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Illinois
5:49 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Attorneys for IL Rep. Want Comments Left Out Of Trial

Rep. Derrick Smith
Credit ilga.gov

FBI agents say an Illinois State Representative admitted wrongdoing when they arrested him.

Federal prosecutors charged State Representative Derrick Smith with taking a $7,000 bribe.

FBI agents say after they arrested him in 2012 - Smith told them he was “going crazy” about a primary challenger - and was hard up for campaign cash to pay workers.

They say he repeatedly told agents he “effed up” - and regret taking the money.

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Illinois
4:48 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Business Groups Call For More Early Education Funding

Credit flickr user / nathanmac87 (CC BY 2.0)

As Illinois navigated the economic downturn, lawmakers made lots of cuts -- including to early childhood education.  Advocates say over the years, that cut off 25,000 kids from access to preschool.

Business leaders say it's time to restore the funding, in the name of economic efficacy later on.

Brad Billings, CEO of Quincy-based Blessing Health System, says the workforce of the future will need more technical skills, and says that begins before kindergarten.

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Illinois
6:39 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Future Plans Go Off The Tracks In Genoa

The previous Amtrak map for northwest Illinois

Several northern Illinois cities are eager for the return of passenger rail service across parts of the region. But one community is still absorbing the shock of being left out of the planned route.

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Senate Bill 16
6:23 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Who Benefits When The School Funding Formula Is Re-Crunched?

Freshman State Senators Andy Manar and Steve Stadelman meet with superintendents from public schools in Winnebago and Boone counties at The Regional Superintendent's office in Loves Park.
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

School superintendents in Illinois are getting a chance to weigh in on what could be a huge change in the state’s public school funding formula. 

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Politics
8:27 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Illinois Senate Gets Behind Convention Movement

State Senator William Delgado

The Illinois Senate has joined a push for a national constitutional convention. Organizers say they want to change the way political campaigns are financed.

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Illinois
6:27 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Municipal Aggregation Losing Its Spark

Credit Citizens Utility Board

A consumer group says the market for alternative electricity suppliers in Illinois is changing.

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Anniversary Concert
2:45 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

NIU Steel Band Marks 40 Years Of Growth

NIU Steel Band co-directors Cliff Alexis, left, and Liam Teague have worked together since Teague arrived as an NIU student.
Yuko Asada

From its beginnings as a small band -- without even a lead instrument -- in a corner of the NIU Percussion Studio, the NIU Steel Band has a lot to celebrate from the past 40 years.

The celebration culminates in the band’s 40th anniversary concert Sunday, April 13, in the Boutell Concert Hall of the NIU Music Building.

Steel band co-director Liam Teague said the concert program will reflect the spirit of the band throughout its existence. “It highlights what we’re trying to do in the steel band,” he said. “We’re looking at the past, present and future.”

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Education
6:33 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Educators Prepare For Wide Funding Swing In State Budget

Credit Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

Budget battles will soon get underway in Springfield. Several possible scenarios could play out under Illinois’ next spending plan. That includes deciding what to do with the expiring income-tax hike. The situation is leaving educators with more uncertainty than usual.

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New Route and funding announced
4:51 am
Fri April 11, 2014

All Aboard? Rockford To Chicago Train On Track For Next Year

Governor Pat Quinn and Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey congratulate each other over progress toward passenger rail service for Rockford. 4/10/14
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Rockford residents can look forward to taking a train into Chicago next year, after three decades without passenger rail service. 

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Education
4:51 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Republicans Criticize "Rushed" School Funding Overhaul

Credit state of Illinois

A proposal to overhaul the way Illinois schools get state funding is advancing in the state Senate. Republicans say the plan is being rushed through the General Assembly, and they are worried that Chicago schools will get an even bigger share of the money than they do now.

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, has made it his mission to change the way schools are funded in Illinois. The freshman senator says it's long overdue because there's been no change in 17 years.

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