State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Bruce Rauner has appointed more than three dozen people to lead the planning for Illinois' 200th birthday celebration. 

Among the Illinois Bicentennial Commission members named Friday are former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Springfield Mayor James Langfelder and Southern Illinois University System President Randy Dunn.

Chicago Bulls and White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Dick Wolf, the creator and producer of the TV shows "Chicago Fire" and "Law and Order," also will serve on the commission. 

Nuclear plant workers in Clinton and Quad Cities — not to mention Exelon and ComEd shareholders — got a helping hand from Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly. But there was no such luck for the many social service providers, university students and countless others hoping for Illinois' first full budget in a year-and-a-half.

A group of Democratic Illinois state legislators are suing to get their paychecks more quickly. They've gone without compensation since May 31.

After nearly a year-and-a-half without a full budget, Illinois is taking months and months to pay its bills.

Earlier this year, Comptroller Leslie Munger said she was putting legislator pay at the back of the line with every other state IOU.

Democrats, like Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, from Hillside, say that's just a way to help push Gov. Bruce Rauner's controversial agenda. And that, he says, is unconstitutional.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is defending his veto of millions of dollars set aside for Chicago Public Schools.  The Republican governor says he had a deal with Democrats.  Pass pension reform.  And then Chicago Public Schools would get $215 million.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says legislation that provides billions of dollars in subsidies to power giant Exelon Corp. is imperfect but that he's "proud" of the deal lawmakers reached.  The measure provides $235 million per year to Exelon to keep unprofitable nuclear plants running in Clinton and the Quad Cities.

Chicago officials are creating a legal services fund to help those living in the country illegally and facing deportation.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced $1 million to start the fund that's being run with the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center. The money will be used to help individuals with consultations and representation, among other things.

Rockford police seized $8.6 million in cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl in a raid last month in southeast Rockford, officials announced Thursday.

Officers found the drugs after raiding 629 16th Avenue on Nov. 22, where they arrested 58-year-old Luis Ruiz, according to the Rockford Register Star. He's been charged with delivery of a controlled substance and three counts of possession with intent to deliver.   

Prospects For Budget Deal Still Dim

Dec 2, 2016

Illinois residents are once again facing the prospect of having their elected leaders not agree on a state budget. Illinois Public Radio's Tony Arnold reports.

After a full year without a budget - it looks like the state is heading in that direction again.

 

Governor Bruce Rauner is demanding term limits and a property tax freeze BEFORE a budget.

 

The parent company of United Airlines will pay $2.4 million to settle civil charges by securities regulators over flights that were started to help an official who oversaw one of the airline's hub airports.

Illinois school districts are increasingly relying on local taxpayers to invest in public schools. Illinois finance data show local taxes and school fees now make up 67.4% of revenue for districts statewide, the highest percentage in at least 15 years.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he'll meet with legislative leaders to negotiate a budget deal, and he's willing to include money he vetoed for Chicago Public Schools if it's part of a "comprehensive package."

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger says lawmakers suing her to get back pay are "cowards." The Republican was named in a Cook County lawsuit by six legislators on her last day in office.

A judicial board says a Chicago-area judge who let a law clerk wear robes and preside over traffic cases has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

A group of Democratic Illinois state legislators are suing to get their paychecks more quickly.  As Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey reports, they've gone without compensation since early summer.

After nearly a year-and-a-half  without a full budget, Illinois is taking months and months to pay its bills. Earlier this year, Comptroller Leslie Munger said she was putting legislator pay at the back of the line with every other state IOU.

New projections show nibbling around the edges of the state’s budget problems will get Illinois nowhere. 

quinntheislander / pixabay/Creative Commons

URBANA, Ill. (AP) - The University of Illinois says an index that measures economic growth across the state fell in November.

The university's Institute of Government and Public Affairs said Thursday that its Flash Index fell from 104.3 to 104.1. Any reading above 100 indicates the economy is growing while a reading below 100 shows contraction. November's drop was the third straight monthly decrease in the index.

 The institute said corporate and sales tax receipts were down in November for reasons that are not completely clear.

