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Jacksonville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

A longtime festival in Jacksonville has come to an end.

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

The sun was setting and the snow was falling as we scampered to our car.   Jane’s wide eyes took in the flurry of snowflakes framed by the pink late afternoon sky.  Head back, mouth open—she giggled as she caught flakes on her tongue.  A sense of wonder took my breath away as I tucked away another memory.

There was nothing extraordinary about the event.  It was just another day as we scurried from one place to the next.  But for once, I had my wits about me enough to realize this was a moment I wanted to remember.  

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner endorsed the work of his criminal justice commission Thursday. He also made an unusual statement on prisons.

Commissioners are still working to reach Rauner’s goal of reducing Illinois' inmate population by 12,000 men and women over the next decade. They have delivered their first set of recommendations, and Rauner told commissioners he was excited about the report, calling it "excellent."

"What I can guarantee you: I will work tirelessly to make sure this isn't just something that just gathers dust," he said. "I’m going to implement this."

Bill Wheelhouse is retiring after over 20 years at NPR Illinois. 

press conference
Dusty Rhodes / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

Legislation filed Wednesday asks the state to provide $168 million owed to low-income college students who were promised MAP grants last fall.

Flickr user: Dean Hochman

Lawmakers return to Springfield with some new ideas, but the unfinished business of 2015 will likely overshadow other topics in the second year of the legislative session. 


Chicago's million-dollar blocks
chicagosmilliondollarblocks.com

State of the State Podcast:
A New Way To Think About 'High-Crime' Neighborhoods

Several Democratic lawmakers want to make it simpler for more than 2 million Illinois residents to sign up to vote.


A Chicago-area lawmaker has been pushing for a measure that would allow the city's mayor to be recalled. Now come efforts to take it a step further.

Illinois allows recall of elected officials -- or one of them anyway. It's a cumbersome process that only applies to the governor. Voters approved that in 2010 after the Rod Blagojevich scandal.

New proposals include one that would only apply to Chicago's mayor. A lawmaker introduced it following an uproar over Mayor Rahm Emanuel's handling of the delayed video release of a black teen repeatedly shot by a police officer.

wuis

 Gov. Bruce Rauner says his team is trying to assess its options after an apparent breakdown in talks with AFSCME last week. The union is bargaining on behalf of 36 thousand state workers for a new contract.

There's an impasse over whether there's an impasse. In this case, that's not just a synonym for "not going well." It's a high-stakes legal term, that basically signals the gulf that divides the two sides is so wide it can't be bridged, so there's no point to negotiating further.

Rauner says after a year and 67 bargaining sessions, he's seen no progress with AFSCME.

Springfield Wants State To Pay Utility Bill

Jan 12, 2016

The city of Springfield is pushing for the state of Illinois to pay its electric bill.

wikipedia

Gov. Bruce Rauner says passage of his pro-business Turnaround Agenda would help to curb violence in Chicago. Rauner recently said he's "disappointed" in how the Mayor Rahm Emanuel has handled the outcry over video of a police officer killing Laquan McDonald, a black teenager.

Your driver's license will suffice to get through airport security for another couple of years, even though Illinois doesn't meet federal guidelines under the REAL ID Act. Here's what Illinois needs to change if it's to comply.

Sarah Mueller

Tuesday, Jan. 12 marks Bruce Rauner's first anniversary holding the title "Illinois Governor."

The U.S. may be on the verge of a boom in new fertilizer plants, which could be good news for farmers, but not the environment.

I am not unique in that I am a huge David Bowie fan. So while I could probably muster up a remembrance about how he spoke to me as someone who saw herself as a weird kid - I will spare you. There are plenty of those to read. What I can't seem to get my mind around however, is that now - more than I ever noticed in his life - people are saying Bowie had a "problematic" past.

mrlib.org

Tim and Bill chat about the recent spate of business closings downtown & elsewhere.

Illinois Student Assistance Commission

When a police officer, firefighter or prison guard is killed or disabled in the line of duty, the state promises to provide their dependents with a college education. But the budget impasse has put that promise on hold, says Eric Zarnikow, director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

afscme31.org

Some 36,000 state employees are members of AFSCME, Illinois' largest public employee union. Friday afternoon, the union announced that Gov. Bruce Rauner made a push to walk away from contract talks.


WUIS

More than 30-thousand state employees are members of AFSCME, Illinois' largest public employee union. Today, the union says Governor Bruce Rauner has walked away from contract talks.

Governor Bruce Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel escalated their war of words this week, with Rauner saying that before he'll help the Chicago public schools he expects Emanuel to agree to his pro-business agenda.  Mike Riopell, political editor for the Daily Herald, joins the panel.

Fuel: It's What's For Dinner

Jan 8, 2016

There are few places where the connection between energy and food is more obvious than at the Bright Agrotech warehouse in Laramie, Wyo.

Creative Commons

It's a week into the New Year, and gyms across the country are packed with people who've vowed to get in shape. Our Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky had resolved to be one of them, but admits that already, she's fallen short. Maybe Illinois' leaders will have better luck. Vinicky asked around for their civic-minded resolutions.

No matter your political persuasion, given the stalemate that's gripping the state, we can all agree that Illinois could use some self-improvements.

flickr/401(K) 2012

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget office released three-year budget projections today. According to the estimate, if Illinois remains on its current fiscal path, the sate’s backlog of unpaid bills would swell to nearly $25 billion by Fiscal Year 2019.

If that were to happen, the backlog would be equal to nearly three quarters of the state’s operating funds.

Illinois State Board of Education

State funding for public schools has remained stagnant or decreased for the past five years. Districts with low property values have no way to supplement that aid, leaving Illinois with one of the most inequitable funding scenarios in the nation.

But a plan approved by the State Board of Education on Wednesday would increase state funding to all but the wealthiest districts, by shifting about $300 million from special education into the general school funding formula. 

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Most experts say the governor’s target of a 25 percent reduction in the state's prison population can't be met by simply backing off the war on drugs. Instead, policymakers will have to look beyond the "nons” — nonviolent, nonserious and nonsexual offenders — and in so doing, challenge entrenched attitudes about crime and justice. 

flickr/ Photo Monkey

The monthly Flash Index provides a snapshot of the Illinois economy. In December, that picture showed the slowest economic growth the state has seen since March of 2013.

flickr/DennisCarr

Residents who have experienced flooding are being warned to watch out for those trying to take advantage.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

It's time to learn about what's the haps. This week, we get to know a local fixture in the Springfield scene. Scott Richardson heads the Legacy Theatre - a building that has had many incarnations and could have dilapidated into the ether if not for Scott. Now it's one of Springfield's most eclectic venues. He talks the 2016 season with Rachel and (other) Scott.

Events discussed this week include:

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