State News

State news stories and features from Illinois Public Radio.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A photograph taken in central Illinois of a monarch butterfly perched on a yellow goldenrod flower is featured on a new U.S. Postal Service stamp.

Stacy Thacker / AP Photo

CHICAGO (AP) - Hundreds of people marched in Chicago as part of efforts to take a stand against racism in response to a white supremacist rally that spiraled into deadly violence in Virginia.

J.B. Pritzker / Twitter

The Cook County Democratic Party has endorsed J-B Pritzker for Illinois governor. But other Democrats say the party should not pick a favorite for the primary. Before the endorsement, State Senator Daniel Biss told party bosses the pick shows Democrats didn’t learn any lessons from the 2016 fight between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

Dozens of Metro East school superintendents made one thing clear Friday: They need state money, and they need it now.

Illinois’ new school funding formula is tied up in another political battle, one that could end next week when lawmakers have a chance to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s partial veto.

The Illinois State Senate spent Sunday in session, where Senators voted 38 to 19 to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of the new school funding bill. The override wasn't a surprise, because this new evidence-based funding plan had originally cleared the Senate with a veto-proof majority. The House, however, represents a higher hurdle, where Democrats will need Republicans to vote with them. That vote is scheduled for Wednesday.


Sen. Andy Manar, the Bunker Hill Democrat who sponsored the measure, says he'd rather negotiate a compromise.

Northern Illinois University’s Acting President says it’s time to repair the damage done by the state budget impasse.  That includes addressing employee compensation.

First Responders in DeKalb Receive K-9 Training

Aug 14, 2017

DeKalb fire officials say they recently completed their first-ever training session about caring for police K-9 units in the event of an emergency.

DeKalb Deputy Fire Chief Jeff McMaster says first responders complete required Emergency Medical Services training every month touching on various subjects. But this time around was a little different.

“We’ve never had this type of training before, so it was new, it was fresh and very engaging.”

The Illinois State Fair began yesterday with the usual variety of attractions—AND a few changes.

Governor Bruce Rauner joined organizers to declare the fair officially open.

(applause) “What a great day, one of the greatest days of the year! The opening of the Illinois State Fair 2017—165 years. Extraordinary. One of the oldest, most beautiful, biggest, best state fairs in America.”

The ribbon-cutting was moved up to Thursday afternoon — in previous years, it’d been left to Friday mornings. And that’s not the only change.

Chicago has asked a federal judge to halt President Donald Trump's policy of withholding public safety grants from so-called sanctuary cities.
The request was filed late Thursday as part of Chicago's lawsuit challenging the policy, which targets cities that don't fully cooperate with stricter enforcement of U.S. immigration law.
A preliminary injunction, if granted, could freeze the safety-grants policy at least until the litigation plays out.

Manar Hopes For School Funding Compromise

Aug 11, 2017
Peoria Public Radio

The chief sponsor of Illinois’ education funding reform bill says he still hopes to work out a compromise with Republicans on a new version of the bill.

But State Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill says that if he has to, he’ll back an override of Governor Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of the measure, when the Illinois Senate meets on Sunday.

twitter/JB Pritzker

Today, the Cook County Democratic Party officially endorsed J-B Pritzker’s campaign for Illinois governor ahead of next year’s primary.

Pritzker says he doesn’t need the party’s money - the billionaire has already given his own campaign more than $21 million dollars. But the endorsement means organizational help and his name on mailers.

Pritzker addressed Cook County Democratic officials this morning (FRI).

PRITZKER: Like no other candidate in this race, I am focused on building up the party, uniting the Democratic Party.

Illinois Issues: The Rural Exodus

Aug 11, 2017

Analysis: What should be done to respond to loss of rural population?

Between a new state pension plan and Gov. Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of the Democrats' school funding plan, some school districts would be in for a big hit in July 2020. The two changes would have a particularly significant impact on districts with high rates of teacher turnover and declining enrollment.

  CHICAGO - Chicago officials say all students and accompanying adults will again get free Chicago Transit Authority bus and train rides for the first-day school this upcoming school year.


School starts on Sept. 5 for the nation's third-largest district.


The free rides program was started in 2011 with the goal of encouraging school attendance. Last year about 128,000 free rides were given to students and adults.


  MATTOON, Ill. - A central Illinois General Electric Lighting plant that once employed as many as 1,800 people is closing this week.


The 71-year-old factory will permanently close at the end of the day Friday. GE Lighting spokeswoman Alicia Gauer says 133 employees remain on the job at the plant. She says 36 of them will remain for various lengths of time to clean, disconnect equipment and prepare the plant for possible future use. Gauer says GE expects that to take three to four months.


