An expert on campaign finance says his studies show that government funding of state level races is better for voters and candidates. Michael Miller of the University of Illinois Springfield makes the case in his new book "Subsidizing Democracy: How Public Funding Changes Elections And How It Can Work In The Future". He spoke with Bill Wheelhouse:
University of Illinois trustees are considering giving Athletic Director Mike Thomas a raise and a contract extension. Trustee James Montgomery said Thursday that under the proposal Thomas' base pay would be increased to $554,000 and extended by two years. Thomas was hired in 2011 on a five-year contract with a base salary of $475,000.
A trustees' committee will consider the proposal Thursday in Chicago. Any changes would eventually have to be approved by the full board of trustees that governs the university.
When it's a matter of life and death, you call for an ambulance. But seconds can save lives. Having an ambulance close by is a luxury for some communities, especially in smaller, rural areas. There's a cost and often, the number of calls are too few to support it.
In Auburn, it's a similar story. But the Auburn Area Ambulance Service won't give up. The not for profit has found a way to get donations. It's launched a subscription service.
A state report shows the amount of money taxpayers owe five state pension plans hit $100.5 billion on June 30.
But that's $3 billion less when not using a counting method adopted five years ago that made the pension picture brighter.
Auditor General William Holland released a report Wednesday that estimates the total retirement-fund debt based on a process called ``smoothing'' _ considering gains and losses during the past five years.
Without smoothing and instead considering current market value of assets, the total unfunded liability is $97 billion.
Illinois drivers should get ready to pay more for insurance. Crain's Chicago Business reports (http://bit.ly/1ggCmGt ) major insurers in Illinois are raising rates. Northbrook-based Allstate says in a regulatory filing that rates for customers will climb between 2.5 and 3.5 percent later this month. Esurance rates are rising about 3.2 percent in late January, while Geico expects to boost prices by 2 to 3 percent in March.
Gov. Pat Quinn is supporting his prisons director after a Republican challenger called for the director to be fired. Sen. Kirk Dillard is a GOP candidate for governor. He said Wednesday that Democrat Quinn should fire S.A. ``Tony'' Godinez for hiring a man with arrests and apparent one-time gang ties.
Dillard says it's ``outrageous'' that ex-gang members are ``running the prisons.'' Xadrian McCraven was an $111,000-a-year senior policy adviser to the Department of Corrections' parole chief before he was fired Friday.
Midwest farmers who rely on healthy soybean harvests have one more reason to consider adding cereal rye into their crop rotation in 2014.
Research conducted in Illinois indicates certain cover crops left in the ground during the winter make the soil less vulnerable to diseases that attack the leaves and root systems of soybeans planted the following spring.
Gov. Pat Quinn's running mate will continue working in Connecticut until March 1, just before Illinois' primary election. The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://bit.ly/19SJTfX ) Paul Vallas will keep working as superintendent of Bridgeport public schools.
Vallas submitted his resignation to Bridgeport officials on Dec. 31 and is required to give a 60-day notice. Illinois' primary election will be held March 18.
Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a pension-reform measure for the Chicago Park District.
The legislation Quinn signed Tuesday is designed to deal with a $971 million deficit in the district's pension program. When lawmakers approved it in November, experts hailed it as example of compromise for what was then an elusive solution to the five state pension systems' $100 billion hole.
Passavant Area Hospital in Jacksonville could soon be affiliated with Memorial Health System, which already oversees hospitals in Springfield, Taylorville and Lincoln. The Passavant Board has agreed to partner with Memorial, pending regulatory approval.
Jennifer Gill was chosen as the new superintendent for Springfield District 186 after a months-long search. But negotiations have yet to be finalized. Gill, who currently works for McLean County schools, says the holidays slowed talks, but expects a contract will get done.
Iowa and Illinois have a lot in common, but look below the surface to see some important differences. That's what paleontologists have been doing for decades. Their work has resulted in the discovery of fossils that show prehistoric giant camels and mammoths once called Iowa home. That work and more will be part of a lecture Wednesday night in Springfield.
