Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Budget Deal Will Bring Relief, But Also Bring Cuts

When the state finally has a budget, who will be left out? Illinois is facing the very real possibility of going for more than half of the current fiscal year without a budget. Over that same six months, court orders, consent decrees and the one budget bill that Gov. Bruce Rauner did sign — funding for K-12 education — put the state on track to spend well above the revenue it’s taking in. Illinois Comptroller LeslieMunger estimates that roughly 90 percent of state spending is still happening,...
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Katie Finlon / WNIJ

As we enter the holiday season, many workers are thinking about the extra days off. 

The State Chamber of Commerce keeps tabs on paid holidays by employers across the state. The average number of paid holidays in Illinois comes in at nearly nine days a year with an average of nearly three personal paid days thrown in.

Looking ahead to the next year, nearly 98 percent of employers will give paid holidays for New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day … along with Thanksgiving.

This Year’s Holiday Shopping Expected To Increase

6 hours ago
Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

A national retail group says sales are expected to increase nearly four percent over last year's holiday shopping.

While the expected 3.7 percent increase is in line with the five year shopping average, there is a difference. 

A National Retail Federation report saying almost half of those sales will be on line...and 20 percent of shoppers will use their smart phone to make a purchase. That means solid hiring for the season at companies like Amazon and shipping firms like Fed EX and UPS.

Flickr user Brandon Blahnik / "House" (CC V 2.0)

Home prices are on the rise in Illinois.

The statewide median price of a home was up over 6 percent in October to 168-thousand dollars. But overall sales were down amid tighter inventory. 

The number of homes listed was down 10 percent compared to the same time last year.   

That means it's a good time to be a seller.  Homes are staying on the market fewer days … 68 now compared to 74 a year ago.

While the holidays tend to always see a decline in homes being offered, the state's realtors say the drop off in October was especially steep.

Flickr user Loren Kerns / "100/36: November PDX leaves" (CC V. 2.0)

It’s another sign of winter: the end of leaf pickup along with the regular garbage pickup – at least in one northern Illinois city.

Monday through Thursday will be the last days of 2015 that residents can put bundled branches or bagged leaves out with the regular garbage in Rockford.

Rockford officials note that yard waste will be taken only if it’s in compostable paper bags or in garbage cans clearly marked with a large X – and weighing less than 50 pounds.

It has become de rigueur to write about the woes of Thanksgiving table political arguments. If you are unlucky enough to actually experience these, you may have noticed that the fights at the Thanksgiving table have grown more heated in recent years. That would make sense — after all, we keep hearing that Capitol Hill is growing more polarized (and, relatedly, paralyzed).

Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Radio

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and your refrigerator is filled with leftovers from the big meal. You might just warm them up and eat them as they are … or you might get a bit creative. 

Jessica Gorin has some suggestions on the topic.

First thing Friday morning, Bill Florence is getting his two kids, Chloe, 11, and Austen, 8, ready to head out the door.

"Did you guys brush your teeth?" he asks. "Yes," they moan.

Monday through Thursday, Chloe and Austen catch the bus to Peralta Trail Elementary School, but today, their dad scoots them into the family's silver Honda.

Many Americans Believe They Don't Need The Flu Vaccine

8 hours ago

Flu season is in swing and likely won't let up until April.

It seemed like high time to check in on how Americans feel about flu vaccination, so we asked more than 3,000 adults in the latest NPR-Truven Health Analytics Health Poll, conducted during the first half of October.

All told, 62 percent of people said they had been vaccinated or intended to get vaccinated against flu.

Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Thinking about attending Rockford’s Stroll on State this Saturday, Nov. 28? Well, now there’s an app to help you plan out your evening.

The Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau says the new interactive "Plan Your Stroll" application, available at, will allow people to pick what events and attractions they want to attend.  They can then create a personalized map to help them navigate Stroll on State the night of the event.

Tristian Ellis’ test scores in reading and math dropped dramatically this fall from last. The difference: the Ellis family had its own apartment last year. Now, the family of four stays in a shelter on Chicago’s far north side.

For the 8-year-old student, who attends LEARN Excel Charter on the city’s northwest side, distractions abound. His mother, Latoya Ellis, lost her job in August and moved into the shelter a month later. She describes being homeless as “a very devastating experience,’’ which is particularly hard on Tristian, her youngest child.