News

Pages

Statehouse
4:04 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Big Revenue Drop If Income Tax Rate Falls

Rep. John Bradley
Credit housedem.state.il.us

Illinois lawmakers are beginning to confront the huge hole expected in next year's state budget.
The temporary income tax increase of a few years ago is set to roll back at the end of this year. Lawmakers are being told Illinois will have $1.58 billion less to spend next year.

"The budget is going to be one of the, if not the big issue, as it generally is," said Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion).

Bradley is chairman of the House Revenue Committee.

Read more
Statehouse
3:59 am
Wed February 5, 2014

Illinois House GOP Wants To Restrict Lame Duck Sessions

Retiring Rep. Kay Hatcher says she's astounded how often people tell her it's okay to vote for bill because she isn't running.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Republican members of the Illinois House are trying to head off a post-election tradition... taking up  controversial legislation when it's too late for voters to do anything about it. 

Rewind to January, 2011.
Newly-elected members to the General Assembly were about to be sworn in.  But before the turnover, the old General Assembly took a few final votes.  Support from retiring legislators and those who'd lost their elections helped pass laws, like one that abolished the death penalty, and another that increased Illinois' income tax.

Read more
Harvest Desk
3:37 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

U.S. Senate Approves Farm Bill

After more than two years of debate on Capitol Hill, a new farm bill is poised to become law after both the U.S. House and Senate approved it.
Credit andrewmalone/Flickr

The U.S. Senate passed the farm bill Tuesday by a vote of 68-32, sending it to the president’s desk and ending years of political wrangling.

Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk were among the 68 "yea" votes.  To view Durbin's video statement on the farm bill vote, click here.

Read more
Regional
2:34 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Springfield's Road Salt Supply Runs Low

Credit springfield.il.us

It's been a hard winter for area residents.  Governmental agencies in charge of keeping streets cleared of snow and ice have also felt the impact.

In Springfield, Public Works Director Mark Mahoney calls it a return to normal.

"In some ways, we've got a little bit spoiled. The last couple of winters have been very mild.  Over the past several years, we haven't had the type of winters we had a few decades ago," he said.   

Read more
Regional
11:57 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Weather Cancellations

Schools Closed Thursday

A-C Central

Auburn

Ball Chatham Schools

Capital Area Career Center

Jacksonville Public Schools

Jacksonville Routt

Lincoln Public Schools

New Berlin

North Mac

Pawnee

Pleasant Plains

PORTA

Riverton

Rochester

Sangamon Valley

Sacred Heart Griffin

Springfield Catholic Grade Schools

Springfield Christian School

Springfield District 186

Tri City

Waverly

Williamsville

Read more
Gambling
5:23 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Video Gaming Pays Off For Local Towns And Businesses

Credit flickr/roundnoon

If proceeds from video gaming were a coconut cream pie, Illinois municipalities would only get a taste. But if you added up those nibbles every month, it may be enough to notice an increasing waistline.

In December alone, Illinois municipalities that offer video gaming shared $1.8 million.

Video gaming machines starting spewing out the green in the fall of 2012. Illinois started with a few hundred gaming terminals. By the end of last year, there were more than 13,000 terminals in the state.

Read more
Harvest Desk
7:13 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Colorado Creates Food Safety System For Marijuana Products

A marijuana plant glows purple under grow lights at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, Colo.
Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media

Colorado made history when it opened up licensed marijuana retail shops this year. Aside from just legalizing the purchase of smoke-able marijuana, it also means pot brownies have the potential to be big business. Food products infused with marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, THC, are available in stores across the state.

Read more
Election 2014
5:34 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Treasurer Employee Resigns, Citing Sexual Harassment

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford on Monday denied allegations of harassment at a meeting of the Chicago Tribune editorial board.
Credit Chicago Tribune via YouTube

A man who says he was a victim of sexual harassment by Treasurer Dan Rutherford has submitted a letter of resignation.

The man, who does not want to be identified, submitted the letter Monday, but did not release a copy of it.

The alleged victim describes unwanted advances by Treasurer Rutherford, and accuses him of trying to force state employees to work on behalf of his campaign for governor.

Read more
Statehouse
4:43 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Gov. Quinn Wants To Delay Budget Address

Credit Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Pat Quinn has asked for more time before he delivers his budget address in part to prepare a five-year spending blueprint.  
Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said Monday that the governor would like to delay his annual budget speech from Feb. 19 to March 26.

Read more
Higher Ed
2:39 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

IBHE Requests Level Funding

Harry Berman
Credit uis.edu

The Illinois Board of Higher Education will recommend at its meeting tomorrow that Governor Quinn at least keep state funding for colleges and universities level for the coming fiscal year.

