News

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

  Officials with The Autism Program said they felt shock April 3, when they were told their state funding was canceled — effective immediately. The Good Friday notice also came to the chagrin of some legislators who said they thought autism programs would be spared from budget cuts.

“I regularly come into contact with 18 senators and representatives across the state,” said TAP lobbyist Jim Runyon. “They had been assured that the autism program was going to be held harmless through the remainder of (fiscal) ’15.”

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

This week's discussion includes the fallout over Governor Bruce Rauner's cuts to social services and House Speaker Michael Madigan's new budget oversight panel.  Paris Schutz, political reporter for WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" joins us for the program.

Verizon is giving its customers have more control over the channels they pay for as the cacophony of cord cutting reshapes cable TV.

Verizon's FiOS Custom TV, available Sunday, gives customers the option to buy a $55 base package with more than 35 channels plus two additional themed channel packs.

There's currently seven channel packs to choose from, including genres such as sports, children and lifestyle. Customers can add more channel packs _ which include about 10-17 channels on average _ for $10 each. They may also swap out channel packs after 30 days.

Stephenson County Animal Control officials say a northern Illinois woman charged with animal cruelty has turned 84 dogs over to officials.  

 Animal Control Warden Kristen Laue said 45-year-old Tina McKinnon of Freeport turned the dogs over Wednesday.  
 

According to the Journal Standard in Freeport,  McKinnon was charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals after the animals were found in her home March 16.  
 

Illinois officials gathered in Springfield Thursday for the annual Holocaust memorial ceremony. As happens every year, a survivor shared her story.

Magda Brown grew up in Hungary. On her 17th birthday in 1944, she was sent to the the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Upon arrival, her mother was sent somewhere else, so after a few days she asked the more experienced prisoners when she might see her relatives again. Their hands went up, pointing to the chimneys over the crematorium.

United States Department of Agriculture

Lawmakers took a break from some of the more serious bills in the Illinois House to discuss a proposal that would designate an official state pie.

House Bill 208, which would make pumpkin pie the official state pie, passed on Thursday, but not without some lighthearted debate.

As legislators debated giving pumpkin pie the special designation, the dessert talk got so loud Rep. Al Riley had to ask them to quiet down.

The quiet didn't last long. Legislators like Republican Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights tossed in spoonfuls of puns.

http://theboxmasters.com/

Tune in to this week's version of The Scene:

Events discussed this week include:

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

When we think about “prenatal development,” we mostly refer to the amazing process whereby a fertilized egg becomes a newborn.  That journey is nothing short of miraculous when you consider the rapid progression of what resembles a tadpole turning into a fully functional person with a heart that beats, lungs that breathe, arms and legs that move, and a brain that processes an astounding amount of information.  

Twenty-seven people are out of a job at Illinois' Tobacco Quitline, which means there's no one left to answer the phone.

For the past 15 years, Illinois smokers could dial 1-866-QUIT-YES, and a tobacco treatment counselor or nurse would answer. Try calling now, and there's a message saying: "Your call is important to us. Unfortunately, Quitline funding has been suspended due to budget cuts and we will be closed until further notice."

It was an abrupt end. Supporters say they had little financial wiggle room.

Organization and business leaders say they were stunned by a Good Friday notice indicating state funding for some programs would be immediately terminated. Democrats say they were “blindsided” too.

WUIS

The University of Illinois Springfield will celebrate Earth Week (April 20-24, 2015) with a variety of events designed to educate students, faculty, staff, and the community about the environment.

All of the events listed below are free and open to the public.

Monday, April 20 

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

If you've made your way to the Springfield Art Association over in the Enos Park neighborhood, you certainly noticed the large brick pale-pink home with green shutters. It's well over 150 years old and it's known as Edwards Place. It has just undergone a major restoration. I went for a visit as the process was wrapping up:

ILGA.gov

It can take a decade or more for the FDA to approve a new medicine, but a measure in the Illinois House is meant to help people who can't wait that long.

Rep. Greg Harris, a Democrat from Chicago, says for people who have been told they have just a short time to live, it could be a ray of hope. "It's the last, best hope for some of our constituents," he said. "I'm very proud to carry it. I'm proud to give this hope to people who have no place else to turn."

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

A day of remembrance was held at the state capital Wednesday for President Abraham Lincoln, on the 150th anniversary of his death.

The ceremony included a 21-gun salute, music from a military band and a prayer from Chaplain Maurice Buford of the U.S. Navy.

"We honor him because his flame of leadership still kindles, his seat at the eternal table of prominence is permanent and because he continues to teach this great nation to always have the faith that might makes right,” Buford said.

Thousands of state employees are a step closer to receiving money they've been waiting on since 2011.

The Illinois House approved spending the approximately $63 million it'll take to pay workers raises they were guaranteed in their contracts, but which the state refused to hand over.

State Sen. Matt Murphy
WUIS/Illinois Issues

This is Past Due, a look at big picture budget issues facing Illinois. Lawmakers have returned from their spring break, and one topic is on everyone’s mind: the budget.

