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Statehouse
3:09 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Illinois Lawmakers Adjourn For The Weekend

Credit WUIS

The Illinois Legislature has adjourned until Monday.  
The Senate wrapped up early Friday afternoon, shortly after the House completed its work for the week.  
Legislators in both chambers are scheduled to return to the Capitol on Monday for the final week of the spring session.  

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Budget FY15
2:39 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

"Doomsday" Budget Fails In House

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  The Illinois House overwhelmingly rejected a so-called "doomsday budget" Friday — one that does not rely on extending 2011's income tax hike. It would have imposed deep cuts across Illinois government.

It was the budget that few legislators — Democrat or Republican — actually wanted to pass. It would have slashed education and other government services.

But the budget did not pass. In fact, only five lawmakers voted for the stripped-down budget, including Rep. Fred Crespo, from Hoffman Estates.

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State Week
1:47 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Listen To State Week - May 23, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

No agreement so far on a state budget, while debate continues on whether or not to make the temporary state income tax permanent.

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Lincoln
8:45 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Effort To Mark Historic Trees At Oak Ridge Cemetery

Credit flickr/DavidWilson

You can take a "Spirited Stroll Into The Past" this Saturday afternoon at Oak Ridge Cemetery.  The Lincoln Monument Association has an event that is designed to raise funds to mark historic trees at the site.   

From 1-4 p.m.,  you can tour and hear about some of those trees, visit the newly renovated Lincoln's Tomb and hear the Springfield Municipal Band perform.  Ice cream and cake will be sold.
 

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Education funding
8:43 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Republicans Push School Funding Legislation To Prevent Underfunding

Credit Wikimedia Commons

  While the state's budget for next year is still in flux, Republicans in the Illinois Senate say they have a new plan that would fully fund public schools. They say it's something that would help schools now, unlike a competing Democratic proposal that's still building support.

Illinois has been shortchanging schools for several years. Instead of funding them at the full amount required by law, they've been cutting — it's at 89 percent this year. That's because mandatory spending on things like health care and pensions has been choking out other priorities.

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Statehouse
3:25 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Speaker Wants 'Millionaire Tax' Referendum

House Speaker Michael Madigan wants voters to weigh in on his so-called "millionaires' tax" at the November elections.

The referendum would ask if income greater than a million dollars should be taxed an additional three percent, with the money going to schools.

Earlier this year, Madigan tried to put this before voters as a constitutional amendment, but he says there wasn't enough support in the House.

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Retirement savings
3:18 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

House Advances Retirement Savings Legislation

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  The Illinois House is advancing legislation intended to get more people saving for retirement. Advocates say "nudging" workers into a savings program could help keep them out of poverty in retirement.

The so-called Secure Choice retirement savings program is an idea of the conservative Heritage Foundation. The plan would require all companies with more than 25 employees to automatically enroll workers in a state-supervised retirement program.

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Business
3:11 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Unemployment Falls In Springfield, Decatur

Credit Photo Credit http://www.innov8social.com @Innov8Social

Unemployment in the Springfield metro area last month dropped to its lowest level in 6 years.   The rate of 5.7 % is below both the state and national averages.   

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says the Springfield area added 2,000 jobs last month, mostly in construction, educational and health services and retail.

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Health Desk
3:11 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Schnucks Walnuts Recalled By FDA

Credit flickr.com/photos/fdaphotos

A St. Louis based produce distribution company is recalling walnuts that the FDA says may be contaminated.

Sherman Produce distributed 10 ounce packages to Schnucks Grocery Stores where they were sold under the store brand.  The FDA says that the walnuts could contain Listeria-which can cause fever, nausea and diarrhea.

Lori Willis, a spokeswoman for Schnucks, says the walnuts were sold a few weeks ago.   But Willis says the company takes the recall seriously.

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Statehouse
12:19 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Republican Leader: Latest Budget Moves 'Typical End-Of-Year Misdirection'

House Republican Leaders Jim Durkin says he thinks Democrats will round up enough votes to make the 5 percent income tax rate permanent.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  A day after House Democrats said they're unwilling to extend Illinois' higher income tax rate, government observers are trying to figure out what happens next. Top Democrats say they're moving forward on an austerity budget, but things in the Statehouse are rarely as clear as they seem.

House Speaker Michael Madigan took a closed-door poll of his Democratic lawmakers, and found just 34 of the 60 votes needed to make the current income tax rate permanent.

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Statehouse
1:46 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Budget Fight Moves From Taxes To Spending — For Now

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has called for permanently setting the state income tax rate at 5 percent.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Democrats in the Illinois House on Wednesday handed a significant defeat to Governor Pat Quinn. Fewer than half are willing to go along with his push to extend a higher income tax rate. That could mean significant cuts in state spending. Brian Mackey reports on how Democrats backed themselves into this corner, and where they go from here.

Quinn has for two months been asking lawmakers to make 2011’s temporary income tax hike permanent.

