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Child care providers who accept a state subsidy are “trying to hold on,” as one provider says. Funding for the Child Care Assistance Program dried up last month. Many of them converged on the state Capitol building Thursday to urge legislators and the governor to fund the program through June, the end of the state’s fiscal year.

The rally comes a day after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner gave his first budget address, acknowledging the costs of having the program run out of money. “Families are worried about how to care for their children,” Rauner said.

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Pickled Hysteria

Feb 20, 2015
Brett Palmer headshot
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

On a frigid January evening, I, along with other members of my church, decided to donate time to serving a hot meal to people planning to spend their night sleeping on a childlike cot in a warm, temperature controlled Salvation Army homeless shelter. I have no idea what to expect on a night like this. So many misperceptions of homeless people that had been drilled into my brain throughout my life were reappearing in my consciousness yet again. “Are they gonna take my money? Where are my keys?” Confused, nervous and skeptical, I begin to wonder why I’m here.

Turbines at the Twin Groves Wind Farm near Bloomington
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Legislation introduced in Springfield calls for stricter statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy standards.

Advocates for clean energy say that increasing the amount of energy generated by renewable resources, such as wind and solar power, will bring jobs to Illinois. A large group of bipartisan lawmakers have signed on to a proposal to increase energy efficiency standards to 20 percent by 2025, then 35 percent by 2030.

Nick Magrisso of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition says Illinois exports some of that energy to other states, which helps create jobs.

Lawmaker Unsatisfied With Little League Decision

Feb 19, 2015

After a summer of cheering on Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West team as it advanced through the Little League national series, critics are now clamoring. 

Earlier this month the team was stripped of its championship title.  

Little League officials say the Chicago team broke the rules, by recruiting players outside its boundaries.

It’s a decision that Representative Monique Davis, a Chicago Democrat, says is unfair.

 

Amanda Vinicky

Small-business owners are giving mixed reviews regarding the latest Senate proposal designed to slowly raise the minimum wage and cushion payroll costs. The legislation, which passed the Senate earlier this month and now pending in the House, would immediately bring the minimum wage from $8.25 to $9 an hour and then increase it by 50 cents per year until it reached $11  in 2019. The climb in wages would happen more gradually than called for under previous bills from sponsor Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat. 

Amanda Vinicky

With all of Illinois' deep, multi-faceted and important problems, it may seem trite to focus on something like Gov. Bruce Rauner's speech patterns. And yet, reactions to the Republican’s first State of the State address earlier this month focused less on the meat of his manifesto, and more on what many saw as a distraction: Rauner’s delivery. It was talked about enough that I thought it worth looking into, and getting an dialect expert to weigh in on whether it's genuine (as Rauner says is the case), or contrived.

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced it will hear oral arguments in the state's landmark pension-overhaul case on March 11.

Arguments will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the high court chamber in downtown Springfield.  

The Illinois General Assembly and former Gov. Pat Quinn adopted a plan in late 2013 designed to cut into the $111 billion deficit in four state pension programs built by years of underfunding.  

I Believe In Confusion

Feb 19, 2015
Larissa Mulch headshot
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

People have often asked me why I’m not straight, and I like to tell them the following: When I was four years old I sneezed and no one said “bless you” and at that moment the devil entered my soul. Of course the journey to discovering my sexuality was not nearly so simple. It was, and still is more like the yellow brick road; long, winding, Judy Garland is probably involved somehow, and it’s been very, very confusing. I believe in confusion.

Amanda Vinicky

Thirty-eight days into his term as Illinois' governor, Bruce Rauner yesterday delivered his much-anticipated budget address. Amanda Vinicky recaps the financial reckoning.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

News Analysis - Gov. Bruce Rauner’s speech did little to convey the gravity of the cuts proposed in his budget plan.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner is calling for big cuts in state spending. But some of his projected savings could be a long way off.

A huge chunk of Rauner’s budget savings comes from freezing state pensions and moving workers into more modest plans.

“We cannot continue to raise taxes on all Illinoisans in order to fund the retirement benefits of a small fraction of our residents," Rauner said.

What’s unusual about Rauner’s approach is that he’s booking the $2.2 billion in savings right away, even though it likely would be challenged in court.

Bruce Rauner at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Gov. Bruce Rauner is proposing deep spending cuts across state government. The Republican presented his first budget proposal to lawmakers Wednesday.

  Illinois’ finances are ailing. That’s been a story for years, but the situation got a lot worse at the beginning of the year when a tax cut took effect.

Rauner is proposing significant cuts to everything from healthcare for the poor to universities.

U Of I Responds To Governor's Budget

Feb 18, 2015

A top University of Illinois administrator says everything is on the table after Republican Governor Bruce Rauner proposed a thirty percent cut to state higher education funding.

Christophe Pierre, the U of I's Vice President for Academic Affairs, calls today's (Wednesday's) budget proposal disappointing. He says the university has other sources of revenue, but many come with restrictions on how the money is spent.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

One of the few areas not threatened with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget ax today was public school education. But at a conference of school leaders, reaction was lukewarm. 

This is a story you have to hear. Click below to listen:

Good Afternoon.

President Cullerton

Speaker Madigan

Leader Radogno

Leader Durkin

Lieutenant Governor Sanguinetti

Attorney General Madigan

Secretary White

Comptroller Munger

Treasurer Frerichs

Members of the General Assembly,

Thank you for attending today. Thank you for your service to the people of

Over the past week, we’ve commemorated the life of Illinois’ greatest leader, Abraham Lincoln.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner budget address begins to end months of speculation about his specific plans to address the state budget deficit.

