COGFA report.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino told lawmakers Tuesday he doesn't want people to question his integrity. But he declined to respond to questions about alleged misuse of campaign funds.

Illinois Republican lawmakers used a legislative audit hearing to continue pressuring Mautino on what his critics call excessive, and possibly unethical, spending listed in his campaign finance reports.

Mautino, who took office in January after years as a Democratic state representative, said he'll answer those questions on May 16 at a hearing with the State Board of Elections.

Amanda Vinicky moderated a City Club of Chicago conversation on the current state budget impasse featuring a panel with  Republican State Rep. Patti Bellock, Democratic State Sen. Daniel Biss,  Democratic State Sen. Andy Manar, and Republican State Rep. David McSweeny.   

flickr/picturesofmoney

Because of the lack of a budget, social services providers have not been getting paid for some of their work, even though they have contracts with state to continue providing these services. Some are now suing Illinois.

These organizations help the state's most vulnerable populations. But they are also businesses that have to make payroll, keep the lights on and balance their books for yearly audits. 

Senators Kimberly Lightford and William Delgado debate in the corridor of the statehouse
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

Should kids be allowed to skip standardized tests? In Illinois, children already have the right to refuse to take, for example, the PARCC test, associated with Common Core. Last year, the number of children who exercised that right amounted to 4.4 percent of eligible students statewide.

 

That may sound like an insignificant number, but consider this: The previous year, just one half of one percent of eligible students in Illinois opted out.

SJ-R.com

NPR Illinois' Sean Crawford talks with Tim Landis, Business Editor for the State Journal-Register.

American Heart Association

This is American Stroke Month.  It's a good time to review the signs of a stroke, signs that many people may not recognize.

fermentation.siu.edu

We all know beer is a popular beverage amongst many young people attending college. Starting in the fall, some Southern Illinois University Carbondale students will be majoring in it. We talk with Matt McCarroll about the Fermentation Science Institute there, and the bachelor's degree in fermentation science that will soon be offered:

Illinois Municipal League

Illinois cities want legislation that would give broad legal protections to government employees like first responders. It's a response to an Illinois Supreme Court decision in January.

Sarah Mueller WUIS

An Illinois citizens group on Friday moved a step forward in its aim to change the way the state draws legislative boundaries. The constitutional amendment its pushing would take the task of creating new maps from the state legislature and give it to an independent commission. But the proposal still faces hurdles to get on November's ballot.

U of I News Bureau

Traditional accounts of American history are sorely missing first-person narratives and retellings of stories belonging to gay, black men. So says Kevin Mumford, director of graduate studies and professor of history at the U of I at Urbana-Champaign. 

woman at Capitol with "People Not Politics" sign
Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Sixty four agencies are suing the state for $100 million. They've got contracts that say they're owed that money, but Illinois hasn't paid up: The funding is caught in the prolonged stalemate between lawmakers and the governor.

One of those agencies is the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

NPR Illinois' Amanda Vinicky spoke with its director -- Polly Poskin -- about the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed last week in Cook County.

Schools across the U.S. served more than 5 billion meals in the national school lunch program to millions of students last year. Each one of the meals has to meet federal rules for nutrition. Now, those rules are up for debate and Congress could impose changes on the cafeteria.

Rep. Frank Mautino reviews a COGFA report.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

  Republican lawmakers are piling the pressure on Illinois' Auditor General. They're pressing him to respond to allegations of improper campaign spending.

Legislators chose one of their own, former Democratic State Rep. Frank Mautino, to take over as the state's financial watchdog. He started in January.

Almost immediately, some came to regret that choice. Published reports detail what critics say appear to be excessive, unethical -- some say possibly illegal -- campaign finance reports.

wikimedia

Legislators have ratified an amendment to the Illinois constitution but it's up to voters whether the provision will be enshrined in state law.

Over the years, when lawmakers have been short on cash for state needs, they've dipped into funds that are supposed to pay for infrastructure.

The idea is to put an end to that practice.

The proposed constitutional amendment would put transportation funding in a figurative "lock box."

Doris Fogel lights one of six candles at the Holocaust Memorial Ceremony.
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week was Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah, when we mark the slaughter of millions of Jews, political dissidents, gays and others at the hands of the Nazis.

