Associated Press

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Caterpillar says it plans to close five plants and trim about 670 jobs in
Illinois and several other states, in the latest phase of a larger cost-cutting
campaign announced last year.

ilga.gov

House Speaker Michael Madigan says he's open to considering a new pension overhaul and is ``anxious'' to see legislation. 

WIU students demonstrating.
Rich Egger / Tri States Public Radio

The Western Illinois University Board of Trustees voted 5-to1 during a special meeting Monday to authorize staff reductions for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016.  Staff cuts are just one part of Western’s plan for cutting spending by roughly $10 million due to declines in enrollment and state financial support.

WBEZ

Gov. Bruce Rauner says that if Illinois takes over Chicago Public Schools, he'll stand up to the teachers' union on contract negotiations. 

flickr/RubenHolthuljsen

Illinois' state climatologist says December weather that brought flooding to parts of the state also made it the second-wettest December in recorded state history. 

WILL

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he spent his nearly two-week holiday vacation in Spain and Morocco with his family.

Authorities were searching floodwaters for two 18-year-olds from the central Illinois community of Taylorville.  

Police say the two were last seen Monday and divers concentrated their search Wednesday near flooded areas of Sangchris Lake and Pawnee, where one of the teen's cellphone was tracked. 

WUIS

The Illinois attorney general has ruled that Gov. Bruce Rauner's office has withheld too much information on his daily appointment calendars from taxpayers. 

Major rivers in flood-prone areas of Missouri and Illinois are creeping toward milestone or near-record crests.

flickr/meeshpants

Lawyers representing 11,000 mentally ill Illinois prisoners have reached a settlement with the state in a 2007 class-action lawsuit alleging that substandard treatment constituted ``cruel and unusual punishment.'' 

wuis.org

The city of Springfield is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on a downtown panhandling ban after it was declared unconstitutional by a federal appeals court. 

WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner closed the public portion of Tuesday's budget summit with a forceful plea to take on what he says are the root causes of Illinois' financial woes. 

illinois.gov

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration will find a new director for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum instead of hiring an outside search firm. 

Heartland Community College

Heartland Community College in Normal is bracing for a potential faculty strike but the school's president intends to hold classes whether it happens or not.  

Imprisoned ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of his corruption convictions that included his bid to sell an appointment to President Barack Obama's old Senate seat.

IHPA

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency board of directors has dismissed the director and appointed its general counsel to hold the post on an interim basis. 

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has released parts of his 2014 state and federal tax returns that show he and his wife, Diana, made $58.3 million last year.

ALPLM

The director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has resigned following years of disagreements with the head of the state agency that oversees the museum.

Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan is calling for legislation that would keep convicts from being labeled as felons for the remainder of their lives.

Sean Crawford/WUIS

An effort is underway to repair one of the few railroad depots remaining in Sangamon County. 

The State Journal-Register reports the newly formed Chatham Railroad Museum Association is raising money to fix the roof and make other improvements to the Chatham Railroad Depot. 

The Village of Chatham owns the structure, which was built in 1902.  But it doesn't have enough money to pay for the estimated $10,00o in needed repairs.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is set to close state museums and a sport-shooting complex to the public because of the budget crisis, even though most staff will still report to work. 

NicolasHenderson/flickr

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is pledging that police will be out in full force near Busch Stadium as the Cardinals enter the postseason, after a fan was shot and possibly paralyzed following a game.  

The shooting has generated concern about safety in what has been a violent year in St. Louis.  

A former Illinois state representative sentenced to five months in prison for pocketing a $7,000 bribe is asking for a delay in his surrender to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.  

Derrick Smith, a 51-year-old Chicago Democrat, was sentenced in April after jurors convicted him last year of bribery and attempted extortion for accepting a bribe for supporting a day care center's application for a $50,000 state grant. The facility was fictitious and part of an FBI sting.  

Credit Flickr/aka_kath

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has accepted the resignation of the state's Agriculture Department director and the director of the state fair.  

The resignations of Phil Nelson and Patrick Buchen were announced late Thursday. The reasons for their resignations were not given. 

Caterpillar

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis says he expects the city and region to absorb a sizable hit as manufacturer Caterpillar plans to reduce its workforce by as many as 10,000 people.  

Ardis told The Associated Press Thursday that the company has not shared specifics about the local impact of what could amount to an 8 percent reduction to its global workforce of 126,800 by 2018. Half of those cuts are expected by the end of next year.  

Jason Parrott

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin wants a federal review of the state's response to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that killed 12 residents of a western Illinois veterans home. 

http://cropsci.illinois.edu

The University of Illinois plans to reduce off-campus crop research and may shut down several agricultural centers as part of a cost-cutting move tied to flagging state support.
 
The budget cuts will affect the Brownstown Agronomy Research Center near Vandalia; the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center in southern Illinois; the St. Charles Horticulture Research Center west of Chicago; and the Northern Illinois Agronomy Research Center near DeKalb.
 

EliChristman/flickr

Data from the Illinois Secretary of State's office show that more than 5,000 Illinoisans who were convicted of drunken driving four times and had their licenses revoked could legally drive again under a new state law.
 
 Gov. Bruce Rauner last month signed the measure, which would provide restricted permits if drivers prove they are drug and alcohol free for at least three
years.
 
     More than half of the 5,085 eligible drivers live in the Chicago area.
 
 The Chicago Sun-Times reports (http://bit.ly/1FaDWuu ) the Illinois Secretary

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Comptroller Leslie Munger says Illinois' unpaid bills backlog could potentially jump past $8 billion by next year without a state budget. 

IDOT

Illinois' transportation chief has delivered a tough review of the state's capacity to solve problems, saying it's planning ``for yesterday's transportation system.''  

Randy Blankenhorn has served as the secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation for seven months.  

He gave a speech in Chicago Wednesday that cited traffic congestion and sluggish movement of freight as examples of Illinois being too focused on the condition of state roads and bridges. He said the state is failing to look at the bigger picture.  

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