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Fiscal Focus
4:30 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Report: Deficit Expected Even If Tax Hike Stays

Credit flickr/borman18

  Even if Illinois keeps its higher income tax rate, a new report projects the state is headed toward deficit spending. 

Illinois residents are paying a 5-percent tax on their income. It's been that way since 2011.

According to a new report from the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, that tax money helped balance Illinois' budget this year.

But economist David Merriman, who directed the project, says that won't last.

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Nation/World
2:59 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Fmr. Congressman Reports To Prison

Jesse Jackson Jr.

Former Illinois U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has reported to a North Carolina federal prison to serve a 2 1/2-year prison term for misusing campaign funds.  
Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke declined to offer details, including when Jackson reported to prison.  
Court documents were never clear about when Jackson must report. In her sentencing order written earlier this year, A federal judge in Washington said only that he would have to surrender no earlier than Nov.1.  

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Harvest Desk
10:45 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Income Up - Revenue Down At ADM

Credit ADM

Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. said today that its third-quarter earnings more than doubled partly on increased profit margins on ethanol. But the Decatur-based company says its results fell short of last year when adjusted to exclude an inventory credit.  

Revenue fell 2 percent but beat analysts' forecasts.  
Net income was $476 million, or 72 cents per share, up from $182 million, or 28 cents per share, a year earlier.  

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History
10:27 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Conference On Former Gov. Otto Kerner Saturday

Former Gov. Otto Kerner
Credit wikepedia

Few people these days can tell you much about former Illinois Governor Otto Kerner other than he spent time in prison.   But there was more to the man  who oversaw state government from 1961 to 1968.  This Saturday, an all day conference in Springfield will focus on Kerner, looking at his professional accomplishments, his trial and conviction and his private life.  

The event, at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, will include journalists, politicians and even members of Kerner's family.  

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Farm Bill And SNAP
5:19 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Food Stamp Cut "Will Affect Our Population Big Time"

The future of SNAP, the program which funds what are commonly referred to as food stamps, is up for debate as Congress attempts to authorize a new Farm Bill. An increase passed by Congress in 2009 to food stamps expires at the end of the month.
Credit Darrell Hoemann/ Midwest Center For Investigative Reporting

  Food pantries and homeless shelters say they're beginning to notice repercussions of a reduction in food stamps that will take effect Fri., Nov. 1. A temporary hike in benefits that kicked as a result of the recession expires this week.

Individuals enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, could see their benefits cut by $11 a month. A family of four could see a decrease of $36.

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Regional
11:39 am
Mon October 28, 2013

'Lincoln' Artifacts Coming To Lincoln Museum

Daniel Day-Lewis, center, portrays the title character in "Lincoln." One of his costumes and the cabinet room set are among the items from the film to be displayed at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.
Credit DreamWorks Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox

A piece of Hollywood is coming to Illinois. Director Steven Spielberg is sending props and sets from the movie “Lincoln” to be part of a new exhibit at Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.

The museum will get two big sets: the Lincoln bedroom, and the cabinet room in which the president — played by Daniel Day-Lewis — argued for passage of a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery.

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Statehouse
11:35 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Old Union Pay Raises Still In Limbo

Rep. Lou Lang speaks with reporters in this April 2013 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Union workers are still fighting for raises they were owed starting in 2011, but have never been paid. A court has ruled in their favor, but the Illinois legislature is still debating whether to make good.

To finally settle the pay raise issue, lawmakers would have to come up with about $100 million.

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Sports
2:59 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

"Rally Squirrel" Trademark Fight Continues

The rally squirrel was seen as good luck for the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.
Credit milb.com

The Rally Squirrel hasn't retired, he's just caught up in litigation.  When a squirrel bounded through the batter's box during the St. Louis Cardinals' 2011 postseason, an array of Rally Squirrel merchandise quickly sprang up.  

The rodent and all that he wrought is barely a memory now, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that a trademark dispute lingers at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  

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State Week
1:53 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Listen To State Week - October 25, 2013

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, a discussion of the first half of the Fall Veto Session.

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Hoogland
11:08 am
Fri October 25, 2013

'The Little Years' Play Merges Science, Stereotypes & Theater

 Stella Cole and Kevin Purcell join us to talk about a play that runs this weekend at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. Called 'The Little Years' it explores the trials of a female math prodigy. Following her over the course of over 40 years, from the time she was a teen during the 1950s, the Canadian play explores what happens when a brilliant young mind goes to relative waste: 

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Regional
7:21 am
Fri October 25, 2013

No Round-The-Clock Gambling At Ill. Casinos

Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

The Illinois Gaming Board has decided not to allow the state's 10 casinos to operate around the clock.

Gaming board spokesman Gene O'Shea says the decision was announced during a meeting Thursday by board chairman Aaron Jaffe.

