According to the NOAA Storm Prediction Center, Illinois ranks fourth in the nation in the number of tornado reports in 2015.

Is this surprising news?

State climatologist Jim Angel says Illinois is usually in the top ten, but this ranking is a bit high compared to previous years at this time.

Northern Illinois experienced and EF-4 in April. That’s out of 64 reports.

Mitsubishi To Phase Out Illinois Plant

Jul 24, 2015

Mitsubishi employees learned Friday morning the Japan-based company is trying to sell its facility in Normal. Tool and die maker Kent Ferguson of Urbana was one of the hundreds of workers gathered to hear company executives make the announcement.

"I don't think anyone ever figured this was a negotiating ploy. I think, the fact that we're not making many cars and that fact that the car we do make is made overseas also, and they're opening plants in southeast Asia and they've really been working toward getting themselves in the Asian market," Ferguson said.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's campaign handed out thousands of dollars in gift cards to people who helped get supporters to the polls during the November election, according to a published report.

The Chicago Tribune reports the use of Visa prepaid cards was an unusual way to reward campaign staff. It's also prompting questions about whether the campaign should have disclosed who got the gift cards and if those people should be considered volunteers or campaign staff.

Hopes for ending the budget stalemate faded even further this week when Gov. Bruce Rauner's office interrupted a news conference called by Senate President John Cullerton.

Cullerton, a Democrat, began by telling reporters that Rauner's budget was unbalanced when it was introduced. But then Cullerton appeared to offer an olive branch, according to Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky. In front of reporters, he asked the Governor to start over on the budget.

Flickr user / Images Money "Healthcare Costs" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration is not yet saying whether it plans to fund Medicaid providers outside Cook County. That question remained after a federal judge ordered the state to pay providers in Cook County while the budget impasse at the Statehouse continues.

A decade-old court order was used as a vehicle to sue state government and force Medicaid payments to Cook County hospitals and doctors.

Democratic Sen. Heather Steans says she hopes Gov. Rauner, a Republican, expands that ruling to Medicaid providers all across the state.

There are a lot of unfamiliar aircraft in the skies over northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin this week. They’re on their way to the annual Experimental Aircraft Association get-together in Oshkosh. 

Tony Molinaro is with the Federal Aviation Administration for the Great Lakes region. He says as many as ten-thousand small planes converge on the small Wisconsin airport.

You’ll see them in the skies much more often. And not just the regular Pipers and regular planes, you know, the Cessnas. You’ll see the aircraft from WWII and all sorts of unusual planes.

Hundreds Of NIU Employees Want To Start New Union

Jul 23, 2015
Northern Illinois University

More than 600 Northern Illinois University employees have signed a petition to join a union.

The workers are teaming up with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME,  to create a union that would help improve  services for the employees.

NIU employee Jennifer Jeffries says wages and services are huge concerns for the workers. But it's the idea of respect that is driving the push for the union.

Rauner Sees Dark Cloud In Latest Employment Report

Jul 23, 2015

The Illinois unemployment rate continues to drop, which would seem to be good news. But Gov. Bruce Rauner sees a dark cloud in that silver lining.

For the past 16 months, the state's unemployment rate has continually declined. The latest figures show numbers falling in every metro area. Statewide, the rate is 5.9 percent.

Good news for the economy, right? Not necessarily, says Rauner.

Small Illinois Town Loses Siren To Twister

Jul 23, 2015
T.J. Carson / WIUM

The small Warren County town of Cameron will need to replace the tool that helped save lives during last week’s tornado.     

The town’s tornado siren was destroyed by the EF-2 twister.

Cameron Fire Department Captain Alan Otten says it’s essential to replace the warning system.

“We have a tornado now, now you’re literally going to have guys driving around in front of the storm here, just having to blast sirens and scream.  And maybe go door-to-door or whatever to tell people to run for cover.”

state of Illinois

The search for a new state Auditor General has begun in earnest. 

The Auditor General serves as Illinois governments' top internal investigator. It's a job that Bill Holland has held for more than two decades.

But last month, he announced he's stepping down.

A bipartisan legislative commission says it's accepting applications for his replacement. At his retirement announcement, Holland gave his view of the desired skills set: