State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Parents alarmed by the realization that their teenagers cannot decipher cursive handwriting have inspired one Illinois lawmaker to propose requiring schools to offer a course on the art of the flowing font.

Kids use computer keyboards for most communication these days, but what if they need to sign a legal document or read a letter from grandma? State Representative Chris Welch, a Democrat from Hillside, says they’re going to need cursive for that. He’s sponsoring a measure that would ensure students receive at least one class in old-school slanted script. 

Cal Injury Lawyer / Flickr/Creative Commons

A group of Illinois contractors is accusing Gov. Bruce Rauner of violating the state Constitution.

Wikimedia Commons

CHICAGO (AP) - Immigration officials in the Chicago area have shifted where they detain immigrants being deported to Mexico. 

Property taxes, PE, police, twins, tampons, Title I funds, teacher evaluations, lactating students and lottery dollars — these are a few of the legislative measures working their way through education committees in the General Assembly.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's office has filed paperwork to ensure a new deputy governor isn't paid from an insurance fund that is $4 billion behind on medical payments.  The state comptroller received a letter from Rauner's fiscal officer. It requests that a portion of Leslie Munger's $138,000 salary come from a professional services fund. 

Flickr Creative Commons/Sholeh

Enrollment in Illinois’ public universities and community colleges continues to decline. That’s according to figures released  by the state Board of Higher Education.  The three University of Illinois campuses and Governors State University all experienced slight gains in undergraduate enrollment over the past year, but all other public universities reported declines. 

Final arguments have been given in the retrial of a former Illinois prosecutor charged with murder in the 2006 death of his first wife.  Special prosecutor David Robinson summarized the evidence against former Adams County Assistant State's Attorney Curtis Lovelace, who is accused in the death of Cory Lovelace. 

Governor Bruce Rauner is predicting companies would flee the state if Illinois changed its income tax structure.  Currently the personal income tax rate is 3.75%.  Some Democratic candidates for governor are starting to campaign on changing to a graduated income tax rate - so wealthy people pay more.  Rauner says that proposal would result in business owners leaving Illinois.

Rookie doctors can work up to 24 hours straight under new work limits taking effect this summer. Supporters say the move will enhance training but foes maintain it will do just the opposite. 

Rauner Accuses Comptroller of Leaking False Story

Mar 10, 2017

Governor Bruce Rauner is accusing Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza of leaking a false story about his administration.  The accusation comes a day after the AP published a story about Rauner paying his deputy governor’s salary out of an employee health care account.  That account is already more than 4 billion dollars in debt.  Rauner says the story was "a political plant that should never have been reported."

A Singapore teenager awaiting a Chicago immigration judge's ruling on his asylum request says he's fearful of returning home after scathing blog posts criticizing his government landed him in a Singapore jail.  Amos Yee says he fears the Singapore government will target him if his asylum application is denied. However, the 18-year-old says he'll keep speaking out whether or not he's allowed to stay in the U.S.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has little to say to journalists, and that's not just a problem for reporters.

Healthcare leaders are voicing concerns about the Republican repeal plan to the Affordable Care Act.

Democrat Dick Durbin is traveling the state to meet with those who would be affected by the House changes.

Illinois Democrats want to make it harder for outside political groups to confuse voters with absentee ballot schemes.


Chicago's top law enforcement officer says an Illinois Senate proposal to increase prison sentences for repeat gun offenders would help stanch the city's rampant gun violence.  The proposal would direct courts to toughen penalties for repeat gun offenders within existing sentencing limits of current law. Judges could still hand out lighter sentences. But they'd be required to explain the factors behind their decisions.

A lawyer for a sexual abuse victim of Dennis Hastert says she'll depose the former U.S. House speaker after he's released from federal custody.  Kristi Browne represents a former Yorkville High School athlete who is suing Hastert for breach of contract in the hush-money pact that led to the Illinois Republican's downfall.  Browne says no settlement has been discussed.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office arranged to pay half of the salary for the political ally he hired last month from an employee health care account that is $4 billion-dollars behind on paying bills.  Republican Leslie Munger is one of Rauner's deputy governors. Half her $138,000 salary is set to come from health insurance premiums paid by state employees.

Illinois lawmakers may change the law to make sure absentee ballot applications are sent directly to county clerks and without delay.

In Springfield Thursday, Rock Island County State's Attorney John McGehee testified before the House Elections and Campaign Finance Committee.

A Wall Street rating agency says Chicago isn't alone in grappling with underfunded city employee pensions, but that it's in the worst shape among the nation's 15 largest cities.  The city registered the highest annual debt, pension post-employment benefits costs as a percentage of governmental expenditures, and the highest debt and pension liability per capita.

Climate scientists say a freakishly warm February broke more than 11,700 local daily records for warmth in the United States. But it didn't quite beat 1954 for the nation's warmest February on record.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that the average temperature last month was 41.2 degrees. That's 7.3 degrees warmer than normal but three-tenths a degree behind the record.

A memo says Illinois prison officials wanted Drew Peterson transferred to a federal prison because the former suburban police officer convicted of killing his third wife and plotting to kill the prosecutor, posed a danger to the prison.

National Guard Bureau / Wikimedia Commons

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The first woman to be promoted to brigadier general in the Illinois National Guard is retiring. 

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is taking her case over state employee pay to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Governor Bruce Rauner is accusing three of Illinois’ top Democrats of “coordinating” to shut down state government. All three deny the charge.

Liberal groups and Illinois lawmakers celebrated International Women’s Day at the state Capitol. But one subset of legislators was absent: Republicans.

The all-Democratic list of speakers didn’t shy away from politics. There were shots at the governor, and talk of a legislative platform focused on social services and health care access for women.

But Democratic state Senator Toi Hutchinson, of Olympia Fields, says there is respect for GOP women … like Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, who launched the “grand bargain” negotiations:

Cleanup and assessment continues in the wake of the tornado that hit La Salle County last week.

Two people died as a result of the storm that ran straight through the Village of Naplate and the south side of the City of Ottawa.

Connie Brooks is the director of the LaSalle County Emergency Management Agency. She says she and others have been out every day to assess the damage, and have some preliminary numbers.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is taking her case over state employee pay to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Madigan is asking the justices to review a lower court order that’s kept state workers getting paid during the 20-month budget stalemate.

She says the order has enabled Gov. Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly to shirk their constitutional  obligation, avoiding tough decisions about state spending.

National Cancer Institute / Wikimedia Commons

Health officials have declared a mumps outbreak at a suburban Chicago high school after confirming a third case among its students.

The Lake County Health Department says it has nearly 20 suspected mumps cases at Barrington High School, along with an adult from Lake Zurich and a Libertyville High School student.

Those cases come as the U.S. is in the midst of one of the largest mumps surges in decades, with schools and college campuses in many states contending with outbreaks.

A judge has ruled that the Illinois state comptroller may direct which accounts should be used to pay state employees.  

Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza reported yesterday that St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien ruled against Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. She may decide how to pay 600 employees.

Rauner wanted the Department of Central Management Services workers paid from general revenue. But there's a two-year budget stalemate and no appropriations for that fund.

Illinois Senate Democrats are asking state agency heads to answer for Governor Bruce Rauner’s decision to pull votes off the “grand bargain.”  The governor’s own budget proposal depends on the grand bargain, otherwise it’s short by $4.6 billion.  

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