State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

Kennedy Says Property Tax System Is Root Of Problems

May 30, 2017
Facebook/Kennedy of Illinois

Illinois governor candidate Chris Kennedy says the state’s property tax system is rigged to benefit the politically powerful.  But the Democrat is not naming names. Kennedy says the property tax system is at the root of problems like gun violence and education funding. 

The Illinois House has approved a plan to raise Illinois’ minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour. But it faces an uphill climb to become law.  A higher minimum wage has been a rallying point for Democrats and labor unions across the country.

Former Illini football player Simon Cvijanovic took to Twitter last night to announce that he has settled his lawsuit against the University of Illinois.  Cvijanovic posted a copy of a news release from the Chicago law firm representing him stating that the U of I has settled the case for $250,000 to compensate for injuries and medical expenses he sustained during his time as a football player at Illinois.  

Facebook/Northeastern Illinois University

Northeastern Illinois University will lay off workers to cope with an Illinois budget impasse that has reduced state funding.  The university announced it will eliminate about 180 full-time jobs in the coming weeks.  Interim President Richard Helldobler says 130 of those who will receive layoff notices are civil service employees. The remainder will be administrative professionals.

Flickr Creative Commons/Paul Downey

Lawmakers in Springfield have been considering a bill that would allow Illinois farmers to grow industrial hemp. Democratic state Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields is sponsoring the legislation. It passed the state Senate this month and is headed to the House. 

A county judge has ruled an Illinois man can remain anonymous as he sues Dennis Hastert, saying the former House speaker sexually assaulted him when he was a fourth-grader.  It's at least the fifth such allegation against Hastert, who will soon be released from prison in a hush-money case.  

In Hannibal Missouri, along the Mississippi River, there's a monument remembering 3 youngsters who disappeared.

Craig Dowell, Joey Hoag and Billy Hoag went missing May 10, 1967.

Flickr Creative Commons/Alan Cleaver

The Illinois Senate has approved a two-year property tax freeze.  Democratic Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago pushed two property-tax freezes measures through the Senate. 

A bill is headed to Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner that would let the state put advertisements on license plate renewal reminders.  The Illinois Senate unanimously approved the measure. Secretary of State Jesse White suggested ads earlier this year, saying they would help pay for the cost of mailing the reminders. White's office didn't send the notices in 2015 because of lack of money amid state budget troubles.

An Illinois House panel has endorsed a plan to make it easier to consolidate local governments. The Executive Committee approved a proposal that eases the process of merging or dissolving townships, or for cities to absorb townships of the same geographical area. 

Facebook/Fair Economy Illinois

Protesters pushing for plans to close so-called corporate tax loopholes and tax the wealthy at higher rates have disrupted proceedings at the state Capitol.  Roughly a dozen chanting protesters were removed from the House gallery as lawmakers were in session. Illinois Secretary of State spokesman Henry Haupt says no arrests were made.

Earlier this year, NPR analyzed the length of wait times for veterans to get appointments and treatment at Veterans Affairs medical facilities. Over the next few days, you will hear a Midwestern perspective on a federal program trying to improve veterans care.

Project Luz / Flickr/Creative Commons

The Illinois House approved a measure that would prohibit local law enforcement agencies independently from enforcing federal civil immigration laws. 

Illinois House OKs Stricter Gun Crime Sentences

May 30, 2017
Seth Perlman / Associated Press



The Illinois House has endorsed tougher sentences for repeat gun offenders in an attempt to curb Chicago violence.

Illinois Democrats remain divided over how to address the state’s financial crisis.

Democrats Divided as Budget Deadline Approaches

May 29, 2017

The Illinois General Assembly is just three days away from the traditional deadline for passing a budget.  The Democratic majority in the Illinois House is wrestling with what to do.  State Representative Jay Hoffman, from Swansea, says his fellow Democrats are divided about what to cut and whether to raise taxes.

A group of military veterans in southern Illinois hopes their Memorial Day weekend effort to play the longest non-stop baseball game ever was successful.  The marathon game ended about 10:20 a.m. today after 74 hours, 26 minutes and 52 seconds. 

Flickr Creative Commons/Matt Stoller

An Illinois man accuses Dennis Hastert in a new lawsuit of sexually assaulting him when he was a fourth-grader, at least the fifth such allegation against the former House speaker who will soon be released from prison in a hush-money case.

One of Illinois' oldest conservation groups is marking 120 years since its founding. The Illinois Audubon Society says it'll gather next month at Chicago's Field Museum to celebrate the anniversary.   The nonprofit organization was established in 1897, dedicated to the protection of birds. 

The Illinois House has unanimously approved changes to state purchasing laws that tighten changes enacted in 2009 after former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached and imprisoned for political corruption. 

A suburban Chicago mayor is joining Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in calling for a permanent freeze on property taxes.  Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau says he is committed to keeping property taxes low while maintaining services. 

Flickr Creative Commons/NEC Corporation of America

The number of medical school graduates who stay in Illinois after graduating from the state's public universities is plummeting.  Crain's Chicago Business reports school officials offer different reasons why, but some point to Illinois' two-year budget impasse.

Paul Coussens

Illinois school chiefs are pressing lawmakers to pass a budget that fully funds schools before the legislative session draws to a close this week.  School district superintendents from across the state will convene at the state Capitol on the General Assembly's Wednesday deadline to urge lawmakers to produce the state's first complete budget in two years. 

The Illinois Legislature has overwhelmingly endorsed a plan to automatically register qualified voters.  The proposal would register eligible individuals automatically when they visit Secretary of State's offices and several other state agencies unless they opt out. The House endorsed it 115-0. It now returns to the Senate for agreements on changes.

U.S. Navy / Creative Commons

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) - Illinois State University is getting a $3 million boost for its new cybersecurity program that'll start this fall. 


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Unsung heroes at least 50 years old who are making contributions to communities and improving cities and neighborhoods are eligible for recognition by AARP Illinois. 

Katherine Johnson / Flickr/Creative Commons

 SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House plans to continue debating a proposed income tax increase as the Senate returns to the question of a property tax freeze. 

Illinois’ top election officials say the nearly two-year budget stalemate could interfere with preparations for next year’s election. The warning came at a budget hearing Sunday afternoon.

QC Mental Health Treatment Reaches General Assembly

May 29, 2017

A bill that would allow Illinois and Iowa mental health patients to get treatment across the border is now headed to Governor Bruce Rauner's desk.

Democrats in the Illinois Senate today made another attempt to meet the demands of Governor Bruce Rauner’s economic agenda.  The Republican governor has said the expense of workers compensation insurance has driven businesses out of the state.