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Pew Research Center

  The middle class is no longer the nation’s economic majority. That is according to last week’s Pew Research Center analysis of government data, and a local economist says the trends for the nation are likely duplicated in Illinois.

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Jeremy Brooks / via Flickr.com/jeremybrooks

Even though much of Illinois government is operating without a budget, the state is still looking to spend money. Right now, on Illinois’ procurement website, there are dozens of notices. Reporter Kurt Erickson returns to State of the State for a procurement primer.

TRANSCRIPT: From NPR Illinois, it’s State of the State. I’m Brian Mackey, and the state of the state today is on a buying spree.

SOUNDBITE: "And they ran out of hot dog spice, or wiener spice, as I called it. And they had to go out and try to find some and emergency purchase."

Wednesday is the first day on the job for the new Director of Downtown Springfield Incorporated.  Stott sat down with Bill Wheelhouse and talked about her plans and challenges ahead.

In the past, DSI funded itself through a couple of major downtown festivals each summer.  Stott says that may have to change:

Evalyn Sanguinetti at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

The finishing touches are going on a plan to streamline local government costs.

One of Gov. Bruce Rauner's controversial ideas, is to give local governments the option to discontinue collective bargaining. That's something state law requires now.

The task force chaired by Rauner's lieutenant governor, Evelyn Sanguinetti has embraced the idea.

By the end of this year, Sanguinetti says the group will have a report published, with that and other recommendations for finding mandates that can be done away with, room for government consolidation, and cutting costs.

A court has ruled the Springfield District 186 School Board acted properly when it fired the former superintendent Walter Milton.  An agreement with Milton was negotiated and agreed to in private.  

The State Journal Register alleged the board violated the Open Meetings Act.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Muslims in Illinois are coping with increased scrutiny and incendiary rhetoric. We take you inside a local mosque and introduce you to a business owner in Champaign-Urbana during this two-part series.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Cinda Klickna, president of the Illinois Education Association, talks about the Every Student Succeeds Act — the new law that’s replacing No Child Left Behind. Our conversation involves liquid diets and cemeteries. Click the link below to listen.

 

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Bill and Tim discuss the spring opening of Sky Zone in Springfield.    Also ridership down on Amtrak and update on a couple of construction projects on this week's business report.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Muslims in Illinois are coping with increased scrutiny and incendiary rhetoric. We take you inside a local mosque and introduce you to a business owner in Champaign-Urbana during this two-part series.

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Campaign contributions to former Governor Rod Blagojevich may have sealed the fate for a pair of historic Illinois racetracks. But not if some state legislators have their way.

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NPR | Illinois Public Radio has been fortunate to be supported by listeners over the years enabling us to develop comprehensive converage of state government and politics.  Now NPR Illinois will grow further with the launch of a collaboration with other Illinois public media to increase coverage of education,  health/environment, and government. 

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University of Illinois Springfield police say an arrest was made over the weekend after threatening statements were posted on social media.  

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A fight over locker room access for a transgender student in a Chicago suburb has gained national attention. The agreement reached between one of the state’s largest school districts and the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights could have implications for the rest of the country too.

Flickr/ Shiraz Chakera

Dr. Valerie Hoffman has taught about Islam and the Muslim faith for three decades. She teaches religion at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and has lived in the Middle East.

Office of the comptroller

Domestic violence shelters were one of the social service groups hardest hit by the budget impasse. But $18 million for those 62 shelter agencies was among funds released through legislation passed last week.

Comptroller Leslie Munger recently explained to NPR Illinois what that means for the shelters.

The measure passed last week ordered the release of $3.1 billion, which includes payments to local governments, 911 energy phone services and Lottery winners. Those payments can be made because independent state funds are dedicated to those services, Munger says.

npr.org

  Even with all of its fiscal troubles Illinois will have to put nearly $8 billion into its retirement systems next year -- that's a quarter of the state's expected revenue. Legislative leaders and the governor may finally be poised to begin talking about how they may be able to reduce costs.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

This week, President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act --- a rewrite of No Child Left Behind. The new law, referred to as ESSA, passed with bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress.


It replaces the wildly unpopular law that's come to be known as No Child Left Untested. Educators are so enthusiastic about this rewrite, the heads of two Illinois teachers unions flew to Washington to witness its signing.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

For the past eight years, federal lawmakers have been debating No Child Left Behind — a measure that led to a reliance on standardized testing as a way to ensure that students were getting a good education.

During a speech in Chicago this week, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was asked about the prospects for new taxes, while Governor Bruce Rauner said that he expects the budget stalemate to continue into the spring.   Despite the budget impasse, an agreement was made to send some money owed to Illinois municipalities, as well as to the lottery and Secretary of State.  Matt Dietrich of RebootIllinois.com joins the panel.

wuis.org

The city of Springfield is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a downtown panhandling ban after it was declared unconstitutional by a federal appeals court. 

Advisory Board Minutes

Dec 10, 2015

 

NPR Illinois Advisory Board Meeting
December 10, 2015

Attendees:

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

A mother said she’d had it with her kids.  They whined.  They negotiated.  They wanted more and more, despite the fact their toy shelves were already burgeoning with un-used toys.

She resented their self-centeredness, so she decided to try a different strategy.

She called her rascals together, looked them squarely in the eye, and said very clearly that for the days leading up to Christmas, they were going to focus on giving instead of receiving.

Sarah Jane Rhee

In Illinois, thousands of African American men are released from prison each year. But, without support from government and community, many will go back. 

Will Clayton

The Illinois Constitution turns 45 on December 15. As the document reaches its birthday, Charlie Wheeler looks at the ways it modernized government. 

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Years of mismanagement led to the state’s current fiscal crisis. A recent report from the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) suggests changes to the budgeting process that could help prevent future disasters. 

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The state's largest public employee union remains at odds with Governor Rauner's administration on a new contract.  

Vachel Lindsay Association

Kevin Purcell is a well-known Illinois actor and director who helped co-found Over the Moon Productions. This weekend he will be performing a one-man show at the Hoogland: "A Child's Christmas in Wales." It's his reading of the well-loved story by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.

 He spoke with us about his rendition of it for this interview. We also spoke with Tim Schirmer who composed the music for the production:

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

This week we are joined by Kimberly Moore who is the founder of one of Springfield's longest-running poetry events, an open mic night called 'Expressions in the Dark.'

A year ago, Illinois' income tax rate fell by 25-percent. The top Democrat in the Illinois House is suggesting it go back up.

Voice of America News: Henry Ridgwell from the Turkish border by Aleppo

Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, is denouncing recent anti-Muslim statements from his party's front-runner for president, but he's sticking to his position on Syrian refugees, and he's even taking it a step further.

Rauner described Donald Trump's call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. as "an extreme action."

"What he's proposing is just fundamentally counter to American values," Rauner said Tuesday in response to reporters' questions. "I strongly, strongly disagree with candidate Trump."

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