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Election 2014
8:23 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

GOP Governor Candidates Discuss School Funding

Credit flickr/skakerman

The question of assuring equitable school funding across the state is being debated at a forum for Republican candidates for governor.
 
The four bidders are squaring off at a forum hosted by Illinois Public Broadcasters and the League of Women Voters.  

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Election 2014
6:26 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Hear Republican Candidates For Governor Debate

Hear the broadcast from January 24, 2014 involving the four candidates:  Bill Brady, Dan Rutherford, Bruce Rauner and Kirk Dillard.

Also, listen to analysis from political observers, including Institute for Government and Public Affairs Director Chris Mooney, WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky, WILL host Jim Meadows and Public TV's Jak Tichenor and H. Wayne Wilson.

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Statehouse
5:57 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Democrat Cullerton Wants To Meet With GOP Nominee For Governor

Sen. John Cullerton
Credit ilga.gov

The President of the Illinois State Senate - John Cullerton - says he wants to meet with the eventual Republican nominee for governor about the state’s finances.  It comes as the state’s income and corporate tax rates are scheduled to go down in a year.

The governor’s office predicts the tax decrease will create a nearly $2 billion hole in the next budget. Cullerton - a Chicago Democrat - says he’d like to hear from the Republican nominee about the state’s budget.

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Higher Education
5:41 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

U Of I To Consider Pension Cut Offsets

Robert Easter
Credit U of I

University of Illinois President Robert Easter and other administrators will consider ways to help university employees make up for some of the money they will lose when state pension reforms begin June 1.  

University trustees on Thursday directed Easter to assess the changes coming to the state pension system and options for preserving benefits that will be lost. The president is expected to make recommendations to the trustees before June. The board of trustees oversees the university's three campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.  

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Education
2:13 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

U of I Board OKs Tuition Increase & UIS Student Union

The future UIS student union
Credit uis.edu

Newly approved tuition increases at the University of Illinois mean that four years of college on the flagship campus will top $100,000 for many students. Trustees voted Thursday to raise tuition by 1.7 %. They also increased fees and housing costs. Vice President for Academic Affairs Christopher Pierre says the increases sticks to a university plan to keep increases in line with inflation.

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Regional
2:13 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

New Madrid Fault Still Active And Poses A Threat

Credit USGS

Scientists said today that the New Madrid fault zone in the nation's midsection is active and could spawn future large earthquakes.  

The journal Science published the study online. U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Susan Hough was part of the study. She says the fault zone is ``not dead yet.''  
Researchers have long debated just how much of a hazard New Madrid poses. The zone stretches 150 miles, crossing parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.  

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Election 2014
6:00 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Campaigns Must Disclose Payroll Numbers

Bruce Rauner speaks with reporters in this August 2013 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois State Board of Elections is putting a stop to a practice that's allowed political campaigns to hide some of their spending.

This is a story of new technology coming under the purview of older campaign finance laws.

At least two major candidates this year have been paying staff through outside payroll companies: Democrat Mike Frerichs, who's running for treasurer, uses ADP; and Republican Bruce Rauner, running for governor, uses Paylocity.*

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Regional
9:24 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Thursday's Closings

School closings for Thursday January 23:

A C Central

Athens

Auburn

Ball Chatham

Calvary Academy

Capital Area Career Center

Decatur

Edinburg

Goodwill's Vocational Rehab & Developmental Training programs

Greenview

Jacksonville Public Schools

Jacksonville Routt

Lincoln Public Schools

New Berlin

North Mac

Pawnee

Pleasant Plains

PORTA

Riverton

Rochester

Sangamon Valley

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Statehouse
7:15 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Lawmaker Wants Registry For Animal Abusers

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Illinois has registries for sex offenders and for those who've harmed children. Now a lawmaker wants to create a registry for people who've hurt animals.

Representative Toni Berrios' proposal would create a registry for animal abusers, to be maintained by the state’s Department of Agriculture. Once on the registry, a person couldn’t buy a companion animal, or be employed in a job involving animals.

Berrios, a Democrat from Chicago, says the current penalty for a first-time offender is too light.

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Statehouse
6:56 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Legislators Seek To Adjust Funding Formula; Others Say It's Not Enough

School funding in Illinois is prorated at 89 percent this year, and might sink even lower next year.

  Illinois ranks last in the nation when it comes to how much money the state kicks in for public education. This has to do with the complicated formula that determines school funding. But it also has to do with the amount districts are being prorated.

This year, Illinois is only paying 89 percent of the money it's supposed to send to schools. Currently those cuts are applied across the board, hitting wealthy and poor districts alike.

Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon says she wants to make sure schools districts with more impoverished students aren't left behind.

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Harvest Desk
5:46 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Cargill Settles Hiring Discrimination Suit At Beardstown Plant, Others

The Cargill Meat Solutions plant in Beardstown
Credit WBEZ

Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. will pay $2.2 million as part of settlement with the federal government over discrimination allegations involving three of its U.S. meat processing plants.
 
The money will be used to pay back wages and interest to nearly 3,000 applicants who were rejected for jobs at facilities in Springdale, Ark.; Fort Morgan, Colo.; and Beardstown, Ill., between 2005 and 2009.
 
U.S. Department of Labor officials say the company's hiring process discriminated based on sex, race and ethnicity.
 

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Rep. Elaine Nekritz propses path to permit
4:55 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Illinois Drivers Could Get Additional Chance To Drive After Convictions

Under Rep. Elaine Nekritz's proposal, Illinois drivers with four or more DUIs on their records could be let back on the road after a full rehabilitation.
Credit flickr/theeggplant

  Illinois law says after four DUI convictions, that person can never drive again, not even if his or her offenses are long in the past. But one lawmaker wants to give people who've gotten their lives together another chance drive.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) says her bill was inspired by a constituent who had several DUIs in the past, but has been sober for years.

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Bruce Rauner, however, was a no-show
11:46 am
Wed January 22, 2014

GOP Candidates For Governor To Support Eventual Nominee

  The four Republicans running for governor are battling one another now ... but most say they'll put that aside after the primary.

At a debate at Chicago's Union League Club the GOP candidates for governor tried to set themselves apart on questions about transportation funding, Medicaid, and government consolidation.

But they all had the same response to the question, "Do you all individually agree to support the Republican nominee, whoever he is?"

Senator Bill Brady, Senator Kirk Dillard and Treasurer Dan Rutherford each raised their hands.

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The Hoogland
10:34 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Johnny Molson & Gus Gordon Are The Odd Couple

The story of The Odd Couple is one that's been told not only on stage, but as a movie, TV series - even a cartoon. The story is a classic one full of comedic one-liners, but also a lot of heart. Starring in a new local production is radio personality Johnny Molson, and the head of the Hoogland Center for the Arts, Gus Gordon. They recently joined us for this interview, which begins with Gordon explaining why he thinks it's a good fit for local audiences: 

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Regional
10:03 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Council To Consider Lake Decatur Dredging

Credit flickr/HAM guy

Central Illinois officials are expected to vote next month on whether to spend nearly $90 million on a massive dredging project in Lake Decatur.
 
The Herald & Review reports (http://bit.ly/1dvfQFI ) Decatur's city council is expected to vote on the project during their Feb. 3 meeting.
 
During a work session Tuesday, city manager Ryan McCrady said the effort would be ``the biggest project the city of Decatur has ever undertaken.''
 
Officials have said removing billions of gallons of sediment from the lake will

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Harvest Desk
8:17 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Opinions Pouring In On EPA Ethanol Proposal

Some commenting on the EPA's proposal to reduce the ethanol mandate even include hand-written appeals.
Credit Regulations.gov

Dear EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy,

Your inbox is filling up fast. Both ethanol supporters and critics are responding in bulk to the agency’s November proposal to reduce the ethanol mandate for 2014. Over 13,000 comments are in so far.

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Regional
7:46 am
Wed January 22, 2014

Springfield Halfway Houses May Close

Several halfway houses for parolees are in jeopardy after the Springfield City Council refused to allow a zoning change.

House of the Rainbow provides residences for parolees in four homes on North 10th Street and one on Enterprise Street.  But the zoning only allows for single family homes.

Owner of House of the Rainbow, David Kettelkamp, said he was not told what type of zoning designation he needed.

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Harvest Desk
6:40 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Harvest Desk: Ethanol At A Crossroads

E Energy in Adams, Neb., takes in corn from local farms to make 65 million gallons of ethanol each year. The company also make distillers grains from the corn, which is used to feed livestock; corn oil which can be made into biodiesel; and CO2 which is used in soft drinks.
Credit Grant Gerlock/Harvest Public Media

A steady stream of semi-trailers rolls across the scales at the E Energy ethanol plant near the town of Adams in southeast Nebraska. The smokestack behind the scale house sends up a tall plume of white steam. The sweet smell of fermenting corn is in the air.

E Energy buys 65 million bushels of corn each day from area farmers and turns it into 65 million gallons of ethanol each year.

