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It’s much easier to pay energy bills in Illinois compared to much of the country, according to a recent survey by WalletHub. 

The survey examined the average monthly amount each state’s residents spent for natural gas, electricity, home heating oil, and gasoline and compared that with the average monthly consumption of each resource.

Jenna Dooley

First responders in Aurora and Naperville will be better prepared to deal with coordinated terrorist attacks due to a grant of more than $1.3 million over three years awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Illinois Constitution has been in place since 1970, but there's an effort to consider drafting a new one. 

State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, has introduced a plan to hold another constitutional convention. He says there's plenty to talk about -- from the way the state taxes its residents and funds schools to how political district boundaries are drawn.

"Money" by Flickr User 401(K) 2012 / (CC X 2.0)

Next year, Illinois could have one of the most expensive gubernatorial campaigns the country has ever seen.

Among Democrats, recent filings show that J.B. Pritzker spent more than $9 million in the last three months, much of it on media.  The candidate says he plans to spend only his own money on the campaign. By contrast, State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Skokie, raised about $1 million from donors.

Chris Kennedy raised $700,000 and spent almost all of it. Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar raised $139,000.  State Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, raised $66,000.

Carter Staley/NPR Illinois

The new state budget will fund Illinois colleges and universities at the level they received in 2015 — minus 10 percent. But there’s one area of higher education that got a boost.  

The Monetary Award Program, known as MAP, provides grants of up to $4,700 to low-income college students.

The two-year budget impasse caused a break in MAP funding, and affected students spoke out about how this interruption threw their lives into chaos. Lawmakers responded by increasing the amount going to MAP scholarships by 10 percent in the new state budget.

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