Illinois Lawmakers is produced in partnership by WSIU-TV Carbondale, WTVP-TV Peoria, and Illinois Public Media, Urbana.

Springfield police say a report of an attempted child abduction Tuesday afternoon turned out to be false.

Ball Chatham school officials sent a note to parents earlier today urging caution and asking for the public's help in the case.  An elementary school student said he was approached by a man as he left his school bus at his home.  The student indicated he ran from the man.  

Police say the person identified by the student  was interviewed.  They say the incident did NOT occur as originally reported and that was no contact with the child. 

I Believe In Deadlines

Feb 18, 2015
Jillian Cole headshot
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

Imagine everyone could live forever - never aging, never worrying about having time to do the things we envision because we have limitless years. However, such a life is impossible. Humans are not made to last. Though it seems terrible to be confined to only one hundred years, It’s a blessing. Having a deadline for life, and for many things in life, is beneficial to mankind, and to the individuals who live or have lived. If humans could live forever, I’m inclined to believe it wouldn’t be a good thing.

Things To Watch In Rauner's Budget Address

Feb 18, 2015
Bruce Rauner at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Since the night he was elected, Gov. Bruce Rauner has
repeatedly said he wants Illinois to be the most competitive yet compassionate
state in the nation.
 
 He's also quick to add one caveat: ``We don't have the money to be able to be
compassionate.''     
 
 As the Republican prepares to propose his first budget Wednesday for a state
that's billions of dollars in the red, many lawmakers and advocates for
low-income, elderly and disabled people are bracing for major cuts to areas such
as Medicaid and mental health care.   
 
 

Kids Left Behind Bars

Feb 18, 2015
WBEZ

There’s a kid locked up in the Cook County juvenile jail right now who isn’t supposed to be there.

It happens all the time.  Even after a judge has ordered their release…lots of kids wait weeks, even months to be picked up.   Before you get angry about deadbeat parents out there ….

The kids we’re talking about here are wards of the state of Illinois…and their guardian…the one leaving them in jail…is the Department of Children and Family Services or DCFS.

In just the past few years this has happened to hundreds of kids:

Listen to reporter Rhonda Gillespie talk to Jamey Dunn about her story on funding for youth programs. 

Nearly three-dozen non-profit organizations — mostly in the Chicago area — were told Jan. 29 that money they were expected to get as part of an $8 million Youth Development grant had been blocked by Gov. Bruce Rauner. The new Republican governor has made a point of undoing as many of former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s lame-duck actions as possible, withdrawing promised funding, blocking contracts and rescinding executive orders.

Just how Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner plans to deal with Illinois' budget and its deficit largely remains a mystery. Rauner is set to finally unveil his ideas Wednesday, when he gives his budget address. However, the legislature's leaders got a preview the day before.

House Speaker Michael Madigan walked out the large, glass doors of the governor's antechamber, with this to say about his meeting with Rauner:

"The governor simply said that he's got some tough medicine to deliver."

Dusty Rhodes

Governor Bruce Rauner was scheduled to deliver the keynote address at a meeting of public school leaders today in Springfield. Instead, he sent his new education czar.  

Beth Purvis, a member of Gov. Rauner's transition team, had been in office just about two hours. In fact, her exact title hadn't been determined. But for the past 10 years, Purvis has been the CEO of the Chicago International Charter School. 

 

uis.edu

Faculty at the University of Illinois Springfield will be unionized for the first time in two decades. 

The campus last had a faculty union when it was known as Sangamon State University.  But that was disbanded when it became part of the University of Illinois in the mid 90's.  

137 faculty members voted in favor of a new union which will negotiate issues from wages and benefits to shared governance.  A final vote total was unavailable.

Rachel Otwell

WUIS is once again soliciting original writings from the Springfield-area. We are looking for stories that take a maximum of 4 minutes to read out loud (abbreviated versions are fine - we can post your whole story online.) Poets are also encouraged to submit.

We want stories that are at least loosely tied to the theme of spring - be they a rebirth or reinvention, or a story that is set during that time of the year. Use your imagination, get creative, and send your submissions to rotwe2@uis.edu with the subject line: SPRING STORY.

SJ-R

SJ-R Business Editor Tim Landis talks with WUIS' Sean Crawford about potential changes in the local restaurant scene. a delay in state tax return processing, a status update on home sales and a postscript for the Bel Aire Motel.

Size Matters

Feb 17, 2015
Kaytlin Jacoby
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

I have never been thin.  Since my earliest memory, “normal-size” clothing has not fit me.  I remember being seven, distressed that I had to shop the tired floral prints of the “husky” sizes.  I remember the day I was told that I was too big to wear two-piece swimsuits.  I remember that I stopped swimming entirely because no swim suit fit comfortably.  I remember wearing trendy clothes that were too tight in middle school because I wanted to wear the pretty outfits all the other girls wore.  I remember crying after a day of shopping because everything looked bad on me.  I remember averting

With the aim of spurring growth in Illinois' tech sector, Governor Bruce Rauner has created the Innovate Illinois Advisory Council.

A group of business leaders will hopefully bring new ideas to the table to help improve the climate for technology business growth in the state.

Co-chairs for the council are Laura Frerichs, director of the University of Illinois research park and Mark Glennon, a managing director of  the consulting firm Ninth Street Advisors.

The panel is to begin meeting this spring.

Midwest Travel: Hyde Park - Mr. Obama's Neighborhood

Feb 16, 2015
Luiz Gadelha Jr./flickr

Our series on midwest travel continues with a look at Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. 

Mary Galligan is a freelance travel writer whose latest article for the Illinois Times explores Hyde Park.  It's known now for being home to President Obama and his family, but there is a lot more to this area.

Read Mary Galligan's article in the Illinois Times.

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