The board is putting out a number of funding options for the governor's office to consider. The first one, and the one likely to be the most realistic, calls for the same funding amount as the current year. However Harry Berman, the board's Executive Director, says, "An increase in funding for higher education is justified, would be warranted, and in the long run would be beneficial."

Read more
Harvest Desk
10:57 am
Mon February 3, 2014

What Weather Will 2014 Bring?

Still plenty of uncertainty about the 2014 planting season, though the latest drought outlook paints a bleak picture for sections of the Great Plains.
Credit Climate Prediction Center/NOAA

  What you call “crazy weather,” Colorado state climatologist Nolan Doesken calls “climate variability.”

Read more
Regional
9:59 am
Mon February 3, 2014

How Efficient Can Government Be?

Norm Sims

Last month, a local panel put together a list of recommendations designed to make Sangamon County governmental units work better and, in some cases, save money.  Voters helped create the Citizens' Efficiency Commission of Sangamon County through an earlier referendum.  They have another chance to keep the effort going in the March election.

Read more
Quinn Proposes Drastic Dip in Filing Fee
6:05 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Businesses: LLC Fee Drop A Drop In The Bucket

Credit Amanda Vinicky

  There are more than 200,000 limited liability corporations operating in Illinois. The governor has a proposal he says will add more. But business groups are skeptical it will help.

To file as an LLC in Illinois, you have to pay the state at least $500.

During his state of the state address, Gov. Pat Quinn proposed lowering the fee to $39.

"This small but important step will encourage entrepreneurs to start their business and put more people to work right here in Illinois," Quinn, a Democrat, said.

Read more
Harvest Desk
5:00 am
Mon February 3, 2014

For Farmers With High Cash Rents, 2014 Could Be A Tough Year

Cash rents for non-irrigated cropland are highest in the Corn Belt
USDA NASS

With the price of farmland at record levels across the Corn Belt, many farmers have been renting acres to plant. Now, with the price of corn and soybeans in free fall, farmers that depend on renting risk big losses if they’re unable to negotiate lower rents.

Read more
Illinois gets high marks on traffic safety
4:46 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Illinois Ranks First In Highway Safety, Helmet Laws Aside

Credit flickr/theeggplant

  Illinois ranks first in a nationwide study surveying traffic safety laws. The new report card by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety gave Illinois’ collection of traffic laws a very high grade with just one caveat: llinois does not require motorcycle riders to wear a helmet.

Jackie Gillan, president of the lobbying group, says this is the biggest factor precluding Illinois from a higher grade.

Read more
State Week
4:12 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Listen To State Week - January 31, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, a discussion of Governor Pat Quinn's State of the State address.

Read more
The Legacy
3:22 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Last Chance To See Hedwig And The Angry Inch’s Gender-Bending Rock

Patrick Russell as Hedwig. Photo by John Muchow of Muchow Photography.

(We're revisiting this year-old interview since the musical has made a return. Friday and Saturday are the final performances at The Legacy Theatre in Springfield. Tickets here.)

Read more
Education
2:59 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Unclear How Quinn Will Pay For Early Education

Senator Pamela J. Althoff

Governor Pat Quinn says expanding Illinois' early childhood education programs should be one of the state's top priorities, but he hasn't detailed how to pay for them. Some lawmakers say Quinn's  "Birth to Five'' initiative's success is tied to the ongoing tax and spend debate that's expected to dominate this year's legislative agenda. 

Read more
Sports
1:38 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Company Tied To Rams Owner Buys L.A. Land

Credit pasa47

A company tied to St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke has purchased a prime piece of land in Los Angeles amid speculation the NFL franchise is considering a return to the city it left for the Midwest nearly two decades ago.  

Team officials on Friday provided a written statement confirming the recent purchase of a 60-acre site near the Forum indoor arena in Inglewood, Calif. The statement from Kroenke's corporate side said no decision has been made and ``we will look at all our options'' with the land. The Los Angeles Times first reported the purchase.  

Read more
Election 2014
11:48 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Rutherford: Political Rival Behind Allegations

Dan Rutherford
Credit DanRutherford.org

An attorney for an employee in state Treasurer Dan Rutherford's office says her client has filed ``serious'' and ``troubling'' allegations against him with a state inspector general.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports Christine Svenson says in a statement Friday (http://bit.ly/1ii627y) that the claims have nothing to do with politics.  

Rutherford is seeking the Republican nomination for governor. At a news conference earlier Friday, he accused rival candidate Bruce Rauner of being behind the allegations.  