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Business
5:25 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Survey Finds Positive Economic Outlook In Sangamon County

Credit Flickr/JimParker

Sangamon County employers have a positive outlook about the economy.  The University of Illinois Springfield Survey Research Office polls businesspeople twice a year for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. 

This spring's results mark the first time since 2012 that expectations were as high.   However, just over half of  those responding expected employment to stay the same in the county in the next year.     

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Statehouse
4:49 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Governor's Tax Plan Fails Among House Democrats

House Speaker Michael Madigan is seen in this December 2013 file photo.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers are going back to the drawing board on a state spending plan. Although Gov. Pat Quinn and top Democrats have been pushing for an extension of a higher income tax rate, House Speaker Michael Madigan says there isn't enough support for that.

  With Republicans uniformly opposed to keeping Illinois income tax rate at 5 percent -- instead of letting it drop as scheduled at the end of the year — both Quinn and Madigan have been working to get 60 Democratic members of the House on board.

Then, on Wednesday afternoon, House Democrats met behind closed doors.

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Statehouse
3:22 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Medical Marijuana In Illinois Could Be Available By Beginning Of 2015

A panel from the Illinois Department of Public Health takes questions.
Credit WUIS/Lee Strubinger

Officials say dispensaries in Illinois could start providing medical marijuana early next year . Prospective patients say that's not soon enough.

At a public hearing in Springfield, those seeking marijuana for medical needs argued the rule making process needs to speed up.   Illinois lawmakers voted last year to allow cannabis for certain health conditions.  Since then, the state has been planning how the program will work.
Robert Morgan, an attorney with the Illinois Department of Public Health, says the agency wants to get it right.

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Attorney General's Race
2:24 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

GOP Attorney General Candidate: Lisa Madigan Too Loyal To Democrats

GOP candidate for Attorney General Paul Schimpf (right) flanked by Illinois GOP top brass House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs). Schimpf says current Attorney General Lisa Madigan has too much Democratic party loyalty to pursue corruption in the state.
Credit Tony Arnold/WBEZ

  The Repubican Party’s longshot candidate for Illinois attorney general is throwing punches at the incumbent Democrat, Lisa Madigan. Paul Schimpf says Madigan is a political insider incapable of going after corruption.

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Arts
11:09 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Amy LaVere at Bedrock 66 Friday Night

Amy LaVere at Donnie's Homespun Friday night. Part of the WUIS Bedrock 66 Live! series.
Credit amylavere.com

After making a name for herself in Memphis,  Texas native Amy LaVere comes to the WUIS Bedrock Stage this Friday Night.   She is appearing jointly with John Paul Keith and presenting their side project "Motel Mirrors".   From K-U-T in Austin.. David Brown talked with LaVere.

Amy LaVere along with John Paul Keith at Friday night's Bedrock show at Donnie's Homespun on Cook Street in Springfield.    The show starts at eight. Tickets available at bedrock66.com.     Tickets are $12 dollars.

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Statehouse
10:52 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Judge Denies Lawmaker's Request To Delay Trial

Credit ilga.gov

A federal judge won't postpone an Illinois lawmaker's bribery
trial so he can finish out the legislative session in Springfield.

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Education Desk
7:00 am
Wed May 21, 2014

School Funding Discussion WUIS Education Desk

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

The way schools are funded in Illinois has been getting a lot of attention lately.  The WUIS Education Desk presents a discussion entitled "Transforming Our Schools:  A Panel On Education Funding" held recently in Decatur.   The panel includes State Senator Andy Manar, Warrensburg-Latham Superintendent Kristen Kendrick, Decatur Public Schools Director of Business Affairs Todd Covault, Center for Tax & Budget Accountability Director Ralph Martire and moderators Brian Byers of WSOY & Bill Wheelhouse, WUIS. The event was coordinated with the Education Coalition of Macon County.

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Regional
6:18 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Pike County Sheriff Enters NOT Guilty Plea

Pike County Courthouse
Credit Pike County

The Pike County sheriff has pleaded not guilty to a felony misconduct charge after prosecutors say he botched the 2012 death investigation of a woman who overdosed on heroin.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports Pike County Sheriff Paul Petty's attorney filed a motion Monday to dismiss the case or appoint a special state's attorney.

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Regional
9:58 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Springfield Council Sets Ward Boundaries

Credit WUIS/Lee Strubinger

The political boundaries for Springfield aldermen have been set.  The city council approved a new ward map last night on a 9-1 vote.  It will take into account census data.  The map design also was done to ensure an African American represents Ward 2.  

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Business
4:54 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Business Report: Esquire Theater Future, Ross Isaac Closes And Joe Rogers' Chili To Re-Open

The Esquire Theater in Springfield
Credit CinemaTreasures.org/Norman Plant

Tim Landis, Business Editor of the State Journal-Register, joins WUIS' Sean Crawford for this week's business report.

