News

Politicians and the party faithful flocked to the Illinois State Fair this week, with both Democrats and Republicans defining the continuing budget impasse as an epic struggle.  However, the struggle remains static, with no work toward an agreement.  Becky Schlikerman of the Chicago Sun Times joins the panel.

Democrat Day 2015
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Illinois Democrats say they're in an "epic" struggle with the state's new Republican governor. The party met in Springfield Thursday for its annual fundraising breakfast and State Fair rally.

The afternoon rally began with a tongue-in-cheek thank-you to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

"Why am I here to thank Bruce Rauner?" asked state Rep. Lou Lang, from Skokie. "Look around you — the Democratic Party has never been as energized or as organized as it is right now."

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois Democrats say their party is strong and more energized than ever, thanks to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

The day after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner accused them of holding up progress, hundreds of Democrats packed into a ballroom rose to their feet when Senate President John Cullerton said "We are willing to work with Gov. Rauner, but we don't work for Gov. Rauner, okay?"

Democrats were in Springfield for their annual state fair gathering.

Gov. Rauner Wants Changes In Higher Education

Aug 20, 2015

Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget proposal calls for cutting state higher education funding by nearly a third. But at the Illinois State Fair this week, Rauner turned back to his long-term goal of raising state funding for state universities.

In an interview on WILL’s Closing Market Report, the Republican governor repeated the argument he made in his gubernatorial campaign last year --- that an increase in funding should come with a change in how that funding is spent.

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com / WUIS / Illinois Issues

For today’s parents, I see the greatest new challenge as the pervasive nature of smart phones.

All of us are susceptible.  We react to the bells and whistles like Pavlov’s dogs, reaching for our phones automatically, almost without regard for what is going on around us.  We treat them as the most exacting tyrants, demanding our instantaneous attention.

Rachel Otwell // WUIS

When you think of a barbershop chorus, you probably picture men performing.  But plenty of women also join in the fun. The Sweet Adelines International Organization has been around for 70 years now.  One of the choirs, based in Springfield, has been hitting all the right notes:


courtesy of Kristin Wheeler

Love isn't always easy. Just about any couple that's been married for at least ten years will be quick to tell you that. It takes compromise and understanding, and sometimes - courage. The story of Jane Eyre is about that - but also a young orphan who goes on to be an independent and righteous woman, even though a patriarchal society makes that difficult.

Illinois Issues: Congressional Exploits

Aug 20, 2015
Aaron Schock
Aaron Schock / Instagram

Antics like sexual misconduct, theft and ethical indiscretions have landed Illinois' representatives in trouble for decades.

Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Bruce Rauner's November election victory landed his party a summer prize Illinois Republicans haven't had in dozen years --- the pride of having Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair. But Rauner's day of political revelry Wednesday ended with a stinging defeat.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday rebuked Governor Bruce Rauner in his labor negotiations with the state's biggest government-employee union.

After months of negotiations have failed to reach an agreement, unions want legislation that would let an arbitrator resolve intractable disputes.

Rauner vetoed it, saying it would tie his hands. He also promised not to lock workers out.

But Sen. Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park, says the real fear is that Rauner will demand workers accept "completely unreasonable" terms.

Randy Dunn
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Among the casualties of the Illinois budget impasse are grants that help low-income students pay for college. On Wednesday, Democrats in the state Senate voted to address that.

Thousands of students take advantage of the so-called MAP grants to attend everything from community colleges to the U. of I.

Randy Dunn, the president of Southern Illinois University, says two-thirds of students at the Carbondale campus get help from the program.

"The average award for our students is significant," Dunn told a Senate committee. "This is not something that's chicken feed."

Amanda Vinicky

A budget impasse lingers, but hasn't interrupted politicians' big rallies at the Illinois State Fair. Democrats will have their chance tomorrow but today was Republicans' chance.

Republicans are still relishing capturing the governor's office for the first time in a dozen years.

"Are you guys ready? I don't see you guys standing! We need to be lit for this," Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti said, as she introduced Gov. Bruce Rauner, prompting the crowd to rise to their feet.

State of the Union 2015
Bill Ingalls / NASA (flickr.com/nasahqphotos)

A pair of economists have put one of the central claims of Obamacare opponents to the test: Is Obamacare a job-killer? We hear the answer in the latest episode of the State of the State podcast.

Rachel Otwell // WUIS

This week we take some time to get to know two local figures in the hip-hop scene. Guests hosts are Aaron "Uncanny" Phillips, and Torch (of Torch Tuesday fame.)  Listen up!

Univ. of Illinois

It’s been nearly a week since Phyllis Wise abruptly stepped down as chancellor of the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus. She cited "external issues" that have “distracted us from the important tasks at hand.”

