The University of Illinois Flash Index fell in February from the month before.
Economist Fred Giertz says the unusually harsh February weather may have been a negative factor for the index, which is a weighted average of Illinois growth rates in corporate earnings, consumer spending and personal income.
The analysis of the State of Illinois’ fiscal condition comes before the release of Governor Pat Quinn's annual budget recommendation.
The report reviews Quinn’s three-year budget projection and proposes its own five-year plan. The Civic Federation’s proposal would pay down the state’s $5.4 billion backlog of unpaid bills while gradually reducing income tax rates by 20%.
Among the ideas, the report calls for taxing pension and social security income.
Rockford Public Library officials are trying to decide how to work around a major environmental clean-up at the downtown branch.
Before it was Rockford's main library, the land was part of a gas plant. Coal tar was stored underground. Over time, it seeped into the soil. ComEd is in charge of contamination removal. Rockford Public Library Executive Director Frank Novak says the cost of clean-up is still unknown, but library officials are in the process of interviewing architects on how to operate during remediation.
Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker is restructuring additional university positions. Vice President Bill Nicklas will now be responsible for operations and community relations.
Vice President Administration Human Resources Steve Cunningham will devote his full attention over the next few months to sorting through pension issues on behalf of the university to clarify the "new retirement landscape." Cunningham has expressed interest in pursuing other employment opportunities when that work is completed.
Work on the expansion project is expected to begin as early as May 19. Architects provided an update to library officials this week. Library Director Dee Coover estimates the construction will last 18 months. The library is expected to remain open during the work, but she says patrons will begin noticing covered walkways around the entrance to the children's department.
She says workers will start moving materials in May, with "true" construction in mid-July.
Seven local bridges crossing over the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) in Boone, McHenry and Kane counties are scheduled to close in March for removal and reconstruction as part of the Illinois Tollway’s I-90 Rebuilding and Widening Project. Another will close later in the spring. It's expected the bridges will remain closed into the fall.
There are 90 aging coal ash pits in Illinois — piles of slag left behind when coal is burned for energy, most often electricity. Coal ash residue is starting to show up in the water supply.
Groups like the Sierra Club of Illinois and the Prairie Rivers Network have joined forces, lobbying Illinois government for accountability for energy suppliers. One of those energy suppliers is Dynegy, which has several plants in Illinois. For Urbana resident Eileen Borgia, the plant and its coal ash pit is an unwelcome presence on her nature excursions near Kickapoo State Park.