News

Sean McMahon / The Field Museum

The Tully monster is Illinois' state fossil, but until recently scientists were not sure what kind of creature it was. A team of researchers compared thousands of specimens and were finally able to classify the Tully Monster.

Rachel Otwell

It's now close to a year since Illinois had a budget in place. The impasse has led to increased attention for what many consider a financial crisis. On Sunday, comptroller Leslie Munger announced pay for the legislature and its constitutional officers will be delayed, as have many payments for vendors and service-providers . The amount of unpaid bills is nearing $8 billion. Meanwhile, some members of the legislature are trying to pass a measure that would cease their pay as well - and make it contingent on passing a "balanced budget."

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois legislators should expect a delay in their paychecks.

Comptroller Leslie Munger announced Sunday that elected officials' pay will wait in line, just like other bills.

Vendors and agencies that perform work for the state are waiting months to be paid. Until now, officials' paychecks were essentially given preferential treatment.

With a handful of Constitutional officers and 177 state legislators, the paychecks collectively total $1.3 million a month, or $15.6 for the year.

Illinois legislators should expect a delay in their paychecks.

Comptroller Leslie Munger announced yesterday  that elected officials' pay will wait in line, just like other bills. Vendors and agencies that perform work for the state are waiting months to be paid.

With a handful of Constitutional officers and 177 state legislators ... the paychecks total one point three million dollars a month.

Shakespeare400Chicago.com

William Shakespeare comes alive this year in Chicago, as the city celebrates the poet and playwright’s legacy, marking the four centuries since his death in 1616 with a fabulous international arts festival.  With more than 850 events in venues across the city, the Shakespeare 400 Chicago Festival offers exciting plays, operas, art exhibitions, dance and even cuisine that will make his works come to life. You’ll want to brush up on your Shakespeare and plan a Chicago visit this spring or summer, when many events are scheduled.

Scott Griessel/flickr, user: creatista & trailheadcenter.org

Welcome to the new podcast where we create conversations about spirituality and how it intersects with everyday life. Check out the program page for a little more info, if you wish - but for now, let's dive right in.

flickr/jmorgan

All Illinois residents -- no matter how rich, no matter how poor -- pay the same income tax rate. Now a plan is afoot to change that, with a constitutional amendment, and to have the wealthy pay more.

Sarah Mueller WUIS

An Illinois lawmaker want teenagers accused of murder to have a lawyer present when questioned by law enforcement. 

After months without meeting, the governor and legislative leaders gathered behind closed doors this week, with apparently no progress toward a budget agreement. Speculation continues the Attorney General might go to court to stop state workers from being paid without an appropriation. Some believe such a move could force the governor and leaders to reach a deal. Others aren't so sure.  The State Journal-Register's Doug Finke joins the panel.

epsom.bandcamp.com

This week we chat about upcoming arts shows and music shows, and we talk vinyl and the magic of listening to albums in their entirety because Saturday the 16th is Record Store Day! Tune in:

Events discussed this week include:

Aubrey Fletcher knew she wanted to work on a dairy farm ever since she was a little girl.

“I do remember my mom asking, ‘Are you sure that’s what you want to do?’” Fletcher recalls.

Fletcher knew the work was tough, she grew up milking cows every day. After college she and her husband wanted to return to his family farm, but it wasn’t making financial sense.

“The farm couldn’t necessarily  provide both of us with salaries,” says Fletcher. “So we thought, ‘Why not take our premium milk and take that a little further?’”

flickr/Robert Kuykendall

A Chatham, Illinois man is jailed on $250,000 cash bond after being accused in Missouri of possessing components for possible pipe bombs.

Matt Turner/flickr

An Illinois House committee has approved a call for moving state government jobs to the Springfield area.  But its only a resolution and doesn't force that action.    

The sponsor, Republican Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez of Leland Grove,  says moving the jobs to the area would cut costs for the state and lead to more efficiency while also boosting the local economy.  

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

Her voice trembled as she greeted me on the phone.  “Gam?” she began.  “I really messed up.”  My beloved oldest grandchild Bella poured out her tale of woe, involving a careless remark that hurt her closest friend.