Chris Widga, Assistant Curator of Geology at the Illinois State Museum, will deliver a presentation "Recent Adventures in Iowa Paleontology."
With the new year comes the annual process of crafting a new state budget. Money will be tight, despite a pension law that's supposed to save $160 billion dollars over the next 30 years.
Legislators who voted to cut state employees' and teachers' retirement benefits say they had no choice. Nearly a fifth of the state budget was going into Illinois' pension systems. Meaning there was less money to spend elsewhere. The pension law is supposed to ease that so-called "squeeze."
The online application system to apply for permits was officially launched in Illinois on Sunday. On Monday, Illinois State Police said they had received 4,525 applications for concealed carry permits were received within 24 hours. The other 6,500 applications came from firearms instructors who the state let apply early for permits to help test the functionality of the online application system.
The snowstorm that dumped several inches on Illinois has moved out of the state. But high winds and extremely cold temperatures make for another night of dangerous conditions. Interstates have slick spots from where blowing snow has covered the road. Many secondary roads are in much worse shape. Ann Schneider, Illinois' Transportation Secretary, says her agency has been advising the public to avoid driving...
"And so it's still very treacherous for motorists and we strongly encourage motorists if they don't have to travel, please don't. Stay home," Schneider said.
The Secretary of State's office is closing all 138 of its facilities around Illinois. Agency spokesman Dave Druker ) says officials decided to shut the locations on Monday because of bad road conditions in central and southern Illinois, along with the dangerous cold in northern Illinois. Offices are set to reopen on Tuesday.
The University of Illinois Springfield is closed Monday due to weather conditions. UIS is operating under its essential services policy.
Springfield School District 186 is closed Monday, as is the Jacksonville School District and most other area schools.
Other colleges closed on Monday include Bradley University, Illinois College, Illinois State University, Lincoln College, Lincoln Land Community College, Robert Morris University, SIU School of Medicine and Western Illinois University,
The Springfield Office of Public Works is preparing its response for a winter storm as the National Weather Service has predicted heavy snowfall between midnight and noon on Sunday.
A Snow Emergency will go into effect Saturday night at 8 p.m. and will remain in effect until Tuesday at 12 a.m. When a snow emergency is declared, all vehicles must be removed from the routes within four hours of activation.
The City of Springfield issued the following news release:
It's been more than 25 years since workers renovating Abraham Lincoln's home found a letter fragment in a mouse's nest inside a wall. But researchers think they've finally identified the author of the mystery letter as newspaper editor Andrew Johnston.
School administrators in Illinois say they're closely monitoring the forecast to decide whether to cancel or delay classes because of bone-chilling weather that's expected to hit the state. The cold is coming as many students are preparing to return to school following holiday break.
The National Weather Service says air temperatures below zero will be accompanied by dangerous wind chills Monday and Tuesday.
This week's topics include the state's system for accepting Concealed-Carry applications, the many lawsuits filed against the recent law changing the state's pension system, and a look back at some top stories from 2013.
Jacksonville's Passavant Area Hospital is going to become part of Memorial Health System. It will become the fourth hospital to go under the Memorial umbrella. A joint news release says the two organizations have signed an affiliation agreement. It still needs regulatory approval.
Passavant is a 93 bed hospital with about 900 full and part time workers. Memorial's three hospitals have more than 500 beds. It employs more than 5,700.
Along with Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, the System also has hospitals in Lincoln and Taylorville.
A modest but perceptible uptick in the number of wolves roaming in from Wisconsin has forced Illinois to begin considering the possibility that permanent wolf populations could take hold.
Illinois' wolves were hunted to extinction 150 years ago. But since a first confirmed sighting in 2002, wolf sightings have gone from rare to regular. There have been at least five the last three years. Nearly all are thought to have come from Wisconsin, which has more than 800 wolves.
A state law taking effect yesterday limits the use of free on-street parking by the disabled. Now, only motorists whose impairments prevent them from being able to pay a meter can park for free in those spots.
Before, anyone with a disability parking placard could do so. Now, motorists will have to get statements from doctors affirming they cannot feed parking meters, for example, because they use wheelchairs or cannot walk more than 20 feet.