Gov Rauner Opens State Fair

Aug 11, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Gov. Bruce Rauner opened the 2017 Illinois State Fair. The Republican cut the ribbon on the agricultural extravaganza Thursday.


That's a day earlier than usual. It preceded the "Twilight Parade" which traditionally kicks off the festivities.


Agriculture Department Director Raymond Poe tripped shortly after the ribbon cutting. The 73-year-old Springfield farmer fell backward on the Main Gate pavement. Witnesses said he struck his head.  


DeKalb and Rochelle may be in the running for a massive new auto manufacturing plant. Toyota and Mazda announced they are teaming up to build a one-and-a-half billion dollar factory in the U.S., but didn’t specify the site.

State Representative Tom Demmer says he knows state and local economic development officials are working on a code-named project that meets the same specifications of the Toyota/Mazda plan. Demmer says he’s not surprised DeKalb and Rochelle are contenders:

Hardiman Names Patricia Avery as 2018 Running Mate

Aug 10, 2017

Democratic candidate for governor Tio Hardiman says he chose Patricia Avery as his running mate because of her connections and her resume.

Speaking in Champaign today at an event announcing Avery’s candidacy for lieutenant governor, Hardiman says her experience was a big factor in his choice.

Pritzker Chooses Stratton as His 2018 Running Mate

Aug 10, 2017
Illinois Public Radio

J.B. Pritzker announced his running mate today as he pursues the Democratic nomination for Illinois governor.

Pritzker’s pick for lieutenant governor is State Representative Juliana Stratton of Chicago.

Pritzker and other Democrats have been focusing a lot on issues affecting African-American voters.

At a rally in Chicago - Stratton - who’s black - said her community has been on the wrong side of the criminal justice system for too long.

STRATTON: We have been ignored and suffered decades of disinvestment.

For the past 75 years, Illinois has failed to make sufficient contributions to its Teachers Retirement System. As a result, TRS has a massive unfunded liability.

Governor Signs Procurement Reform Bill

Aug 10, 2017
Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Radio



Gov. Bruce Rauner came to the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus Wed. to sign a bill streamlining the procurement process for state institutions.

School districts are due to receive state funds Aug. 10th, but that can't happen until lawmakers either override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of Senate Bill 1 or come up with some other plan he will sign.

A new law will allow people leaving Illinois prisons to get a copy of their birth certificate for free.

It’s meant to make it easier for former prisoners to get a state ID - which is necessary to apply for things like jobs and housing.

Former inmate David Ikonomopoulos says his driver’s license never made it from the police department that arrested him to the state prison where he served his sentence.

A new Illinois law wants to increase energy efficiency...but one supplier is not hitting the target.

Illinois State Representative Elaine Nekritz, a Democrat from Buffalo Grove, says the Future Energy Jobs Act is supposed to bring more jobs to the state while also cutting down on energy costs.

Negotiations in the law made Ameren's efficiency goal lower than other energy providers. Ameren is supposed to reduce energy waste by 16 percent by 2030.

Wikimedia Commons

Governor Bruce Rauner came to the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus today to sign a bill streamlining the procurement process for state institutions.

It’s a bill that state universities have long wanted to speed up the process of purchasing goods and equipment.

Rauner said the bill isn’t perfect, but it will make the procurement process easier for both vendors and state agencies like universities.

Local school districts would have to pay pension costs for all newly-hired teachers if the General Assembly upholds Governor Bruce Rauner's rewrite of the school funding plan known as Senate Bill One.

Ever since SB1 was approved on votes mainly cast by Democrats, Rauner has promised to rewrite portions that he deemed too generous to Chicago Public Schools. When he issued his amendatory veto last week, it turned out his changes went far beyond CPS.


During its two-year state budget crisis, Illinois racked up more than $3 billion in debt to providers who serve the state’s most vulnerable patients - and it could be months, even years, before it’s all paid off. As Christine Herman reports, some doctors in private practice are being pushed to the brink as they wait.



"<door knock> How are you doing? Good, how are you? Good."

The first Monarch blitz is over, and 300 people in the US participated by counting eggs, caterpillars, chrysalides, and butterflies. The citizen scientists then submitted their findings to the Monarch Lab at the University of Minnesota.


Another voice is urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to work with the budget that was passed over his objections.

A Republican state representative is urging Governor Bruce Rauner to issue bonds to start paying down the backlog of bills.

Representative David Harris, from Arlington Heights, is one of the Republicans who voted with Democrats to raise taxes and pass a budget. He says the state’s 14-billion dollars in unpaid bills was a big reason why.