Fast forward three weeks when an exuberant Bella FaceTimed me to show off her mouthful of shiny, braces-free teeth on the way home from the orthodontist.

Rachel Otwell

A student at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana was charged with murder this week, after she turned herself in and showed authorities the body of a newborn in her back-pack. Authorities say Lindsay Johnson - 20 years old from Monee - suffocated her son last month after giving birth to him in a dorm bathroom.

Landmarks Illinois

The former YWCA building in Springfield is in the city's downtown historic district, but an historic preservation group says it's in dire need of repair.

Landmarks Illinois put the building on its annual list of the state's most endangered historic sites.

public domain

High school seniors who plan to go on to college should be finalizing their dorm and roommate choices about now.

But this year, those decisions aren’t about who brings the mini-fridge. With a total lack of  state funding for higher education, it’s about which schools and programs will be fiscally stable, or whether to go at all.

Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The speaker of the Illinois House made a rare policy speech during a debate Tuesday afternoon. It was intended to put in context legislative Democrats’ long-running dispute with the Republican governor over state spending.

TRANSCRIPT: On Tuesday afternoon, Statehouse reporters got an email from the spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan. “Let me suggest listening to the speaker’s comments … on the floor,” the message read.

Evalyn Sanguinetti at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers have taken the first step toward eliminating the office of Lieutenant Governor. Estimates show the proposed constitutional amendment could save $1.6 million dollars a year.

The lieutenant governor doesn't actually have to do much: The Constitution vaguely says whoever holds the office "shall perform the duties ... delegated to him by the Governor."

This year, the Lt. Gov is actually a “her," Evelyn Sanguinetti. She led a local government consolidation task force.

Sarah Mueller

Cities in Illinois and across the country have laws regulating panhandling. But courts are tossing them out, and Springfield’s ordinance could be next. How can local governments balance First Amendment rights and maintaining public order? 

Rachel Otwell

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Each year over 500 people in central Illinois who are victims of sexual violence are given counseling, legal and medical advice and support, and even clothing if needed, all at no charge to them. That’s through Springfield's Prairie Center Against Sexual Assault – in the state there are 28 other similar groups, all part of a state coalition.

Statehouse exit sign
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' top legislators and the governor met yesterday for the first time this year. There's no indication it led to any resolution of the state's prolonged budget stalemate.

The private meeting lasted roughly an hour.

Neither Gov. Bruce Rauner nor any of the four legislative leaders had any direct comment on how it went (they slipped of the governor's capitol office through back doors that enabled them to avoid media waiting outside) but Speaker Michael Madigan made clear where he stands shortly after in a rare, ten minute speech on the House floor.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' information technology is getting an update --- one the State's CIO has said is necessary. He's said it's like state government's stuck in 1986 rather than 2016.

One IT overhaul took effect in late February. The state shifted from an old-school system of renewing professional licenses --- be it for roof contractors, nail technicians, or dentists -- to an online renewal system.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / N

Lawmakers got a look at Gov. Bruce Rauner's school funding proposal today. 

 

As promised, the governor's plan gives every district the full amount of state aid due under the current school funding formula. But that formula, which relies heavily on property taxes, has been called the most inequitable plan in the nation. 

WUIS

Sean Crawford talks with the State Journal-Register's Tim Landis:

AP

The University of Illinois has announced a pair of settlements involving former female basketball players who sued the school and its former football coach, Tim Beckman.

Rank-and-file Illinois lawmakers frustrated by the 10-month state budget impasse are meeting on their own in bipartisan groups to discuss potential solutions. 

flickr/DennisCarr

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he'll appeal an Obama administration decision last month denying the state millions in federal disaster assistance.  The governor's office says late December’s severe flooding in central and southern Illinois caused more than 16 million dollars in damage.

c-uphd.org

In Illinois, House bill 6073 would make it so transgender people can change the sex designation on their birth certificate without having to have reassignment surgery. Proponents of the measure say it's a needed change since not all trans people want the surgery, and many who do can't afford it. 

flickr/Roger Goun

Illinois representatives are debating how much freedom high school journalists should have to criticize their school district's administration.  But state educators and local school districts say they worry about being held responsible for what their schools publish.

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