The topics on this edition of State Week in Review include Republican Tom Cross' announcement that he is stepping down from the position of House Minority Leader and raising the speed limit for Illinois interstate highways.
This week's panel consists of Sean Crawford, Charlie Wheeler, Amanda Vinicky, and Brian Mackey.
With national unemployment at its lowest level since the start of the Great Recession, the numbers keep going the wrong way in several parts of Illinois.
Peoria, Danville, and Decatur all saw unemployment increase by more than a percentage point.
Still, Gov. Pat Quinn defends his administration's efforts at building the economy. Thursday, he announced that a German manufacturer will move its U-S headquarters to Schaumburg, a Chicago suburb, a move Quinn says could create 40 jobs.
Thursday's unemployment numbers show Decatur is once again lagging the rest of Illinois. That long-term trend is partly responsible for a new law aimed at changing the way Illinois handles economic development.
In Decatur, 13.2 percent of job-seekers can't find work. State Sen. Andy Manar — a Democrat whose district includes Decatur — says that's part of the reason he thought it was time to blow up the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and start over.
Illinois' largest public pension fund hit a major low in 2012, its rate of return was less than one percent. But an early analysis shows the last fiscal year was better than expected. The success isn’t expected to make much of a dent in Illinois’ nearly $100 billion dollar pension liability, however, which lawmakers thus far have failed to tackle.
Another Democrat is joining what is becoming a crowded field of candidates for Illinois' 13th Congressional District seat. David Green of Champaign said Monday that he will run in the Democratic Party primary. He joins University of Illinois physicist George Gollin and retired Edwardsville judge Ann Callis. Green is a 63-year-old social policy analyst at the University of Illinois' Center for Prevention Research and Development. He told The News-Gazette in Champaign that he's anti-war and hopes to appeal to leftists and anti-war libertarians.
A panel of ten Illinois lawmakers has been working this summer to find a solution to Illinois' pension problem. With an unfunded liability of about 100-billion dollars, payments to the public pension systems are taking up a larger chunk of overall state government spending.
WUIS' Sean Crawford spoke with Representative Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat and one of the leaders in the push to change how retirement systems are funded.
The issue of video gaming machines has created a divide in the town of Auburn.
Mayor Barb Stamer cast a tie breaking vote against gambling earlier this year. Now, she's changed her mind. (UPDATE: 6:45 a.m. Tuesday) The matter came up at Monday's Auburn City Council meeting and Stamer cast the tie-breaking vote in favor.
Towns small and large have had to decide whether or not allowing the machines is worth the cut the communities will receive from gamblers.
Stamer spoke with WUIS' Sean Crawford on Illinois Edition:
Nafia Khan (in duck suit) and DCCC organizer Lauren North were on the Illinois State Fairgrounds for Republican Day. They accuse Congressman Rodney Davis of "ducking" constituents, something his spokesman dismisses as "political funny season."
Political campaigns are gearing up for next year's elections. So, too, are political pranksters.
Congressman Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, has lately found himself being shadowed by a giant duck.
Technically it's a woman in a duck suit: "Uh, yes, it is very warm in the duck costume."
This is Nafia Khan. She and a handful of other activists are on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, holding signs that accuse Congressman Davis of "ducking" constituents. They say he's not holding any town hall meetings.
Five years ago, Howard G. Buffett was at a meeting of an international food aid agency when he was told that feeding the millions of starving people in Africa was simple.
Just give them better seeds, someone said.
That advice might work on some philanthropists. But Buffett, son of billionaire Warren Buffett, happens to be an Illinois farmer.
“This guy was explaining to me how to farm and he’d never been on a farm in his life,” he said. “So it really kind of irritated me. I came home and said, ‘OK, I’m going to have data to show these guys.’”
This is the eleventh installment of the 2013 edition of My Farm Roots, Harvest Public Media’s series chronicling Americans’ connection to the land. Click here to explore more My Farm Roots stories and to share your own.