The day after Wise resigned, the U of I released hundreds of emails in response to Freedom of Information requests. Many of the emails were sent to and from Wise's personal email accounts. They revealed that she also encouraged others to use their private emails, in an effort to skirt FOIA law.

Should the Illinois State Fair raise more private money?

 At least a dozen Republicans are chasing the party's presidential nomination. But which of them will get a boost from Illinois' new, and privately wealthy, Republican governor?

Gill campaign

A former Democratic nominee in central Illinois's 13th Congressional District has announced an independent bid for the seat.  

Bloomington doctor David Gill said Tuesday that his ``independent campaign will be highly competitive, in spite of the obstacles built into the system by the two major parties.''  

Gill last ran for the seat in 2012 and lost by 1,002 votes to Republican Rodney Davis, now in his second term.

The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reports (http://bit.ly/1hmbyuE ) no Democrat has announced plans to challenge Davis.  

House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, spoke about Medicaid on public television’s Illinois Lawmakers: “Boiling it down in more simple terms … who are the people that are eligible? How much of it will they get? How often will they get it?
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois says he isn't wading into the primary battle for U.S. Senate -- at least not yet.

Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk's up for re-election next year, and Democrats are trying to wrestle back his seat. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, of Hoffman Estates and head of the Chicago Urban League Andrea Zopp have declared they're running for the nomination.

Rachel Otwell // WUIS

The cover story from the Illinois Times that came out last Thursday is titled, "The high cost of budget cuts: When Illinois slashes social services, the vulnerable suffer." The author, Patrick Yeagle, joined me to talk about which social service agencies could disappear as a result of the state's budget impasse and proposed cuts. 

University of Illinois

Do you think downtown Springfield parking is a challenge? Study says about 50% of spaces are used.

That is among topics Bill and Tim discuss on this weeks biz report:

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Governor Bruce Rauner officially opened the Illinois State Fair Friday morning. But there is still no state budget in place, and Rauner would not say how Illinois is paying for the fair.

There were all the trappings of the usual fair grand opening: politicians, a Lincoln impersonator, a ribbon cutting.

But an impasse between Rauner, a Republican, and Democratic majorities in the legislature means Illinois has no legal authority to pay for the fair. Rauner, however, refused to answer questions about that — or anything else.

Rocky Wirtz and the Stanley Cup at the Illinois State Fair
Brian Mackey / WUIS

The owner of the Chicago Blackhawks was in Springfield Friday for the ribbon cutting that opens the Illinois State Fair. But he's refusing to talk about the investigation into one of the team’s star players.

Hawks owner Rocky Wirtz was the at fairgrounds’ main gate to present the Stanley Cup.

He spoke briefly at the podium, thanking officials for inviting him, but later would not say much about the ongoing rape investigation into star player Patrick Kane.

Despite having no budget or actual spending authority in place, most state spending is going ahead anyway.  John O'Connor of the Associated Press joins the panel this week.

  

A researcher on national education issues came to central Illinois this week to give teachers a back-to-school pep talk and to give them ideas on how to improve kids' learning.

John Draper, a former middle school teacher and principal, works for the National School Public Relations Association. It's his job to tout neighborhood schools, and he did plenty of that in his presentation to Macon County teachers this week. 

But Draper also pitched a few ideas that would shake up traditional school calendars. 

Claudia Quigg headshot
mattpenning.com / WUIS / Illinois Issues

I was astonished recently when a lovely, successful middle-aged man I know shared with me that during the years he was growing up he suffered some pretty harsh child abuse.  I was moved by his story especially because I knew him during those years when this abuse was occurring regularly.  

I might have been able to help.  But I didn’t suspect a thing.

Moving through my own guilt about this, I looked into signs I might have missed.  Sure enough, he exhibited some characteristics, but I never connected the dots.  

Illinois Senate Democrats

Updated estimates show that Illinois is on the trajectory to spend $2 billion more than the spending plan Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed because it's out of balance, even though it has gone 44 days without a budget.

Illinois has been without a budget since the start of July. And yet money's steadily flowing from state coffers, thanks to court orders, decrees, and other arrangements.

"We can't even close down the state right," said Republican Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights.

courtesy of Timothy Russell

If you are a longtime resident of Springfield who enjoyed the local bar and music scene in the late 70s and 80s - chances are you have heard the band Starry Eye. Timothy Russell had two members of his family in the band - and used to work for them on the production side as a kid. After his uncle's shocking death in 2013, he decided it was time to capture the band's history.

Wikipedia

Sunday marked the anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Recently, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an extensive story marking the occasion. To learn about that story and get an update on what’s happening in Ferguson, I talked with the story’s author, Kevin McDermott.

NASA

Asbestos in a demolition project on Springfield's north end, Krispy Kreme coming to town and "Saving A Seal"

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