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Photo: Gary Price

This year marks the 40th anniversary since the fall of Saigon.  An event coming up tomorrow night will provide accounts of the war:

  • May 19, Vietnam: First Encounters

A panel discussion on the fall of Saigon in April 1975. Panel members include Tom Jones, a Navy Corpsman assigned to the Marines; Tom Bowman, an Army enlisted man; and two Vietnamese boat people, Patrick Lam and Pham Thien Khoc, an officer in the South Vietnamese Army. Moderated by Mark DePue, head of the presidential library’s Oral History Program.

Michael J. Madigan headshot
ilga.gov

This week, Illinois House Democrats defeated Governor Rauner's "Right to Work" agenda.  Also, with the Illinois Supreme Court's decision last week, the future of state pension funding is still in question.

Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren / Harvard

A recent study showed that children who grow up in poverty have a better shot at economic mobility depending on where they live.

The study, by economists Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren of Harvard University, was based on earning records for millions of families and is part of an ongoing effort called The Equality of Opportunity Project.

"We show that the area in which a child grow up has significant causal effects on her prospects for upward mobility," the report states.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS

These days, it seems like every agency in Illinois is complaining about cutbacks. Public school officials, however, are seasoned veterans, having seen the state slash their funding repeatedly over the past few years. Now, they argue how the pain is distributed. 

WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois Democrats have knocked one of the new Republican governor's top priorities down to an easy defeat. The Illinois House yesterday voted against Bruce Rauner's notion of local right-to-work zones. The issue is highly contentious on its own. But a broader division was also at play. Before we get to the right-to-work debate, it's important to rewind some.

WUIS

Tune in this week. Scott Faingold of the Illinois Times and Rachel are joined by Yona Stamatis, a professor of ethnomusicology at UIS and violinist for the Illinois Symphony Orchestra and her student, Christina Shao, who will play the song of the week:

Events & other items discussed this week include:

Zach Bernard

New ways to tackle Illinois' underfunded pension systems could be emerging, as the Republican governor appears to be backing away from his plan.

There's good reason many lawmakers are feeling flummoxed. Illinois' budget is already sagging. And with last week's state Supreme Court decision tossing a major pension law, the deficit is larger still.

The court decision was unequivocal - it's not constitutional to cut state employees' retirement benefits.

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com 2010 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

A recent study quantified the hours spent by moms and dads with their children aged 3-12 during the years 1965-2010.  In 1965, moms spent 10.5 hours each week engaged with their kids and dads spent 2.6 hours each week engaged with their kids.  In 2010, moms spent an average of 13.7 hours each week and dads spent 7.2 hours.  The study concluded that mothers spending more time with children is not necessarily linked to kids’ success.

Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois House held its first hearing on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposal to address the state’s unfunded pension liability. 

Under the governor's plan, employees would keep all the retirement benefits they have logged so far, but would see a cut to their benefits going forward. Democrats on the House's pension committee said last week’s Illinois Supreme Court opinion, overturning pension changes passed two years ago, rules out that idea.

Just over a year ago, Tracy Dethlefs learned she has stage 1 breast cancer. Since then, she estimates she’s charted some 10,000 miles travelling from her farm near Loup City in central Nebraska to area hospitals for treatment. Every surgery, round of chemotherapy and radiation treatment was a road trip.

“Radiation treatments usually (take) only about 5 minutes (on) a day that they have to see you,” Dethlefs said. “But for a week, for seven weeks in a row, you’re driving every single day to the cancer treatment center. We’re about an hour away from cancer centers.”

Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Bruce Rauner's right-to-work proposal will get a hearing today in the Illinois House. Unions are putting pressure on lawmakers to vote against the proposal.

Though the Illinois House is set to vote on the Republican governor's idea of local right-to-work zones, it's not because Rauner's pushing for a vote.

Gov. Rauner unveiled the concept in late January, during an appearance in Decatur, and has talked about it a lot since. But no actual legislation's been introduced. There are only weeks left in the legislative session.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

The former chairman of Amtrak told Illinois lawmakers Wednesday that service cuts are inevitable should Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed 40 percent funding cut takes effect.

Fifty-six Amtrak trains run daily in Illinois. They run from Chicago to St. Louis, to Carbondale, to Quincy and up to Milwaukee, and more travelers are riding them.

Amtrak's former chairman Thomas Carper says he can't say how many, or which of those routes will be dropped.

But he says that will happen if Illinois doesn't come through with about $42 million.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

The Illinois State Museum, located next to the statehouse in Springfield, is being renamed for the late U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon.

Dixon passed away last year, but he left behind a legacy of service and the ability to work in a bipartisan manner.

Several Illinois leaders gathered for the dedication ceremony. House Speaker Michael Madigan started as a state representative in 1971, when Dixon was a state senator.

"He was always a joy to be with," Madigan said. "Always a laugh, old story, reminiscing about whatever it may be which concerned a bottle of beer."

flickr/dborman

Illinois House Democrats continued to advance budget means that would restore funding to human services programs that the governor proposes cutting.

Republicans continue to question Democrats' motive. They say it's more of a partisan play than a real budget vote.

