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Budget
6:50 am
Mon June 30, 2014

Deadline For Quinn To Take Budget Action

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  It's the last day of the fiscal year for the State of Illinois, which means the pressure is on for Gov. Pat Quinn to sign a new budget into law.

There's nothing on the governor's public schedule for today, but that doesn't mean he won't be busy making official the spending plan passed by his fellow Democrats in the General Assembly.

It makes sense that Quinn wouldn't want to hold a big ceremony drawing attention to it. He had wanted lawmakers to extend Illinois' 5-percent income tax rate, beyond its scheduled rollback halfway through the new fiscal year.

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Redistricting
5:30 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Redistricting Effort Gives Up

Yes! For Independent Maps collected 27 feet's worth of signatures to have its redistricting question appear on the November ballot, but that effort is stalled this year now that a judge declared it unconstitutional.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

An effort to change how legislative districts are drawn has suspended its efforts. It follows a judge Friday ruling that the proposal is unconstitutional.

"Yes! For Independent Maps," as the redistricting coalition calls itself, is not done for good.

Spokesman Jim Bray says the group will stay together in hopes of maybe trying again in the future. But he says it's done this year's efforts.

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Term Limits
5:27 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Rauner's Discarded Term Limit Initiative Mirrors Quinn's 1994 Effort

Then-Treasurer Pat Quinn had a term limit petition of his own in the early 1990s. But in summer 1994, much like Rauner's term limit petition, it was found unconstitutional.
Credit Courtesy of Quinn For Illinois

Governor Pat Quinn and his Republican challenger, Bruce Rauner, disagree about plenty -- everything from gun rights and restrictions, to what Illinois' income tax should be. But with Friday's ruling by a Cook County judge knocking a term limits initiative off the ballot, the candidates have something in common.

Though there has been a lot of turnover in the General Assembly in recent years, some politicians have been serving in Springfield for decades.

Chief among them House Speaker Michael Madigan, who has been a state representative since 1971.

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State Week
2:13 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Listen To State Week - June 27, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

Topics this week include gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner's latest statements on how to balance the state budget and the latest questions about why his daughter was accepted as a student at an elite Chicago high school.  Also, Governor Pat Quinn facing criticism after a disastrous audit of his Chicago anti-violence program.

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Statehouse
12:32 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Judge Nixes Term Limit, Remap Initiatives

Credit flickr/Brian Turner

A Cook County judge has ruled that signature-driven ballot measures calling for legislative term limits and a new political redistricting process can't appear on the November ballot.
 
Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mary Mikva says in a Friday ruling the measures don't meet constitutional requirements to make the ballot.
 
The ruling is a setback for groups advocating the measures, including one led by Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner.  He's made term limits
a cornerstone of his campaign to unseat Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.
 

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Election 2014
8:16 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Rauner's Daughter School Admission Under Scrutiny

Credit BruceRauner.com

The issue of how Republican Bruce Rauner's daughter got into an elite Chicago public high school has resurfaced in the Illinois governor's race.

Rauner has maintained that he didn't use his money or influence to get a daughter into Walter Payton College Prep in 2008. Initially, she was rejected despite having top grades. Rauner has said his family appealed through a principals' discretionary process.  

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Regional
8:04 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Illinois Town Considers Privatizing Fire Dept.

Credit flickr/Terence S. Jones

One of a number of Illinois towns struggling with increasing pension costs wants to save money by shifting control of its fire department to a private company.  

North Riverside officials pitched the proposal at a hearing before state regulators in Chicago on Thursday. Mayor Hubert Hermanek says the move could save $700,000 annually.  

Illinois Municipal League officials say other cities could try similar solutions when the state begins to enforce increasing pension payments in 2016.  

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Statehouse
6:48 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Pension Decision Will Wait Until At Least December

  It could be December before a judge decides on the legality of Illinois' pension overhaul law for at least another five months. Attorneys met Thursday in Sangamon County Court and agreed on a timeline for the case.

Current and retired state employees, teachers and university workers are suing Gov. Pat Quinn over the pension overhaul passed by the General Assembly late last year.

Though it was to have already begun taking effect, a judge has put it on hold until its legality is sorted out in court.

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Regional
1:08 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Kidzeum Receives State Grant, Construction Starts Soon

Credit WUIS/Lee Strubinger

A long awaited children’s museum in Springfield is a step closer to becoming reality.   Construction on a building for the Kidzeum of Health and Science will begin this year.
 

A $1 million dollar grant from the state, along with an additional $675,000 in TIF funds from the city of Springfield, are enough to get the work underway.  The facility will occupy the old Schnepp and Barnes building,  a nearly 70 year old structure on East Adams in the downtown area.   

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Statehouse
12:43 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Gov. Quinn Won't Testify On Neighborhood Recovery Initiative

Gov. Pat Quinn says he has no intentions of testifying before a legislative commission about the scandal-laden anti-violence program he started
in 2010.
 
The Chicago Democrat hasn't been subpoenaed or invited less informally. But seven former officials with his administration have been compelled to appear
before the Legislative Audit Commission next month. They're expected to address problems with management and spending under Quinn's $55 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.
 

