News

Illinois ranks tenth among all 50 states and Washington, D.C., for the quality of its public school systems, according to a new study.

The state ranked first in the percentage of high school graduates who completed the ACT and second in the average SAT score, personal-finance website WalletHub reported. It also ranked above average – in 23rd place – in the dropout rate.

Illinois was just below average in bullying incidents, placing 26th, and in school safety, ranked at 27th. The statewide pupil-teacher ratio earned a ranking of 30th.

statefairmuseum.org

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s office says the Illinois State Fair will take place next month, with or without a budget.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says the administration gave up the legal power to spend money on the fair. The governor vetoed most of the budget approved by the legislature -- including the funding for the event.

“He had options under the constitution…today, there is no budget and there is no spending authority,” Madigan said. 

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

Illinois state lawmakers are warning key figures in Chicago and Cook County governments to draft back-up plans for their underfunded pensions.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle are both trying to approve changes to the retirement benefits their government workers receive because the funds are running out of money.

But that comes after the state Supreme Court called reductions in benefits to State of Illinois employees’ pensions unconstitutional.

Wheaton College will stop providing any health insurance for students to avoid complying with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. The move announced earlier this month takes effect Friday. It affects about 700 students, a quarter of the college’s student population.

Gov. Bruce Rauner celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act over the weekend by signing five new laws relating to persons with disabilities.

Effective immediately

Illinois is likely to enter August without a full-year budget for Fiscal Year 2016, which began July 1. The longer the impasse continues, the more the impact will be felt. 

Most Illinois residents may be busy with their summer and less focused on the state budget, since schools are expected to open on time. State workers also are getting paid.

Republican State Rep. Tim Butler says the ongoing fiscal fight will boil over in more ways:

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / "Money" (CC v. 2.0)

Minnesota will surpass Illinois, Michigan and South Dakota this week with the highest minimum wage in the Midwest.

The $9-per-hour wage taking effect Saturday is the second of a three-stage increase adopted last year. Next year, the wage will rise fifty cents and go up automatically with inflation in following years.

For now, this step gives The Gopher State the highest minimum wage of any state away from both coasts. The next closest wage in the region is South Dakota's $8.50 per hour, which is higher than Illinois's at $8.25.

WUIS

Illinois may not be done with the 2013 law reducing state employees’ pensions after all. Attorney General Lisa Madigan appears to be readying an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many thought the question of whether Illinois could save money by reducing state workers’ and retirees’ pensions was resolved in May, when the state’s Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled the answer is “no.”

Governor, Union Conflicted Over Contract

Jul 27, 2015
WUIS

Governor Bruce Rauner's administration and the state's largest public employee union remain at odds on a new contract.

The two sides appear to still be far apart. A memo from the union known as AFSCME became public last week. It laid out several demands from the administration, including no pay increases and cuts to worker's benefits. The memo theorized the Governor was pushing for a strike or a lockout, which Rauner's camp has refuted.

Tim Butler is a Republican State Representative from Springfield, whose district includes a lot of state employees. 

Illinois Prisons Still Overcrowded Despite Prisoner Decrease

Jul 27, 2015
Flickr user miss_millions / " Prison cells" (CC v 2.0)

New state data show that the number of people incarcerated in Illinois prisons has fallen in recent years but facilities still remain overcrowded.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports that the most recent report on Illinois Department of Corrections facilities shows the agency held 47,483 inmates in May 2015. That's the lowest since May 2010 when the department reported 47,150 inmates behind bars.

The peak was in January 2013 with 49,321 inmates.

The state prison system's facilities are designed to house 32,000 prisoners.

Pages