GOP Rep. Ron Sandack from Downers Grove complained that the measures did not go through typical budget procedures.

"We gotta get past this and actually engage in a budget process that's inclusive, bipartisan and actually moves the needle," Sandack said. "This does nothing but waste time."

WUIS Education Desk logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

All signs point to more charter schools in our future. So I got a crash course from Christopher Lubienski. Click below to listen.

IHPA

If you live in Springfield, you may have noticed there's a lot of empty space downtown that goes unused. But some people are trying to change that, by rehabbing historic buildings and turning them into residential space or businesses. Illinois tops the lists of states that used a federal tax incentive to rehab buildings that are privately owned and on the list of historical sites. Projects last year include an overhaul of Chicago's Wrigley Building, and Peoria's Hotel Pere Marquette. Carol Dyson is a tax incentives coordinator and architect with the state's historic preservation agency.

Grow Springfield

Bringing together those who care about community gardens and urban farming is the goal of Grow Springfield.  A network of organizations are working to support existing community gardens and open opportunities for more.  

Lindsay Record with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and Joe Eby of  the Springfield Urban League join us to talk more about Grow Springfield.  Record says it got rolling with a USDA grant:
 

Red Molly 5/22 Bedrock 66 Live!

May 13, 2015

Friday, May 22 at Homespun Republic, 8 pm with Tim Shelton

Click Here for Tickets

"From Day One, Red Molly conjured musical magic. A decade later, they've honed their songwriting, their covers, their playing and, above all, their harmonies into something joyful and sublime."
-John Platt, WFUV FM, Sunday Breakfast

Illinois State Senator Pat McGuire headshot
ilga.gov

High school students taking advanced placement exams know they have to score at least a 3 on a 5-point scale to pass. What they don't know is which Illinois universities will give them credit for that score.

Credit Little_brown_bat;_close-up_of_nose_with_fungus,_New_York,_Oct._2008._(5765048289).jpg

Illinois wildlife officials say a fungal disease that's killed millions of bats in the U.S. has turned up in Adams, Carroll and Pike counties.  

 That brings to 11 the number of counties where white-nose syndrome has been confirmed since it was first found in Illinois two years ago.  

Named for the white fungus that appears on the animals' noses, the disease was first detected in New York in 2006. It's extremely lethal, killing 90 percent or more of hibernating bats in some caves.  

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Even though John Cullerton went along with the pension law that on Friday was found by the state's high court to be unconstitutional, the Illinois Senate President had always favored another approach. Now he's saying (well, not exactly in these exact words ... ) "I told you so." In this episode of The Players -- a podcast about who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to -- Amanda Vinicky spoke with the Senate's top Democrat about his plans to try again.

For the second time in as many weeks, the Illinois House today held a special hearing known as a committee on the whole, centered on part of Gov. Bruce Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda" -- this time, centered on what business interests call "tort reform." Critics say it's tort deform.

Sangamon Auditorium

As the founder of The Byrds, Roger McGuinn is firmly established as an indisputable industry icon.

From his signature twelve-string Rickenbacker sound to his instantly recognizable vocals on hits like “Turn, Turn, Turn,” “Eight Miles High” and “Mr. Tambourine Man," McGuinn didn’t just make music; he made history.

That feeling continues today as Roger offers concerts that are as mesmerizing and magical as ever. He delivers the gift of an evening with a master that is as intimate as it is spellbinding.

Tim Landis headshot
SJ-R.com

Bill Wheelhouse and Tim Landis talk about a public forum this week on plans to improve the neighborhood near Lincoln's home.

www.imrf.org/volunteering

The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund – a local government pension fund, is pushing an effort this year to get more of their members to help out others. We spoke with the head of IMRF, Louis Kosiba, about it:

For more info, click here.

ISM

Paul Mickey Science Series: The End of an Era? Early Holocene Caribou Hunting Strategies in the Upper Great Lakes

  • Location: ISM Research & Collections Center, Springfield
  • Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Presented by Dr. John M. O’Shea, Curator of Great Lakes Archaeology, Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, University of Michigan

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

Illinois voters passed a constitutional amendment last year to ensure crime victims' rights. Now lawmakers are working to make the criminal code match up.

Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins fights for victims' rights because her sister, brother-in-law and their child were murdered. She was denied the right to provide a victim impact statement. Even though Illinois law allowed impact statements at the time, it didn't allow victims any recourse if they were denied.

agr.ga.gov

Mitsubishi is recalling more than 130,000 cars because of two separate issues that could lead to reduced visibility for drivers and raise the risk of a crash.
 
 Nearly 77,000 cars are being recalled because the windshield defroster might fail as a result of a faulty blower motor. The cars affected include Lancer model years 2009 to 2011, Lancer Sportback model years 2010 to 2011, Lancer Evolution model years 2010 to 2011 and Outlander Sport model year 2011.
 

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

The Illinois Cancer Action Network is calling attention to breast and cervical cancer screenings, especially as some of those programs face cuts.

The governor's proposed budget would reduce funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings by 71 percent. Democratic Rep. Mike Smiddy of Hillsdale is opposed. He says his wife is a cancer survivor, and without early screening his children might not have a mother.

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