Read more
Arts
10:52 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Guest Conductor For Illinois Chamber Orchestra

Nicolas McGegan
Credit Steve Sherman

The Illinois Chamber Orchestra welcomes a guest conductor for Friday night's performance in Springfield.   Nicolas McGegan will lead a program of 18th century music at St. Agnes Church.  It begins at 7:30 p.m. and will feature works of Haydn, Scarlatti, Bach and Telemann.

McGegan has been music director for the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco for three decades.  As both a conductor and soloist, he has made over 100 recordings.

Read more
Statehouse
10:15 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Tradition of State of the State

Credit en.wikipedia.org

Something notable was missing from Governor Pat Quinn’s State of the State address this week: talk about Illinois’ finances.  Presumably that’ll come when he gives his budget address next month.  This got me wondering: why not have just one speech?

Like Quinn, Senator John Sullivan of Rushville is a Democrat.  Still, he says the State of the State speech was lacking detail, and it left him wondering what will happen to the state's budget.

Read more
Corporate tax breaks
2:50 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Madigan Proposes Corporate Tax Decrease

  House Speaker Michael Madigan wants to cut the state's corporate tax rate in half. It's an apparent about face on tax policy that's left some Republicans scratching their heads.

Madigan says his proposal aims to create a friendlier business climate in Illinois. Corporations would pay a 3.5 percent tax, down from the current 7 percent.

It's a sharp turn from three years ago when Madigan pushed to increase the corporate tax rate along with the individual income tax.

Read more
UIS Visual Arts Gallery
9:27 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Artist Explores IL Environmental History & Hopes To Change Its Future

 Kevin Veara’s interests and passions may seem a bit unrelated. From wildlife preservation, to tattoos, to bird-watching and painting. Lately he’s been working to restore the presence of wildlife – on his own property and through his art. His work is on display at the UIS Visual Arts Gallery and there’s an opening reception tonight there from 5:30 to 8. WUIS’ Rachel Otwell recently spoke with Veara:

Read more
Poverty
8:17 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Illinois Poverty Remains Stubbornly High

Credit Georgetown University

A new study finds Illinois' overall poverty rate is about the same as it was a half century ago.  

The report released Thursday by the Chicago-based Social IMPACT Research Center says almost 15 percent of Illinois residents lived below the federal poverty line in 2012, about the same percentage as in 1960.  

That's despite scores of state and federal aid programs and a dramatic drop in the number of older people in poverty.  

Poverty has increased among working-age men and women, and 1 in 5 children are in poverty. It's highest among blacks and Latinos.  

Read more
State of the State
6:00 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Quinn Proposes Modest Agenda; Republicans Warn of Cost

Gov. Pat Quinn speaks with reporters in this file photo.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn delivered his sixth State of the State address Wednesday. As Brian Mackey reports, Quinn's speech was pretty much what you'd expect from a man fighting to keep his job despite some of the lowest approval ratings of any governor in America.

Quinn laid out a list of proposals that seem finely honed to appeal to Democratic voters: increasing the minimum wage, doubling a tax credit for the working poor, and requiring at least two days of sick time for all employees.

Read more
General Assembly Calendar
7:28 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Lawmakers' Light Spring Calendar Allows For Campaigning

  Legislators will descend on the capital city Wednesday, to hear the governor's annual state-of-the-state address. It's the first day they'll be in Springfield this year.

The General Assembly had a jam-packed 2013. It started with new members being sworn into office, and ended with new laws legalizing same-sex marriage and overhauling state pensions.

Read more
Another pension lawsuit
7:15 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Union Conglomerate Files Pension Lawsuit

Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  A coalition of labor unions has called Illinois' new pension law "theft." Now they've filed a lawsuit. It comes a day before Governor Pat Quinn is expected to herald the law in his State of the State address.

Read more
State of the State
7:00 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

State Of The State: Many Promises, No Funding Plan

Gov. Pat Quinn
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  A hike in the minimum wage, sending more children to preschool and more grants for low-income college students are all part of the agenda Governor Pat Quinn laid out Wednesday in his State of the State address. But critics are already calling it fantasy.

Five years to the day after he first became governor, Pat Quinn tried to make the case that Illinois is "making a comeback."

Read more
Propane Availability Shortage Drives Up Cost
6:49 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Lawmakers Aim To Ease Propane Cost In Cold Winter

Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon)
Credit ilga.gov

  The polar vortex returned to the Midwest this week, with frigid temperatures making it difficult for Illinoisans to keep their houses warm. Winter has been especially harsh for people who heat with propane, which has seen a near four-fold price increase in the wake of a regional shortage.

State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) says the cost of propane is forcing families to make difficult decisions.

Read more

Pages