They discuss how the clock is ticking for the former Esquire Theatre property at MacArthur Boulevard and South Grand Avenue, news involving a pair of restaurants and a court weighs in on Ameren's big project for a transmission line across central Illinois.  

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Statehouse
4:49 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Rauner Wades Deeper Into Tax Debate, But Offers No Budget Plan

Bruce Rauner is robo-calling voters in seven House districts he says are key to the income tax debate.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is wading deeper into the debate over whether Illinois ought to extend a higher income tax rate. He's still refusing to say how he would manage the state budget.

The Rauner campaign says it's making robo-calls to voters in seven House districts. These are key Democrats in the budget debate — most have previously taken positions against the higher tax rate.

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Illinois High School Association
4:15 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Lawmakers Call For Transparency From IHSA

  The organization that coordinates Illinois high school sports and activities was under scrutiny Tuesday in Springfield. Lawmakers want the Illinois High School Association to be more transparent, but the not-for-profit group is pushing back.

While Illinois high schools are not required to become IHSA members, the organization does run the major statewide competitions.

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Statehouse
2:23 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Republicans: Ask Voters About Income Tax

Credit wikimedia

The question of whether to extend Illinois' temporary income tax increase has dominated the spring legislative session. On Tuesday, Republicans said the question ought to be put to voters this fall.

Illinois voters will face a long list of referenda on the November ballot: on voting rights and crime victims rights, and possibly the minimum wage, term limits for lawmakers and legislative district map-making.

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Statehouse
11:27 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Quinn Pitches Tax Plan To House Democrats

Gov. Pat Quinn speaks with reporters Monday in the Capitol after meeting with House Democrats for more than two-and-a-half hours.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov. Pat Quinn appealed directly to Democrats in the Illinois House Monday evening. He’s struggling to win support for his plan to extend Illinois’ higher income tax rate.

The governor appeared at a closed meeting of the Illinois House Democratic caucus.

Quinn is trying to win the support of the 60 Democrats required to make Illinois’ 5 percent income-tax rate permanent — instead of letting it decline by more than a percentage point as scheduled at the end of the year. Quinn warns without the higher tax rate, there will have to be drastic cuts in state services.

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Sports
8:45 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

UIS Announces First Athletics Hall Of Fame Class

The SSU Prairie Stars soccer team of 1986-87 won the NAIA national championship, and went on to defeat powerful UCLA in the World Collegiate Championship. There they placed second in the world, after losing to the University College of Dublin, 1-0.
Credit library.uis.edu

UIS has a new Athletics Hall of Fame and the first class of inductees have been announced.   The inaugural class includes longtime Athletic Director and soccer coach Aydin Gonulsen.  

His 1986 NAIA National Champion men's soccer team was also selected.  Gonulsen also had two other national titles at UIS.  

Other inductees include soccer player Elias Shehadi, tennis player Carla Mills and Harold Christofilakos, a friend of the Prairie Stars who was a charter member of the school's booster club.    

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Health Desk
5:23 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Mumps Case Involving District 186 Employee

Credit District 186

Springfield District 186 says an employee had a confirmed case of mumps.  The district was notified late Friday.  Officials say the employee had NOT been in contact with any students during the time of being contagious.  

The employee has not been identified, nor the location where they work.  Staff who were in contact with the individual have been notified.

District 186 says a majority of students have received the mumps vaccine.  It says if mumps are confirmed in a school, parents of those kids without immunizations would be notified.  

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Regional
4:16 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Illinois Supreme Court Reprimands Springfield Alderman

Credit springfield.il.us

Springfield attorney and Ward 5 alderman Sam Cahnman has received a censure from the Illinois Supreme Court.

The move follows a recommendation the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission made last year.  The Commission says Cahnman intentionally misled an Associate Circuit Judge about how he gained possession of a page from the judge's private calendar.  Cahnman has denied that charge.    

James Grogan is with the Commission.  He says Illinois' high court issues a censure when there has been a violation of the lawyer's ethics code.

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Statehouse
3:17 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Rauner Blasts House Democrats On Budget Process

Bruce Rauner
Credit WUIS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is criticizing House Democrats for adopting budget measures without an approved plan to pay for them.  

Rauner talked to reporters in Northbrook Monday as Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn was set to meet with lawmakers in Springfield. The Chicago Sun-Times reports Rauner calls this year's budget process ``playing political games'' and ``showing a lack of leadership''  
 Last week, the House approved budget measures contingent on an income tax increase extension. It rolls back in January, creating a $1.8 billion hole.  

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Heroin use in Illinois
2:04 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Heroin Task Force To Target Drug's Use Through Legislation

Credit Wikimedia commons

  Heroin use has surged in Illinois, especially in the collar counties around Chicago. State officials are considering whether new laws are needed to stop the spread of heroin and treat addiction more effectively.

The state's heroin task force met in Springfield to hear testimony from experts on addiction.

Dr. Daniel Angres, a psychiatrist with suburban-based Presence Health, says heroin use has become more prolific because the stigma has faded.

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