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Transportation
12:03 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Flashing Yellow Arrows Coming To Wabash Ave.

Credit udot.utah.gov

Traffic signals designed to prevent accidents are being installed on Springfield's west side.

Flashing yellow arrows will display at several intersections along Wabash Avenue, including at the White Oaks mall entrances.
The state Department of Transportation says the arrows have resulted in significant reductions in crashes where they are in place in other areas.  Statistics show intersections account for more than 30 percent of accidents.  

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Health Desk
5:46 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Governor Signs Measure Letting Psychologists Prescribe

Credit flickr/Ajay Suresh

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed off on a measure that allows psychologists in Illinois to prescribe medication to patients.  

The governor signed the legislation Wednesday in Chicago. It was sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park and Rep. John Bradley of Marion, both Democrats.  
Psychologists have to receive specific training for prescription-writing privileges and be required to work with a coordinating physician.  

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Statehouse
4:46 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

GOP Lawmaker Wants Quinn To Testify

Sen. Matt Murphy
Credit ilga.gov

A Republican lawmaker wants Gov. Pat Quinn to testify before a legislative commission over a scandal-plagued anti-violence program.  

State Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine is a frequent critic of Quinn. He claimed Wednesday that Quinn is ``hiding'' as an audit commission probes the Chicago Democrat's approximately $55 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.  

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Election 2014
4:12 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

Rauner Plans To Close Tax "Loopholes," Change EDGE Credits

Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner has unveiled what he says is phase three of his plans to "Restore Illinois." It's focused on how the state taxes businesses.

In a statement — he released the plan via social media, rather than at a live event — Rauner says he wants to close "special interest loopholes."

Like a tax break for buying a racehorse.

And, in a risky move as he seeks to win newspaper editorial boards' endorsements, he wants Illinois to begin taxing newsprint.

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Pensions
11:03 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Teacher Pension Fund Lowers Expected Investment Return; State's Obligation To Grow

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  The Illinois Teachers' Retirement System says it expects a lower return on its pension investments in the next year. That means the state will have to cover more of the cost of teacher pensions.

TRS says it's still a good assumed rate of investment return at 7.5 percent. That falls in line with similar pension systems nationwide. But it's not as profitable as 8-percent, which TRS had been using for the previous few years.

Dave Urbanek is with TRS. He says the unpredictable nature of the international economy spurred the decision to lower the rate.

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Arts
6:00 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Chicago Chosen As Home Of George Lucas Museum

George Lucas
Credit wikimedia/Joi Ito

``Star Wars'' creator George Lucas has selected Chicago to build his museum of art and movie memorabilia.  

Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, confirmed the decision. McCaffrey did not have any immediate details about the much-anticipated decision by the filmmaker. But the choice is a major victory for Emanuel and the nation's third-largest city, which was competing with San Francisco for the museum.  

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Neighborhood Recovery Initiative
3:57 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Two Insiders Dropped From Subpoena List

Rep. Frank Mautino, D-Spring Valley
Credit ILGA.gov

Subpoenas are going out to five former members of Gov. Pat Quinn's administration who were involved with his plagued anti-violence program, but two other insiders will not be served. As Quinn seeks reelection, he continues to be dogged by a program rolled out just before his last, close race for governor.

Republicans contend the timing wasn't a coincidence; they allege Quinn rushed to introduce the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative to curry favor with Chicago area leaders before the 2010 election. A state audit and media reports reveal it was botched.

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Business
10:56 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Tim Landis: Video Gambling; Workforce Job Shifts; Parsons Ordered To Court

Tim Landis
Credit SJ-R.com

On this week's WUIS/State Journal-Register Business Report, the SJ-R's Tim Landis talks about efforts to slow the growth of video gambling in Springfield.

We also hear how one company is adding jobs at the same location another firm has been making layoffs and THR and Associates founder Jeff Parsons is told to report to court:

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10th Street Rail Corridor
5:06 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Ombudsman To Act As Go-Between For 10th Street Rail Corridor

Retired Judge Theodis Lewis will serve as ombudsman for the 10th Street Rail Corridor project. Lewis addressed a press conference at the location of the first construction, at 10th and Carpenter, on Monday.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Negotiations between residents of the 10th Street Corridor and the Illinois Department of Transportation , now that there is a go-between for the high speed rail project. A new ombudsman says he will be independent of either side.

Retired Judge Theodis Lewis will mediate discussions and disputes as the city and state get going on construction of the 10th Street Rail Corridor. Lewis' position was announced in downtown Springfield, on the site of the first phase of construction, at 10th and Carpenter. An underpass is slated to begin in late summer.

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Election 2014
4:12 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Libertarians: Strive To Beat "Ballot-Blocking" To Get On Ballot

The Libertarian's slate of statewide candidates for the 2014 election; Chad Grimm, the candidate for governor, is to the immediate left of the podium, while Political Director Lex Green is speaking.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

The Libertarian Party of Illinois is running a candidate for Governor, and all of the other statewide races. But the race could be over before it begins.