Illinois lawmakers' two-week, fall veto session has come to an end.

Gov.  Bruce Rauner used his veto pen on 37 bills this second half of the General Assembly's two-year session.

Legislators successfully overrode just one of them -- a relatively minor measure having to do with Chicago fire fighters' pensions. Leaving the rest effectively dead.

That includes automatic voter registration, higher wages for caretakers of the disabled and legislation that will leave a $215 million shortfall in the Chicago Public Schools' budget.

The union that's representing 30 thousand state workers is suing Gov. Bruce Rauner. It filed a lawsuit late Wednesday in St. Clair County circuit court.

The Illinois General Assembly is allowing electric utilities to collect more money from customers. It's part of a deal in which Exelon Corporation has agreed not to close nuclear plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities for at least ten years.

A Sycamore Public Library program called "Books and Barks" allows children to read books to canine companions one night a week.

Ten-year-old William Akst says he's been coming to the library for three years to participate in the program. 

In his latest session, Akst was reading a book about World War II to a black dog named Joey, who sported a red bandana. Akst says he’s seen a wide variety of dogs in his time during Books and Barks.

The union that’s representing 30,000 state workers is suing Governor Bruce Rauner.  It filed a lawsuit late yesterday in Saint Clair County circuit court.  AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says Rauner is starting to implement a new state contract before the law allows.

In a sign the stalemate in Springfield is as strong as ever, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that had once been held up as proof he and Democratic leaders were capable of working together.  The action leaves politicians divided.  And it could leave the financially-ailing Chicago Public Schools short some $215 million.

With just one month until Illinois government loses spending authority, the state's political leaders remain sharply divided on how to unwind the crisis.

They've been clear about their positions: Republicans say no budget deal without first adopting the governor's agenda, which aims to help businesses, weaken labor unions and sideline long-serving politicians.

Democrats, on the other hand, have said state spending cannot be held hostage to such "non-budget issues."

Flickr Creative Commons/Tony Webster

November was another bloody month in Chicago, ending with more than twice as many homicides as during the same month last year.  The 77 homicides recorded in November 2016 mark the highest death toll for that month in nearly a quarter century. 

A group of Chicago-area residents accused of stealing $60,000 worth of handbags in a brazen smash-and-grab in suburban St. Louis are suspected in similar crimes in three other states involving nearly $2 million in thefts and damage.

Flickr Creative Commons/Jim Larrison

Illinois prison officials have moved the last 36 inmates of a Stateville Correctional Center roundhouse that a Chicago watchdog group deemed unfit for humans to live in.  Illinois Department of Corrections officials say the maximum-security F House at Stateville in Crest Hill, which housed 348 male inmates, is closed.

Peoria Public Radio

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois' major public-employee union has filed a lawsuit to stop Gov. Bruce Rauner from imposing contract terms because negotiations have been declared hopelessly deadlocked.

The action is likely only temporary, however. 

 The state council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees went to labor-friendly St. Clair County Wednesday. It's asking a judge to bar Republican Rauner from taking action to implement the contract. 

Exelon says it finally has a deal to subsidize its nuclear energy plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities. The corporation says Governor Bruce Rauner’s support was key.

But some Illinois legislators are nervous the governor might change his mind.

You remember those Charlie Brown specials, where Lucy promises she’ll hold the football?

“You just want me to come running up to kick that ball so you can pull it away and see me lie flat on my back and kill myself," Charlie says.

Will Illinois legislators pass a tax increase before a new General Assembly takes over in mid January? A majority of Illinois state representatives say no.

There's no sign a vote on a tax hike is coming; Illinois' Republican governor, Bruce Rauner, and the Democrats who control the legislature remain divided on the path forward.

But the last time there was an income tax increase, legislators passed it during the so-called "lame duck" session. That's when lawmakers who either lost re-election or who retired are still around.

With just one month until Illinois government loses spending authority, the state's political leaders remain sharply divided on how to unwind the crisis.  They've been clear about their positions: Republicans say no budget deal without first adopting the governor's agenda, which aims to help businesses, weaken labor unions and sideline long-serving politicians.

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