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8:44 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Gates Cites Illinois Corruption in 3 Myths that Block Progress for the Poor

Lead in text: 
"Four of the past seven governors of Illinois have gone to prison for corruption, and to my knowledge no one has demanded that Illinois schools be shut down or it's highways closed." - Bill Gates
New IGPA Report
7:15 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Budget Gap To Increase Despite Pension Overhaul

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' pension overhaul is tied up in a court challenge.  But even if it remains law, cuts to state employees' and public school teachers' retirement benefits will not solve the state's budget problem.  That's the forecast from a report issued today by the University of Illinois' Institute for Government and Public Affairs. Amanda Vinicky spoke with the report's principle author, economist Richard Dye.

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Harvest Desk
6:56 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Illinois Meat Packer Recalls Hams

Credit USDA

A northern Illinois meat packer is recalling more than 67,000 thousand pounds of sliced spiral ham due to possible Listeria contamination.

Gusto packing shipped the hams to wholesalers in Illinois and three other states.  It includes Centrella Signature, Amish Valley and Ripple Creek Farm Brands.

The problem was discovered when Gusto Packing’s internal sampling program found some of its products tested positive for the bacteria which causes isteriosis

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Congress
6:00 am
Mon January 20, 2014

Durbin Pushing To Extend Unemployment Benefits

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin speaks with reporters Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, outside his home in Springfield.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin continues to push for an extension of unemployment benefits. He says it’ll be the first priority when the U.S. Senate reconvenes next week.

Durbin says 83,000 Illinoisans lost unemployment benefits on January first.

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Durbin supports Obama in NSA scaleback
5:29 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Durbin Praises Obama For NSA Scale Back

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

  Illinois' senior U.S. Senator says he supports President Barack Obama's changes for the National Security Agency.

President Obama has seen a split within his own party since Edward Snowden's revelations about how the U.S is gathering intelligence.

But at least one Democrat — Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin — says Obama is taking the right steps in balancing privacy with keeping America safe.

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State Week
3:16 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Listen To State Week - January 17, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

Among this week's topics: Republican Gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's statements on whether or not he used his clout to get his daughter into an elite school, Tio Hardiman's challenge to Governor Pat Quinn as the possible Democratic candidate for governor, and also new political endorsements from Illinois unions.

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Born To Run
12:25 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Shoes Off! Barefoot Running Author To Take A Lap In Springfield

Credit wikipedia.org

  If you're in downtown Springfield Saturday morning, don't be surprised if you see a pack of runners jogging around town -- barefoot. Christoper McDougall, author of the acclaimed book "Born to Run" is the featured speaker for the Springfield Road Runner's Club annual awards dinner on Saturday night. WUIS's Amanda Vinicky will be there, in her trusty Nikes, but after reading McDougall's book and speaking with him about it, she just may try taking them off ... when it gets warmer.

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Nation/World
10:56 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Obama Backs Limits On NSA Phone Surveillance

Credit npr

President Barack Obama is ordering changes to the government's massive collection of phone records that he says will end the program ``as it currently exists.''
 
 Obama says in a speech prepared for delivery at the Justice Department Wednesday that intelligence officials have not intentionally abused the program to invade privacy.
 

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Election 2014
6:17 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Primary Challenge To Gov. Quinn Can Continue

Tio Hardiman
Credit uic.edu

A Democratic challenger to incumbent Governor Pat Quinn says he received the "best news in the world" Thursday morning, he gets to remain on the ballot. 
Not anyone can run for office in Illinois.  Getting on the ballot requires turning in paperwork, including signatures of registered voters.
Tio Hardiman, the former director of the anti-violence group Ceasefire, says he did that.

"We put a lot of work into this campaign. We've traveled the entire state, it's not like we just jumped up overnight and said let's run for governor," Hardiman said.

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Election 2014
5:58 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Unions Take Aim At Rauner In GOP Primary

Bruce Rauner
Credit wuis

A major organized labor coalition says it plans to ``do everything possible'' to oppose Republican Bruce Rauner's bid for Illinois governor.  
The Illinois AFL-CIO announced Thursday that its board approved a resolution to engage union members to defeat the Winnetka businessman.

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Harvest Desk
5:48 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Midwest Takes A Look At Labeling GMOs

Labeling advocates in Colorado are hoping to get an initiative on the 2014 ballot that would require the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Credit brdavid/flickr

Last year, we counted between 20 and 30 state legislatures considering bills that mandate labeling on genetically engineered foods or foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Still a hot-topic, many labeling laws are working their way through statehouses all over the nation – even in farm country.

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Regional
11:32 am
Thu January 16, 2014

FutureGen Gets Key Federal Approval

The FutureGen site
Credit WUIS

The U.S. Department of Energy has given the long-running FutureGen clean-coal project one of the final OKs it needs to start building.  

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