State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

The organization leading efforts to renovate the Illinois governor's mansion says it received $1-million in donations last year.  The mansion has fallen into disrepair in recent years with a flooded basement, leaky roof and peeling paint. 

Illinois transportation planners are awaiting details of how they could use a potential multi-million dollar windfall for the state.

North Country Public Radio

SPRINGFIELD, Il. (AP) - Illinois has received additional time to determine whether to seek a federal disaster declaration for early-winter floods.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency says its federal counterpart has extended by two weeks a Friday deadline to make such a request. The state agency had sought to push the deadline back to mid-March. 

Illinois lawmakers are once again considering an intervention in state labor negotiations.  Contract talks have stalled between Illinois' biggest government labor union AFSCME  and Governor Bruce Rauner.  

Supporters of changing the way Illinois draws its legislative districts did not waste any time yesterday. They immediately began claiming President Barack Obama endorsed their idea in his speech. But the president has taken pains to be more nuanced.

A Chicago man has won a $1-million verdict in a lawsuit that accuses police of rigging a photo lineup to ensure he would be wrongly identified as an armed robbery suspect. 

Belvoir Photos / Flickr/Creative Commons

MASCOUTAH, Ill. (AP) - Members of Illinois' congressional delegation are appealing to the head of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in support of Scott Air Force Base's bid to host its new facility.

 U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk and other Illinois congressmen wrote a letter to NGA Director Robert Cardillo this week, urging him to select a 182-acre site in St. Clair County as the location of the agency's new $1.6 billion campus. 

Cardillo visited with U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois' 12th congressional district and others in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

Teemu008 / Flickr/Creative Commons

CHICAGO (AP) - A judge has breathed new life into a priest sexual abuse case that has dogged the Archdiocese of Chicago for a decade.

Cook County Circuit Judge Clare McWilliams ruled Tuesday that those who were sexual abuse victims of former priest Daniel McCormack after September 2000 can seek punitive damages from the archdiocese if their lawsuits proceed to trial.

DaOpfer / Flickr/Creative Commons

Illinois State Representative Terri Bryant wants to make it illegal for people to upload videos of fights to social media for entertainment. 

The Murphysboro Republican says violators would be slapped with a disorderly conduct misdemeanor.

Michael Curtis teaches law enforcement at Western Illinois University. He says what’s entertainment for some, could be evidence for others.

iDanSimpson / Flickr/Creative Commons

CHICAGO (AP) - A Chicago-based research group says cleaning up Illinois' budget mess will require difficult decisions such as raising the income tax, slashing spending and imposing taxes on food, services and some retirement income.

In an analysis released Thursday, the Civic Federation's Institute for Illinois' Fiscal Sustainability says the state budget stalemate has only exacerbated Illinois' enormous financial problems. 

Illinois State Board of Education

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois State Board of Education has approved 29 school districts for low-interest and zero-interest bonds to pay for the construction and remodeling of schools.

The districts will be able to borrow, in total, $495 million through the Qualified School Construction Bond program. The program was created in 2009 as part of federal stimulus package after the Great Recession. 

Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

President Barack Obama returned to his political beginnings Wed. and delivered an unprecedented hour-long speech to Illinois state lawmakers. He delivered the speech on the 9th anniversary of the day he launched his campaign for president from Springfield.

The point of the speech was to address the extreme political polarization he sees happening in the country - and Illinois. But afterwards, just about the only thing Republicans and Democrats agreed on is that the speech wouldn’t change things.

Illinois' school funding formula relies heavily on property taxes, resulting in deep disparities in districts’ levels of spending. When the state school board met this morning, members talked about a potential change to make the funding formula more equitable. 

Art lovers have a chance to spend one starry night in Vincent Van Gogh's bedroom for only $10.  The Art Institute of Chicago decorated a one-bedroom apartment to look like Van Gogh's painting of his bedroom in the south of France. 

President Barack Obama says lawmakers should rethink how congressional districts are drawn as a way to improve the country's political climate. 

blmurch / Flickr/Creative Commons

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois motorists will stop receiving mailed notifications about vehicle emissions testing, starting with vehicle owners whose license plates expire at the end of March. 

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Secretary of State's office announced the temporary policy changes regarding vehicle emission test notification and vehicle renewal procedures on Tuesday.

grendelkhan / Flickr/Creative Commons

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago's City Council is expected to approve a $3.1 million settlement of a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department that alleged the police department's residency requirements discriminated against foreign-born applicants. 

On Wednesday, the Council will likely follow the recommendation made Monday by the council's finance committee to settle the class-action lawsuit. 

Kathryn Harris

A group that is devoted to the legacy of Springfield's favorite son will install its first African American and first female president this month.

Kathryn Harris will assume the duties of the Abraham Lincoln Association Thursday.   She's been vice president for nearly two years and has been a longtime board member.

"I am hoping to bring the attention of the community to the Abraham Lincoln Association through more diverse ways and get more membership and interest from other groups including African Americans and young people," she said.

 

 

President Barack Obama is set to address the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield Wednesday. Statehouse reporter Brian Mackey filed this preview of what the president is expected to say — and what he probably won’t say.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says layoffs of county workers and program cuts are possible because the state of Illinois doesn't have a budget.

Chicago improv troupe Second City is opening a school focusing on comedic filmmaking and naming it after late writer-director-actor Harold Ramis.

A suburban Chicago store owner has been charged with selling synthetic urine to help people pass drug and alcohol tests.

A 9-foot-tall menorah at a University of Illinois Jewish student center has been damaged for a third time in less than a year. The center's rabbi believes school leaders haven't taken a strong enough stand against the vandalism.

An Illinois lawmaker wants to criminalize recording fights in order to post them online.   Rep. Terri Bryant says she was disturbed by a video of an altercation between two boys from her hometown of Murphysboro that was posted to Facebook. 

A group of child care providers from the Chicago area descended on the Illinois Child Care Resource and Referral Agency in Bloomington to push for more money. During an Illinois Department of Human Services public hearing, the group pushed for what it calls a "fair" wage of $15 an hour. Sharon Norwood of Chicago, one of the child care providers speaking at the hearing, says the state budget stalemate is cutting into her wages.

Illinois has more units of government than any other state and the second highest property taxes. That's just part of the problem, according to Governor Bruce Rauner, who told members of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce that Illinois should "aim for average." 

Indiana Public Media / Flickr/Creative Commons

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Police say Bloomington had a second consecutive year of record-low numbers of serious crimes in 2015. 

There were no homicides last year - the first year without one since 1997. 

Police Chief Brendan Heffner says "we will keep working hard" to keep the number low. The percentage of serious crimes in 2015 was 11.6 percent lower than a year earlier. There were 232 fewer reports of serious crime than the 2,001 in 2014.  The 2014 decrease was 13.3 percent from 2013.  

The Bent Tree / Flickr/Creative Commons

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois officials say college students should continue to apply for financial aid, even though the state budget impasse has put grants for needy students on hold.

The Illinois Student Assistance Commission is encouraging students to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The form determines if a student is eligible for most financial aid programs, including Illinois' Monetary Award Program, or MAP grants. 

 

Chicago Public School's fiscal problems continue. Meanwhile, some universities are trying to figure out how to keep their doors open without state funding. 

For this week’s Past Due, Jamey Dunn sat down with Sean Crawford to give an update about the budget impact on education in Illinois. 

The Democratic candidates for Illinois’ U-S Senate seat had their first informal debate today.

And it grew contentious over the issue of Laquan McDonald’s death and prosecuting police officers.

 

The Chicago Tribune editorial board asked the three candidates if the federal government should investigate practices at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.

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