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 has the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. And Decatur has the highest in the state.
Caterpillar announced hundreds of layoffs this summer and that is now showing up in the jobless rate. Decatur's rate has gone up to 13.2 percent, 2 full percentage points above where it was a year ago. And it's also at the highest level it's been this time of year in about three decades.
Former Gov. George Ryan says he's still adjusting to private life in the weeks since his release from home confinement. Ryan spoke briefly to The Associated Press Thursday from his home in Kankakee. He says he traveled to Springfield over the weekend to celebrate the birthday of his triplet daughters, one of whom lives in that city. He also visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Museum on Saturday with family.
Illinois officials say this year's state fair had the highest attendance levels in more than a decade. The governor's office says Thursday that more than 961,000 people attended the fair during its 11-day run this month. That's up almost 5 percent from last year and the highest since 2002, when 1.2 million people went through the fair's gates.
Bradley University has revealed former U.S. Secretary of Transportation and congressman Ray LaHood's new role at the school's Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service.
Bradley announced Wednesday that LaHood has been named an honorary senior distinguished fellow at the institute. In that role he's expected to be a guest lecturer for Bradley students and be part of public policy events on campus.
Regulators have signed off on a new transmission line that'd cut through central Illinois. The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/15024Oj ) the Illinois Commerce Commission approved all but 30 miles of Ameren's Illinois Rivers Project during a meeting Tuesday. The $1 billion, 380-mile transmission line would run through 19 counties, traveling from Quincy to the Indiana border. It'd affect about 8,400 landowners.
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.
Recent meetings of the committee have occurred in private, making it difficult to determine progress. But Nekritz says she's hopeful:
Illinois' top speed limit will go up on many highways beginning in January. Governor Pat Quinn has signed a new law increasing the speed limit from 65 to 70 m.p.h. Quinn bucked the advice of his Department of Transportation, which opposed the legislation. IDOT says a higher speed limit will raise average speeds leading to more crashes and fatalities. But the measure's sponsor, Rep. Jerry Costello (D_Smithton) says more accidents happen because of vehicles traveling at different speeds ... not because of higher speeds.
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.
Danelle Myer owns a small vegetable farm and like many other small farmers, she’s passionate about the kind of operation she wants to grow: a small, local business.
Students in Illinois public schools that teach sex education will now be taught about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases _ not just abstinence. Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Friday that requires schools to provide the information. It takes effect Jan. 1. Sen. Heather Steans sponsored the bill. The Chicago Democrat says it's intended to help prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
Using a hand-held cell phone while driving in Illinois will be illegal on Jan. 1. Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Friday aimed at reducing distracted driving. It requires motorists to use speaker phones or headsets that allow for one-digit or audio dialing. Illinois joins 11 other states and Washington, D.C. in banning hand-held phone use on the road. Texting while driving is already illegal in Illinois. Sen. John Mulroe -- a Chicago Democrat and sponsor -- says he wants motorists to ``keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.''
It’s August. The days are growing shorter, fall is approaching, but summer isn’t done just yet. All over the country folks are flocking to that ultimate summer tradition: the state fair.
Carnival rides and games, meat on a stick, livestock competitions – the Midwest does state fairs up right. And for many, summer in the Midwest isn't complete without a trip to the state fair. For others, a virtual visit will have to do.
Most people are probably familiar with the story of 'Little Women', a novel by Louisa May Alcott about four sisters living during the Civil War and their quests to find meaning in life and true love. What you might not know is that it's been made into a musical. You can see a local production of that this weekend at the Theatre in the Park in New Salem.
We recently spoke with three men who are part of the production; Austin Dambacher who plays Professor Bhear, Rhett Warner who plays Laurie, and Will Barnhart, the director: