News

Dusty Rhodes

The House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education held a lengthy hearing this week on a bill that would drastically change the way Illinois distributes state education funds. Senate Bill 16, sponsored by Senator Andy Manar of Macoupin County, would send more money to schools where property values are low, while decreasing the amount sent to schools in wealthier Chicago suburbs. 

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner visited the Executive Mansion during his trip to Springfield Thursday.

Illinois Senate

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says lawmakers are heeding Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner's  advice and won't extend the state's temporary income tax increase.
 
Rauner advised lawmakers not to take up any substantive issues before he's
sworn in.
 
Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, says the Republican Rauner has ``a little honeymoon period'' during his first weeks in office and the Legislature is ``giving him his first victory.''
 

Amanda Vinicky

An Illinois judge has ruled that a law intended to fix the nation's worst-funded state employee pensions violates the state Constitution. Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Belz ruled Friday in favor of state employees and retirees who sued to block the state's landmark pension overhaul.

At issue was whether lawmakers defied the Illinois Constitution by passing a law that reduces state workers', public school teachers' and university employees' retirement benefits.

Courtesy of SIU School of Medicine

This week is "Get Smart about Antibiotics Week." It's meant to address the fact that a large amount of antibiotics are used inappropriately, which can lead to what are known as "super bugs".

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

The most significant change in family functioning I have seen in my nearly thirty years of working with families is the changing role of dads.  By some estimates, over the last twenty years, the amount of time fathers spend with their children has doubled.  And most of that increase is spent in real caregiving tasks, like feeding, bathing, and the other daily tasks of raising children—even when they require an adjusted work schedule. In some families, dads are staying at home to raise kids.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner visited Springfield on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. He met with legislative leaders and other elected officials, and held his first Statehouse news conference. Listen to the full audio:

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' incoming governor has asked the outgoing one to put state hiring on hold for the remainder of his term.

Even as he was being impeached, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich kept making key appointments. A new Dept. of Natural Resources chief; Barack Obama's open U.S. Senate seat.

Gov. Pat Quinn is by no means under that sort of dark cloud.

And Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner says he has no reason to believe Quinn's doing anything inappropriate.

Timothy Killeen
Bill Wheelhouse / WUIS / Illinois Issues

Timothy Killeen, who has been selected as the next president of the University of Illinois travelled to the university's three campuses. Killeen who will be the 20th U of I President has been the vice chancellor for research at the State University of New York.   A researcher in geophysics and space sciences, he will start his new job in July.  He spoke about his goals and what he sees for the University's Springfield campus.

Christy Bennett is a Springfield native who now lives in Chicago where she heads the band Fumée Gypsy Project. Bennett sings and plays accordian. The music they play is called “gypsy-jazz”, made popular by artists like Django Reinhardt. Bennett stopped by the Suggs Studio at WUIS with band mates Casey Nielsen (guitar) and Nate Baker (mandolin).

Amanda Vinicky

The sponsor of a minimum wage hike says she'll push to get it passed during the legislature's veto session, which began today, Tues. Nov. 19.

Sen. Kim Lightford, a Democrat from Maywood, pointed to the results of a non-binding referendum. Sixty-seven percent of Illinois voters said “yes," Illinois should raise its minimum wage to $10 an hour by Jan. 1, 2015. The current rate is $8.25.

Results showed support for an increase in much of the state, including traditionally Republican areas, like the Chicago suburbs and downstate.

WUIS

Democratic state Senator Mike Frerichs appears to have won the race to be the next state treasurer.

If the current totals hold, this will go down in history as one of Illinois' narrowest general election victories.

According to the independent Illinois Election Data website, Frerichs won by fewer than 10,000 votes — a fraction of a percent of the 3.5 million votes cast.

No matter, a win is a win, and Republican state Rep. Tom Cross conceded the race.

Luca Casarteli/Wiki Commons

November 20th is known as "Transgender Day of Remembrance." It's an acknowledgement of those who were the victims of violence caused by their gender identification and presentation. Unlike the rest of the words in the acronym "LGBT" - transgender is not a sexuality. It is an umbrella term used for those who feel the sex they were born as is not an accurate depiction of the gender they feel themselves to be. 

UIS.edu

The University of Illinois system has hired State University of New York Vice Chancellor for Research Timothy L. Killeen as its next president.  

The university announced Wednesday that the 62-year-old Killeen will become president when current President Robert Easter retires in June.  

The 67-year-old Easter became president in 2012 during a period of turmoil.  
 Both of his predecessors, Michael Hogan and B. Joseph White, resigned under pressure. Easter is credited by many with overseeing a relatively calm period.  

Jamey Dunn headshot
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Listen to Dunn's interview about her column with Rachel Otwell: 

UIS.edu

The next president of the University of Illinois will be announced Wednesday.   The announcement will be made on all three campuses.  

Board chair Christopher Kennedy and other university officials will introduce the schools' choice to head the U of I.  A news release did not mention the choice.

President Robert Easter will retire next summer.  He has served in that role for 3 years after being on the faculty and serving as an administrator at the Urbana Champaign campus.   

Tim Landis headshot
SJ-R.com

On this week's WUIS/State Journal-Register Business Report, Tim Landis tells us about the Grain Belt Express transmission line project across central Illinois, efforts to save another historic building in Springfield and expansion of a senior living complex. 

Senator Mark Kirk facebook

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is requesting a federal inquiry into what he's calling ``voting irregularities'' and ``mishandling of ballots'' during this month's election.
 
In a letter dated Monday and obtained by The Associated Press, the Illinois
Republican asks U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon to ``secure'' questioned ballots
and ensure proper handling.
 
Kirk references allegations raised last week by a lawyer for GOP candidate for
treasurer Tom Cross. Among them is that elections officials couldn't account for
all mail-in and provisional ballots.
 

fumeegypsyproject.com

Come see Fumée perform and be interviewed by Rachel Otwell at noon on Wednesday, November 19th. That will be at WUIS, on the campus of University of Illinois Springfield (in the WUIS building.)

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Kari Bedford is a well-known photographer in the Springfield area. Her usual focus is on portraits and events like high school graduation and weddings, but she's decided to take her skills and apply them to an additional cause. She started the project "Girls In Focus" to diversify the stories that are told by and about young women through photography. How exactly? Well, Bedford joined us for this interview to explain her project and her goals: 

flickr/ThomasAnderson

The U.S. Supreme court has agreed to take up a case that could put the Affordable Care Act in jeopardy. But health care advocates in the state are still urging residents to check out their options as the second enrollment period for Obamacare is underway.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether federal subsidies can be given to residents in states, like Illinois, that did not create their own online marketplaces. In the meantime, subsidies to help cover the cost of insurance will still be available.

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

A look ahead at the upcoming Veto Session, the aftermath of the results in the Governor's race, and the race for Treasurer is still too close to call.

The grand jury decision is expected any day now in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. In anticipation of that announcement, Springfield school officials have issued instructions on how to handle students' reactions.

Alan Light/Flickr

CHICAGO (AP) -  Jane Byrne, Chicago's first and only female mayor, has died at the age of 80. Byrne's daughter, Kathy, says her mother died Thursday at a hospice in Chicago. With Byrne's election in 1979, she became part of Chicago history. And she was part of the city's lore because of a big reason why she was elected: Voters blamed the sitting mayor, Michael Bilandic, for what they saw as the city's slow reaction to a blizzard.   

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

The group "Africans in Central Illinois" and  Grace United Methodist Church  are hosting an event on Saturday night at 5 at Southeast High School. It will raise funds for Doctors Without Borders  in the fight against Ebola and include dance, a fashion show, music, and a silent auction. We spoke with Munah Jallah and Braimah Kanu about it:

CLICK HERE for a piece about the event in the Illinois Times.

A bipartisan effort to name a veterans facility in Galesburg, Illinois, after the late Lane Evans is underway.  
 U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos introduced legislation Thursday in Congress to name the Galesburg Veterans Affairs clinic after Evans.  

The former congressman from Illinois died last week at age 63 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Evans had fought for veterans' rights during his 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

flickr/Matty Ring

A newly released survey shows a majority of Illinois residents are satisfied with the performance of their local police department.  But the numbers also show differences of opinion along racial lines. 

The statewide survey shows overall, 7 of 10 people in Illinois give police good marks.  But African Americans are more split, with only about half giving a commendable rating.

flickr/United Soybean Board

Agricultural runoff is a problem in Illinois and many other farm states.  Nitrogen, phosphorous and chemicals help with yields, but too much winds up in the water supply.   That creates problems like algae growth that robs the water of oxygen, killing off aquatic life. 

Jean Payne represents fertilizer and chemical dealers in the state.  She says a training program will launch this winter in an effort to get farmers better educated on how to apply nutrients to their crops, including the best time for application and proper amounts. 

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

When an older child leaves home for college or career, second born children often blossom in one way or another.  Parents would do well to be prepared.

Two families I know are experiencing this phenomenon right now.  In one family, an older sister left for college in August.  She’d been a challenging teen, but her younger sister was more compliant. 

Graphic courtesy of Kenneth Olson, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Illinois became a state in 1818, but figuring out its shape was not a simple process. While most people hear Illinois and think Chicago - it could have been without the city, if not for advocacy and politics. An article in the current edition of Illinois Issues magazine (and below) explores the issue. Rachel Otwell sat down to talk with the author, Eliot Clay, about it:

 

'How Illinois might have looked' by Eliot Clay

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