State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

More than $55 million went back to Illinois municipalities from video gaming in 2016. But how do those communities use those funds?

Springfield Budget Director Bill McCarty says the city received about $1.5 million from video gaming last year. Those funds generally contribute to the city’s capital improvement projects, like sidewalk and street maintenance.

However, McCarty says, they haven’t had to dip into the video gaming money yet, thanks to a sales tax increase also contributing to the capital fund.

Members of Illinois government's biggest labor union have voted to allow a strike.  The margin was 81-19, though roughly 40% of AFSCME members chose not to vote or were not eligible.  Union director Roberta Lynch says her members do not want to strike. She says she hopes Governor Bruce Rauner will resume negotiating.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is forming a panel to pick up where a recent commission left off revamping the state's outdated public school funding formula.  The Chicago Democrat says the group will address questions left unanswered by a funding reform commission convened by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner last year. 

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has convened a meeting of legal and civil rights organizations in the wake of what she calls "troubling" executive orders issued by President Donald Trump.  Groups attending today's summit include Arab American Family Services, the Chicago Urban League and Lambda Legal. Group leaders say they fear escalating hate crimes.

Evan Vucci / AP Photo

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Democratic lawmakers from Chicago want portions of Illinois highways named for former President Barack Obama.

Army Medicine / Flickr/Creative Commons

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin wants medical and dental schools in Illinois to have training sessions on responsible opioid prescription.

 

A group of retired military generals is the latest to come out against an element of the Illinois Senate's "grand bargain" legislation. Their focus is a measure that would cut the state’s mandate of daily physical education to just three times a week.

In the week since his budget address, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has done little to promote his plan or defend it from attacks by Democrats. That’s a significant departure from last year.

Back then, Rauner toured the state, highlighting his call for greater funding of public schools. This year, he took a ski vacation in Utah.

Deere and Company makes money for investors even when farmers are suffering. That's one of the messages Chairman and CEO Sam Allen emphasized during today's annual meeting at world headquarters in Moline.

Budget Impasse Could Hit Student Workers

Feb 22, 2017

About 260 Northeastern Illinois University students may be forced out of their campus jobs.

That’s because of a new rule put in place as a result of the ongoing Illinois state budget impasse - and it has implications for every public university in the state.

 

Since January First - Illinois universities haven’t been getting any state money.

To save cash - NEIU is asking its staff to take furlough days. But a new state rule put in place in December makes that process more complicated.

A federal law known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, requires every state to make sure kids become proficient in core subjects, and continue to learn more each year. The law further requires states to come up with a yardstick to measure that success, but allows some flexibility on how heavily test scores will count. Other numbers like graduation rates and college readiness can be factored in.

 

Another group is coming out against part of the so-called grand bargain, meant to end Illinois’ budget impasse. Several retired military generals say relaxing physical education requirements is a threat to national security.

 

Retired Brigadier General Mark Rabin of the Air National Guard says a quarter of Americans between 17 and 24 years old are not fit enough to join the military. The most common problem, he says, is being overweight.

The Illinois State Board of Education has voted to approve the settlement of a years-long lawsuit that claimed discriminatory school funding.
 
The board's Wednesday vote resolves litigation with the Chicago Urban League, which claimed in its 2008 lawsuit that the state's funding model had a "demonstrable, disparate and adverse impact" on minority students.
 

What It Means To Be A Sanctuary City In Urbana

Feb 22, 2017
Jeff Bossert / Illinois Public Radio

On Tuesday, the Trump Administration released details on new policies to ramp up federal immigration detentions and deportations. Ahead of the move, Urbana joined hundreds of other cities in declaring itself a sanctuary city – meaning they’ll offer some protections to people in the country illegally. That could cost the city roughly $1 million in federal funds, based on recent executive orders from the president.

Wikimedia Commons

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago Public Schools principals have been instructed by district officials not to let federal immigration authorities inside district buildings unless they have a criminal warrant.

City governments across Illinois are asking to have their state funding put on autopilot.  It’s the latest consequence of Illinois’ 20-month budget stalemate.  The money in question comes from taxes on gasoline, phone bills, and gambling. It's collected by the state and passed along to local governments.  That is, unless the powers that be never agree on a budget.

Testosterone treatment did not improve older men's memory or mental function in the latest results from landmark government research. The results add to evidence that challenges bold anti-aging claims of popular supplements. 

American and United have started selling cheaper "basic economy" fares as they battle discount airlines for the most budget-conscious travelers.  American announced that it began selling the new fares for flights starting March 1 on 10 different routes from its hub airports in Dallas, Miami, Philadelphia and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Illinois State University is asking the public to weigh in on the institution's future.  The school is asking for community input on the challenges ISU is facing and what the university should look like in 15 to 20 years. People are invited to complete a survey online by Feb. 24.

Hundreds of people who own John Deere stock will come to the Quad Cities tomorrow. Michelle O'Neill reports the company's annual meeting will be held at World Headquarters in Moline.

Shareholders will elect twelve directors, including the newest one, Alan Heuberger. He's Senior Manager at BMGI, a consulting firm specializing in strategic problem-solving. Shareholders will also vote on other routine items such as Deere and Company's accounting firm and executive compensation.

There are 9,469 students enrolled at Western Illinois University this spring semester. It's the first time this century Western's student body has dropped below 10,000.

Former suburban Chicago police officer Drew Peterson has been transferred out of the Illinois prison system and is now in a federal prison in Indiana.  Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said Peterson had been transferred but declined to say why or where, citing security.  The federal Bureau of Prisons says Peterson is in the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.

eBay

Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs don't always see eye to eye.  But they can agree the rivalry is one of the best in sports. Illinois Public Radio’s Sean Crawford tells us it will be on display in Springfield.

The Cubs versus Cardinals Rivalry exhibit will start March 24 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield.  It will run throughout the year.

Flickr Creative Commons/NIAID

School personnel across Illinois are adapting to a new state law that requires districts to have an emergency protocol to deal with asthma emergencies.  Under the new law anyone who works with students must be trained to handle asthma emergencies. 

A group of Illinois legislators are pushing an agenda intended to help farmers who sell at local markets.

Facebook/Darlene Ostrowski

Several hundred people have gathered near Trump Tower in Chicago to protest President Donald Trump.  Today's rally is one of several occurring across the U.S. dubbed "Not My President's Day."  Protesters are speaking out against White House policies on issues ranging from immigration to the environment and health care.

Flickr Creative Commons/John Martinez Pavliga

The issue of how long injured pro athletes should be allowed to earn worker compensation benefits is being debated in Springfield.  The Chicago Bears are leading other Chicago sports franchises in backing a measure that would reduce a former player's ability to tap into workers compensation after a career-ending injury. 

Police say they seized nearly 130 explosives from a home in Normal Illinois.  McLean County Assistant State's Attorney Emily Young says police found 128 explosives devices each containing about a half-ounce of dynamite or explosive powder in the home of 32-year-old Gilbert Wilson.

Several months after first being mentioned as a possible candidate for governor of Illinois, Cheri Bustos has decided against it. Monday the congresswoman from East Moline and the 17th District said she will run for re-election next year instead.

More than 100,000 Illinois drivers were convicted for illegally using their cell phones. That’s since the law went into effect in 2014.

The law says drivers can use their cell phones only with the help of a hands-free device. The Illinois Secretary of State’s office says fewer than one percent of those convictions were from repeat offenders.

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