Democrats want more revenue, which would likely mean some version of a tax increase. Some Republicans say they would consider it, but they want business friendly reforms passed first. This week, you will hear Jamey Dunn chat with two senators who serve on budgeting committees, one a Democrat and one a Republican.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

A recent project combines the work of Springfield's most well-loved poet, the late Vachel Lindsay, with one of Springfield's favorite contemporary visual artists. A book titled, A Net to Snare the Moonlight collects over 15 children's poems by Lindsay and pairs them with artistic interpretations.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been traveling the state to promote his so-called "Turnaround Agenda." But don't expect the General Assembly to act on it right away.

It calls for sweeping changes to unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, limits on where lawsuits can be filed and the creation of right-to-work zones. Plus, a local freeze on property taxes, and a repeal of the state's Prevailing Wage Law.

A grocery trade site Brickmeetsclick  has an interesting preview of Aldi's new venture.

Take a read.

beech-nut.com

Beech-Nut Nutrition is recalling approximately  baby food products that may be contaminated with small pieces of glass,

The following product is subject to recall

  • 4-oz. glass jars containing “Stage 2 Beech-Nut CLASSICS sweet potato & chicken”

The product subject to recall bears the establishment number “P-68A” inside the USDA mark of inspection. The affected product expires in “DEC 2016” and includes product numbers “12395750815” through “12395750821”. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.                        

Lincoln Tomb Criticized And Faces Setbacks

Apr 15, 2015

 The caretakers of Abraham Lincoln's tomb are on the defensive over an unflattering critique in National Geographic magazine and looming state budget cuts that could threaten management and maintenance of the Civil War president's final resting place.  

A ceremony in Springfield Wednesday to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 16th president's death comes at a time when Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed eliminating the state's Historic Preservation Agency, which manages sites including the tomb. He would fold it into another department.  

LinkedIn

Social service agencies are reeling from sudden budget cuts. More could be on the way.

Some Democrats say they were taken off guard when, two weeks after legislators and Gov. Bruce Rauner passed a law to handle the budget through June, Rauner's administration said certain programs would be cut-off: Grants for a quit-smoking hotline, support for autistic kids, and funding for a teen after-school program -- all eliminated. In cases, workers have been laid off, and services discontinued.

African American legislators say the impoverished parts of the state will be most affected by budget cuts.

Dangerous and Draconian. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus uses those words to explain $26 million Governor Bruce Rauner recently suspended in state grants.  He's proposed more cuts for next year.
 

Senator Kim Lightford says Rauner's cuts will be devastating in four main areas public safety, education, health and the economy. 

Rep. Elaine Nekritz and Sen. Daniel Biss
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s ideas about how to change government-employee pensions are getting extra scrutiny in Springfield.

Rauner wants employees to be moved into less generous plans for future pension benefits.

So far, it’s just something he’s just talked about. Democrats who’ve long focused on pension issues say that needs to change.

Sen. Daniel Biss, of Evanston, is calling for an actuarial analysis. He also says the idea that legislation would be passed and make it through the inevitable court challenge anytime soon is a “fantasy."

When President Obama announced in late 2014 that he would work toward ending the embargo on trade with Cuba, it wasn’t just tourists perking up their ears. Midwest farmers and ranchers see communist Cuba as an untapped market for goods from the American Heartland.

One of those farmers is Paul Combs, a rice farmer from southeast Missouri. Cuba can be an important market for farmers like Combs, who already depend on exporting their products.

On this week's WUIS-SJR Business Report Tim Landis and Bill Wheelhouse chat about an impending decision regarding a hog farm in Menard County and an odd court appearance for a former area businessman:

 Some Lawmakers say that they believed certain programs had been protected under a budget deal recently struck with the governor to fund state services through the rest of the fiscal year. But Gov. Bruce Rauner froze several human services grants earlier this month — including support for people with autism.

Now a Senate budget committee is calling on members of the administration to explain the cuts. Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowski, who chairs the committee, says the money should be restored.

Illinois General Assembly

 

Current state law prohibits people with felony records from working in a school, or volunteering, or even driving a truck that makes deliveries to a school. But a measure pending before the Illinois House of Representatives could change that.

State Representative Kelly Cassidy — a Chicago Democrat — sponsors the legislation.

"What we operate under now is based on the assumption that someone with a criminal history is always a criminal, and never eligible to return to productive society,” she says.

potter
Jaegar Moore / flickr.com/97408355@N06

Illinois has until recently paid for the cost of burial of its indigent dead. That changed on Good Friday, when the administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner terminated funding for the program.

The $9 million loss could push the cost of impoverished decedents’ final arrangements onto their families, funeral homes or even counties. Funeral directors say the cut could “cause many problems” for the state, which is struggling to fund operations through the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

flickr/JeffCovey

Heavy rains in the spring often lead to complaints in Springfield over water in basements.  This mostly happens in older areas of the community.

"Most of the system was never designed to be able to transport or convey 50 year storms.  it was more designed on a 5 or 10 year storm. That being said, there are places in the city that don't perform on a 5 or 10 year system either," said Sewer Engineer John Higginbotham with Springfield Public Works.

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