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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.

This week, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno declared, "We need change!"  However, there is still no agreement among state lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner on what form that change should take as Illinois continues to go without a spending plan.  Illinois Issues' Jamey Dunn and The State Journal-Register's Bernie Schoenburg join the panel.

Amanda Vinicky / NPR | Illinois Public Radio

Republicans are making an offer to get money to social services agencies that have gone three-quarters of the year without any state funding.

Illinois' political stalemate has caused crises all over the state, says Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

The Illinois legislature is regional mélange, comprised of legislators from the nation's third largest city, as well as lawmakers who represent rural areas that are geographically closer to Mississippi than they are to Chicago. That diversity was on display Thursday when the House took up legislation to regulate fishing.

Illinois senators Thursday passed legislation out of committee to ban trapping bobcats and selling their pelts. The state recently allowed for the hunting of bobcats.

The Illinois House passed a measure Thursday that decriminalizes selling loose cigarettes to adults aged 18 and older. The legislation's sponsor said the change was inspired by the arrest and subsequent death of Eric Garner in New York.

Audio Pending...

From Mozart to Mahler, a marvelous merging of symphony and song with The Marriage of Figaro Overture, arias from Don Giovanni and La Clemenza di Tito, and Mahler's Symphony No. 4.  UIS ethnomusicologist Yona Stamatis speaks with Maestro Alastair Willis and Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano soloist Julie Boulianne about the upcoming Magnificent Masters concert.  

A section of Illinois Route 8 in East Peoria may be dedicated to a fallen Illinois soldier. State representatives Thursday moved to designate a roadway as the "Staff Sergeant Paul Smith Memorial Highway."

Kari Bedford / jirwinmusic.com

It's a family affair this week as Tom Irwin and son John Irwin join us in the studio. They tell us about their current musical projects and share a tune, recorded live, as the song of the week! Tune in:

Events discussed this week include:

christieblizard.com

Christie Blizard is an artist and professor from San Antonio, Texas. She's in Springfield setting up an installation in the alternative art space on the Springfield Art Association's campus, known as the Demo Project. Blizard spent 2015 making several appearances in the crowds holding signs for the Today Show & Good Morning America. (You can find some of those here.) A reception for her show called 'The Sex of Life' is planned for Friday night.

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

I recently shared a memorable elevator ride with a mom, dad and their two-year old son, Joey.  We were staying in a hotel connected to a children’s hospital, and the IV pole the dad was patiently pushing suggested his little guy was undergoing treatment.

This tiny fellow was a clone of his dad, who grinned from ear to ear when I commented on the resemblance.  But most of the conversation was from the toddler himself in the repetition of this simple phrase:  “Go, team, go!”

A House committee Wednesday gave the nod to a measure that could lighten the sentence of a mentally ill criminal.

A judge can take a lot 16 different factors into consideration when meting out a sentence.

The legislation proposed by Chicago Democratic Rep. Pamela Reeves-Harris adds another one.

"The court may consider, in mitigation, information that at the time of the offense the defendant was suffering from a serious mental illness," she said.

http://www.adamsguns.com

 Access to guns could be restricted from someone going through a personal crisis. It comes after a series of mass shootings where advocates say warning signs were missed. State representatives advanced the legislation Wednesday.

It's not a lifetime ban. Rather, Rep. Kathleen Willis, a Democrat from Addison, stresses she wants to temporarily keep guns away from someone suffering a mental breakdown, contemplating suicide, or otherwise going through a rough patch.

A concerned close friend or relative could ask a circuit court to prevent them from buying, or possessing a gun.

mergerecords.com/ivy-tripp

Katie Crutchfield, a.k.a Waxahatchee, has - much to her own surprise, become an indie-rock darling with national recognition. Her newest album, Ivy Tripp, has been critically acclaimed (ie: here &  here), as have her previous two records. The name of the project comes from a creek in Alabama – which is Crutchfield’s home state. 

Stateville Correctional Center
Google Maps

Last December, the state of Illinois tentatively agreed to settle a class action lawsuit over the treatment of prisoners with mental illness. But changes to mental health at the Department of Corrections have been slow in coming, in part because Illinois has gone more than 9 months without a budget.

Muhammad Mahdi Karim

As summer comes to the Midwest, it brings mosquitoes with it. This year, it also brings fears of the Zika virus, which has been linked to serious birth defects in South America. 

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois/Illinois Issues

Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed increased funding for elementary and secondary schools.  But Democrats don't want to add money to a formula they say is fundamentally inequitable. Instead, they're proposing a new way to calculate how much state aid flows to each school district.

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