Illinois marks the occasion with an annual memorial service in the Old State Capitol. The event includes the recollections of a Holocaust survivor, and today we're going to hear one such story, from back in 2014.

A push to change Illinois' flat income tax into a graduated tax died on the vine this week. And Illinois Republicans have some difficult decisions to make now that Donald Trump appears to have won the party's presidential nomination.

Trump and Rauner
Trump by Michael Vadon/Flickr / Rauner by Brian Mackey/WUIS

A member of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration says the Republican governor will not endorse Donald Trump as the GOP standard-bearer in the November election.

WIUM

A $454 million bill to increase funding for financially struggling Illinois colleges and universities has cleared the state Senate. 

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

Forgive me a moment of bragging about my only grandson.

I visited Charlie a couple days after midterm grades were reported to parents. Charlie’s a pretty sharp guy and he especially shines in math.

Eager to hear about his progress, I asked about his grades. I noticed his parents' faces turn beet red as they exchanged a knowing glance.

"Charlie's in big trouble, Gam," remarked his concerned dad. "Tell her about math, Charlie."

With that, Charlie took a deep breath and confessed.  He had gotten a D in math.

springfieldchoralsociety.org

There will be a rare performance of Bach's Mass in B Minor in Springfield this Saturday. It's being performed by the Springfield Choral Society as part of the Liturgical Arts Festival of Springfield. Details regarding the time and location of the performance are in the flyer above. Marion van der Loo is the conductor of the group, she joined us to preview the event:

Ben Woloszyn

About eight years ago, Rebecca Ginsburg established the Education Justice Project -- a program that provides prisoners at the Danville Correctional Center with upper level college courses, workshops and other educational services. Ginsburg is a professor of education policy at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and today, she’s making her second visit to the White House to participate in a roundtable discussion on criminal justice reform.

Illinois Issues: A Schooling in Democracy

May 5, 2016
Chicago Public Schools Board of Education

State lawmakers are considering whether school board members in Chicago should be elected — as they are in all other Illinois school districts.

Income tax space on a Monopoly game board
StockMonkeys.com

Despite recent hype over the possibility of legislators putting questions on the November ballot to change the constitution, the Illinois House adjourned Wednesday without even voting on proposed amendments. Their lack of action means voters won't be asked whether they want to change how they're taxed.

flickr/jmorgan

A plan to move Illinois to a graduated income tax is dead. Wednesday was the final scheduled session day for lawmakers to advance it. Instead, the Illinois House adjourned without taking a vote.

Illinois' constitution only allows income to be taxed at a flat rate.

Rep. Christian Mitchell and other Democrats wanted to amend the constitution, so the state could charge the wealthy more. He says a package was carefully crafted, so that for most Illinois residents -- it'd lead to a tax cut.

You don't need to be a millionaire to make a million dollar difference in your community.

Whatever your stage in life, it is a good idea to think about and plan for how your affairs will be handled.  A few simple steps today can give you peace of mind tomorrow by ensuring that you and your loved ones are well protected.  Your estate plan can also be used to support charitable causes that matter most to you and your community.

When most people in the U.S. hear the word immigrant they probably think of someone coming to the country from Mexico. However in Illinois cities, like Champaign, there are growing populations of immigrants from African countries as well.

foggy playground
Allen / Flickr.com/roadsidepictures

On Monday, an organization called Illinois Voices sued the Illinois State Police and attorney general’s office. It’s targeting what it says are unconstitutionally vague and burdensome restrictions on people who have to register under the state’s sex offender laws.

The case is Does 1-4 v. Madigan, No. 16 CV 4847 (N.D. Ill.). Download the complaint here (PDF).

At East Alton-Wood River High School, as well in schools across the state, the measurement of academic improvement is based on a single test given over two days once a year. “It’s silly to measure a school’s performance by that,” says the Superintendent.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Yet again, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Governor Bruce Rauner are at odds. This time, over a constitutional amendment introduced by the Speaker. It may not matter -- the plan is dead if it doesn't advance Wednesday.

Above all else, Gov. Rauner, a Republican, says education comes first.

But apparently, he doesn't want to secure that with a constitutional guarantee.

His political foe, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan wants the constitution to say adequate education funding is a fundamental right.

Rauner isn't on board.

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