A casino trade group had hoped to get permission for casinos to stay open 24 hours a day instead of the 22 hours they can operate now.

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Pensions
6:15 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Quinn Not Ready To Talk Taxes

Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Though he supported Illinois' income tax hike in the past, Governor Pat Quinn is so far unwilling to take a stance on whether it should expire.

This fiscal year, Illinois is putting $6.8 billion toward pensions. An amount that's more than covered by how much money the state took in from a higher income tax rate -- the increase alone is projected to pull in almost $8 billion this year.

But that raises the question: how will Illinois function when the income tax revenues begin to decrease?

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Farmer's Markets
4:13 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

'Green Saturday' Promotes Farmer's Markets

You've probably heard of Black Friday - but what about "Green Saturday"? No? Well that's a day the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and genHkids, non-profits aimed at promoting agriculture, nutrition and the buy-local movement, have recently come up with. And this Saturday marks the kick-off - with the group urging Illinois residents to support the state's farmers by purchasing their produce.

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Harvest Desk
12:15 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

UPDATE: Sharing Sunshine State Citrus With Illinois Families In Need

UPDATE (Nov. 8)

The following is from the Central Illinois Foodbank:

The Springfield Rotary Club is working toward a goal of 2,000 pounds of citrus to be donated to Central Illinois Foodbank. The club currently is about half way to their goal and hopes the community will help them double their current total.

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Fall Festivities
12:12 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Pay To Get Lost: Corn Mazes A Popular Fall Activity

Aerial view of corn maze
Credit http://www.bomkespatch.com/

The fall is a time when farmers prepare to harvest the year's crop. Half a year's worth of preparation, planting and waiting all comes down to the moment when they bring in their paycheck. But there are several farmers and business people who have a different idea in mind:

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Regional
11:06 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Creating A Vision Of Downtown Springfield

This design shows a vision for what is known as the Kerasotes Building at Washington and South Sixth Street.
Credit SDAT

Encouraging investment in Springfield's downtown is a key part of what the Sustainable Design Assessment Team hopes to accomplish.  

At the downtown farmer's market this Saturday, visitors can see display designs created by several architects.  They offer their vision of what downtown properties could become, with a focus on residential opportunities.

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Veto Session
10:12 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Museums Lose Bid To Cut Free Days

Field Museum visitors are greeted by Sue, said to be the world's most complete skeleton of a T. rex.
Credit Paul Hudson via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Many Illinois museums will continue to have to offer 52 free days a year. That's after the Illinois House failed to override a veto of legislation that would have cut that number in half.

The museum proposal is one of the few actual vetoes lawmakers had to deal with during their veto session.

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Gambling
9:53 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Renewed Push For Casinos, But Regulators Still Worry About Chicago

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers on Wednesday heard from supporters and opponents of allowing more casinos in Illinois. But they're no closer to making a deal.

Gambling was a big issue earlier this year, but negotiations fell apart in May, at the end of the spring legislative session. Since then, attention has moved to other issues, like the state's underfunded pension systems.

On the table are five new casinos — in Chicago and its north and south suburbs, in Rockford, and in Danville. The plan would also allow slot machines at horse racetracks.

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Veto Session
7:08 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Legislators Skip Town Early

  Illinois legislators were supposed to meet this week for three days as part of the fall veto session; instead they left Springfield after only two.

Little was accomplished during that time. Despite competing rallies, the Illinois House did not vote on legalizing same-sex marriage, whether state agencies, including the state police, will receive additional money remains unsettled, and there was no action on Illinois' pensions, which are the worst-funded in the nation.

It can give the impression that legislators are not doing their jobs.

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African Culture
7:00 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Roosevelt Pratt Brings African Culture To Springfield With Music, Language & More

You might not know it, but Springfield is home to a cultural center specializing in Africa. Run by a man known for his permanent smile, Roosevelt Pratt has unrelenting enthusiasm for his mission - to teach those in the Springfield-area about different aspects of African culture - from food, to language, to music... and more. But his path to Springfield was not an easy one, and he still struggles to do what he loves most, educate: 

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Regional
6:59 am
Thu October 24, 2013

Rushville's Dr. Dohner Joins IDOA Hall Of Fame

Credit Dr. Dohner Fan Page/Facebook

Dr. Russell Dohner of Rushville is among the latest inductees to the Illinois Department on Aging’s Senior Hall of Fame

The 88-year-old physician has treated patients in west central Illinois since 1955.  He still makes house calls, patient rounds at the local hospital and nursing home, and is known to charge patients only $5.00 for the entire cost of visits. Dohner served as the 2013 Illinois State Fair Parade Grand Marshal.

