Brian Mackey

Illinois Democrats and Governor Bruce Rauner remain at a standstill over a new state budget.

Governor Rauner has been pushing for several overhauls including term limits, restrictions on civil lawsuits, and a hold on local property taxes. On Monday, he tweaked a property tax freeze proposal to include increased state funding for struggling schools.

Illinois’s prison watchdog, the John Howard Association, says the new leader of state prisons needs to increase transparency.

But prison reformers who worked with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s pick to lead the agency say openness isn’t John Baldwin's strong suit.

Baldwin led Iowa’s Department of Corrections before he was appointed in Illinois.

Johnie Hammond, a former state lawmaker who served two terms on the Iowa prison board, said she would give Baldwin "mixed reviews" in general but negative reviews on transparency.

Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin provided a fairly blunt reply to the proposition that the War on Drugs failed.

“By some measure, it has failed,” said Durbin, D-Ill. “If the measure is the cost of drugs on the street, it has failed. But when we look at the individual lives saved, there are certainly heroic great stories to be told. But we have to be honest about what works and what doesn’t.”


Northern Illinois University Athletics announced the cannon that would signify a touchdown at home games will no longer be in the stadium starting this season.

But how is the community and student body responding?

NIU will replace the cannon with a hospitality tent on one end zone and a fireworks show on the other...but not everyone is happy about the stadium renovations.

"Mayfly - atalophlebia" by Taken byfir0002 / 20D + Sigma 150mm f/2.8 + Canon MT 24-EX - Own work. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Commons -

Last month, a bridge between Illinois and Iowa had to be closed because it was knee-deep in mayflies. Yes, knee-deep.  Now some Wisconsin researchers are doing everything they can to increase mayfly numbers in parts of their state. 

Rauner Wants Agenda Items Considered As Package

Aug 17, 2015
Brian Mackey

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he wants state legislators to take up a new comprehensive proposal including several of his agenda items as a package, not individually. 

The measure he announced Monday touches on a property tax freeze, local control of collective bargaining, workers compensation reform, school funding and Chicago Public School pension relief, among other proposals.

The Republican told reporters in Chicago the plan was needed to make Illinois more competitive, a theme he pushed throughout the 2014 campaign. 

Only Two Candidates Running So Far In Congress Primary

Aug 17, 2015 / Wikipedia

In what is expected to be one of the country's most competitive campaigns, Democrats are trying to take Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's seat from him.

But first, the primary.

So far, U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth and Chicago Urban League CEO Andrea Zopp have declared they're running for the nomination.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan doubles as chairman of the state Democratic Party. He says the party's fortunate to have such interest, but he's not backing any one candidate yet.

A pair of Rockford Register Star reporters recently investigated local graduation rates and GED completion numbers. The news is mixed.

Reporter Corina Curry recently found the Rockford School District experienced an increase of nearly 10 percentage points in graduation rates among minority students. That’s over the past three years. Last year, Hispanic students in Rockford matched the graduation rate of white students. 

New Illinois Department Of Corrections Head Named

Aug 17, 2015
Radio Iowa

John Baldwin is the new head of Illinois prisons.

Baldwin spent eight years as the head of the Iowa Department of Corrections before retiring in January.

Jean Basinger is the president of prison reform group Iowa CURE. She says she worked with Baldwin in Iowa.

"I certainly hope he can help with your problems in the system but I am concerned because of his lack of experience with such a big system," Basinger said.

There are more than five times as many prisoners in Illinois than in Iowa.

An attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union says he’s hopeful Illinois’ troubled child welfare system will make some big changes.

The ACLU’s Ben Wolf is at the center of an ongoing class action lawsuit over how the Department of Children and Family Services treats kids in its care.

“For children with behavioral and psychological challenges, there just aren’t the services they need, and the result of that is they’re left languishing in correctional centers and shelters and all sorts of places that just aren’t the right place to spend your childhood,” Wolf said.