Chad Grimm, a 33-year-old health club manager from Peoria, and the Libertarian party's nominee for Illinois governor, has some unconventional political views; he believes Illinois should completely do away with a state income tax, and that there should be no -- as in zero - regulations on guns: Not the type, not where they're allowed, not who can have one.

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Statehouse
3:36 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Anti-Violence Program Director, Others Subpoenaed

Credit WUIS/Brian Mackey

Illinois legislators have voted to subpoena seven former state officials to answer questions about a troubled 2010 anti-violence program started by Gov. Pat Quinn.  

A subcommittee of the Legislative Audit Commission voted Monday. They were initially considering just one person for subpoena, but Democrats on the committee said they'd decided to hear from everyone at once. The matter requires a signature from a co-chairman, state Rep. Frank Mautino, a Democrat who wasn't at the meeting.  

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Statehouse
3:14 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

New U of I President To Be Named In December

Retiring U of I President Bob Easter.
Credit U of I

University of Illinois officials say they plan to announce the next president for the state's flagship institution by December.  But the process is only just getting started.

President Bob Easter will retire next year.

The search committee in charge of recommending a replacement to the U of I's board of trustees must sift through around 120 candidates.    Some candidates are nominees, and others are those who are qualified to fill the position but already hold a significant post elsewhere.

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Statehouse
9:20 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Lottery Contractor Likely Short Of Target

Credit Illinois Lottery

Illinois' lottery contractor will likely be $200 million short of the money it promised the state this year when the fiscal year ends next week.
 
Northstar Lottery Group has never reached the profits it signed onto when it
took over in 2011.
 
The contract says falling short of goals by 10 percent two years in a row is
reason to end the partnership, and this year would be the second consecutive
year it hasn't made its goal.
 
Northstar CEO Tim Simonson says that his company has achieved higher profits

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Election 2014
8:43 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Quinn Fundraising Appeal Tied To Bill Signing

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

Voters will get to weigh in on whether Illinois should raise its minimum wage for adults to $10 an hour. Gov. Pat Quinn approved the ballot question Sunday, and wasted no time campaigning on the issue.

The question is just advisory — lawmakers don’t have to heed the people’s advice — but supporters of the increase say they hope it’ll pressure reluctant legislators to go along.

Critics say this is a ploy to get more Democrats to the polls — since turnout tends to be lower in non-presidential election years.

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Illinois Medal of Honor
4:51 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Sixteen Officers Receive Medal Of Honor

Illinois State Trooper Brad Williams, one of 16 recipients of the states's Medal of Honor this year.
Credit Screengrab via YouTube

  Sixteen police officers from across Illinois were awarded the state's Medal of Honor Friday in Springfield. One officer had previously been honored as state trooper of the year.

In April 2013, State Trooper Brad Williams responded to a five-victim homicide in the tiny village of Manchester, in Western Illinois. Traveling by motorcycle, he chased the suspect for miles, joined by dozens of other officers along the way.

In the end, the suspect stopped his car and shot at police. Williams pulled his weapon and fatally shot the man.

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State Week
4:42 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Listen To State Week - June 20, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

Citizen initiatives on redistricting and term limits are facing challenges on their way toward inclusion on the November ballot.  Governor Quinn signs legislation undoing cuts to the Medicaid program.  Also, Illinois Congressman Peter Roskam loses his bid to join the House leadership team in Washington D.C.

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Inspector General Report
3:50 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

IBHE Leader "Abused Public Resources," Got $48K

Former Director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Dr. George Reid
Credit Illinois Board of Higher Education

A just-released investigation by Illinois' Inspector General's office found that the former head of the state board of higher education abused public resources and wasted state funds, among other findings.

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Regional
9:25 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Special Prosecutor Appointed In Pike Co. Case

Pike Co. Sheriff's Office
Credit pikecoil.org

A special prosecutor has been appointed to handle the
case of Pike County's sheriff, who is accused of misconduct.
 
The Quincy Herald-Whig reports (http://bit.ly/1l6HtOo ) that Ed Parkinson with
the Illinois State's Attorney Appellate Prosecutor's Office has been assigned to
Sheriff Paul Petty's case. Petty is due in court for a hearing on Friday.
 
An Adams County judge ruled earlier this month that having the Pike County
State's Attorney's office prosecute the case was a conflict of interest.
 

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Regional
8:15 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Alderman Wants Competitive Bids To Insure CWLP In The Future

Credit springfield.il.us

A Springfield alderman wants to make sure that other insurance companies get the chance to cover CWLP properties for the city.

At the last city council meeting, aldermen approved a 3 year contract with R.W. Troxell to insure the city owned utility.  The cost is around $1.8 million per year.

Under city code, however, anything with a cost over 25 thousand dollars must be competitively bid.
Ward 7's Joe McMenamin says the Mayor's administration got around that caveat by claiming insurance is a service, rather than a purchase.

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Statehouse
7:44 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Power Outage Caused Secretary Of State Computers To Go Down Thursday

Credit cyberdriveillinois

The Illinois Secretary of State office's main computer briefly stopped working, halting transactions for about three hours.

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