From the Dept. on Aging: 

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Same-Sex Marriage
6:27 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Rallying Cry For Marriage: One Man, One Woman

LInda Jernigan of Richton Park (a suburb of Chicago) says she used to be a lesbian, but God saved her; she says marriage for same-sex couples is not a civil right.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

A day after supporters of same-sex marriage rallied at the Illinois Capitol, opponents had their turn. Thousands gathered at the statehouse Wednesday, Oct. 23, urging the Illinois House to uphold traditional marriage.

The event started with a prayer led by Monsignor Carl Kemme, of the Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

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District 186
4:28 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Superintendent Search Draws Feedback From Springfield Community

Scott McFarland
Credit sps186.org

A search firm hired by district 186 to help in the hunt for a new Springfield public schools superintendent recently shared its findings after turning to parents, teachers, and the community at large for feedback. Board member Scott McFarland joins us to discuss some of the findings, and talk about the profile of qualities being sought after in a superintendent candidate: 

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Harvest Desk
11:41 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Expected Bumper Crop Has Corn Prices Dropping

Farmers have been riding a wave of high corn prices in recent years, but an expected bumper crop has corn prices dropping.
Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

On a clear fall day in central Iowa, Aaron Lehman climbed into the cab of his green combine with a screwdriver to do some maintenance. He was hoping his corn had a couple more weeks to grow before harvesting because the price per bushel this fall is much lower than it has been for the past three years.

Corn farmers have been riding high prices for the last few years. But an expected bumper crop has prices falling this harvest season, and many economists expect the price of corn to drop to its lowest level in recent years.

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Education
9:15 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Interview With Education Coalition of Macon County

Data shows only 40% of 3rd grade students in Macon County are reading at grade level.  That same percentage applies to those in 11th grade.  1 of every 4 students also fails to graduate high school.  

The alarming statistics are similar to what many areas are facing.  The Education Coalition of Macon County is an initiative reviewing the problem and tying to find solutions.   That includes taking different approaches to what has become the standard for education.

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Pensions And Pay
6:13 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Turning The Tables: Legislator Files To Cut Quinn's Budget

Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, says "the chief executive has attacked the legislature, which shows how dysfunctional we are. If they haven't done their job, then they shouldn't get the full appropriation that we did, and I suggest that that appropriation be cut."
Credit ILGA.gov

  Several months after Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed legislators' salaries from the state budget -- one lawmaker wants to turn the tables on him.

Gov. Quinn says lawmakers shouldn't be paid until they overhaul the state's pensions. A judge rejected that move and the governor's appeal is still pending before the state Supreme Court, so lawmakers are getting their paychecks.

Nevertheless, legislators are still offended by Quinn's "attack," as Rep. David Harris, R - Arlington Heights, describes it.

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Veto Session So Far: Nothing Happening

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers returned to Springfield Tuesday for their fall veto session. Guns, gay marriage and corporate tax breaks are on the agenda. But nothing is moving yet.

Supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage are rallying in the Capitol this week, but the sponsor of marriage legislation won't say when or if he'll call it for a vote.

Meanwhile, OfficeMax and Archer Daniels Midland are among the companies seeking millions of dollars in tax breaks to keep their corporate headquarters in Illinois, but those proposals are still being negotiated.

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Same-Sex Marriage
5:40 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Politics, Romance, Practicality and Religion Mix in Marriage Debate

Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Back on Valentine's Day, the state Senate approved legislation that would allow gays and lesbians to get married in Illinois. The hope then was that Illinois would become the tenth state to legalize same-sex marriage.  Eight months later, it still hasn't happened.

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Statehouse
5:54 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Springfield Bishop Bars Same Sex Marriage Supporters From Cathedral

Bishop Thomas Paprocki

Springfield Catholic Bishop Thomas Paprocki sent this memo out earlier in the day Tuesday, prior to the march and rally in support of same sex marriage at the statehouse:

The Rainbow Sash Movement has encouraged Roman Catholics to come to Springfield to “have a loud Catholic presence for marriage equality.” They have announced plans to gather at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 4:30 p.m. just before the 5:15 p.m. Mass to stand in the Cathedral and indicate that they are there to pray the rosary for “marriage equality.”

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Same Sex Marriage
3:59 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

March For Marriage, But No Vote Certain

Supporters of same sex marriage huddled under umbrellas as they cheered on musicians and politicians at a rally in front of the capitol Tuesday.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Rain didn't stop advocates for same-sex marriage, who rallied under umbrellas by the hundreds in front of the Illinois Capitol Tuesday, Oct. 22. A measure to legalize same-sex marriage passed the state Senate earlier this year, but has stalled in the Illinois House.

There were two types of headliners:

-musicians, like Marcus Terrell, of "America's Got Talent" fame, who sang a "song about true love" ("and as we all know here today true love in any form is just natural," he said).

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