Emerald Ash Borer
5:55 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Rockford Ramps Up Ash Tree Removal

Credit city of Rockford

Beginning the week of June 9,  Rockford's Public Works Forestry Division will begin an aggressive removal program of city owned ash trees; targeting trees with 50% or more of their leaf canopy showing signs of distress. According to a news release, the program is a response to the Emerald Ash Borer.

The Forestry Division treated approximately 10% of the city owned ash tree population, the remaining 7,000 ash trees will eventually all be removed.

In the short term, the areas most affected that will be targeted for removals this summer are:

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Illinois Finances
5:43 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Rating Agency Criticizes Illinois Budget

Credit Brian Mackey / WUIS

The credit rating agency Moody's says Illinois is at risk of undermining progress toward better finances. It says the failure to extend current income tax rates could lead to a worsening deficit. 

Moody's says because lawmakers failed to stop an automatic tax cut scheduled for the end of the year, Illinois could have to increase its backlog of unpaid bills. The state already has the lowest credit rating in the nation.

Republicans say this shows Illinois needs to further reduce costs, but Democratic Senate President John Cullerton says there isn't that much left to cut.

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5:34 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Quinn Still Pushing Tax Extension, Mum On Chicago Retirement Benefits

Credit state of Illinois

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is continuing to make his case for keeping the state income tax rate at its current five percent.

He didn’t get any help from Democratic lawmakers who passed a budget without taking up Quinn’s tax plan.

The income tax is scheduled to drop next year. Quinn says will result in cuts to things like education and social service programs.

The governor says if he wins re-election in November, legislators might listen to voters and take up his tax plan.

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2014 Summer Book Series
9:12 am
Tue June 3, 2014

2nd Big Award For Summer Book Series Author

Barrie Jean Borich, author of Body Geographic.
Credit Dan Klefstad

First an IPPY, now a LAMMY.

Barrie Jean Borich was honored last night in New York City at the 26th annual Lambda Book Awards for her creative memoir, Body Geographic.

Borich's book is featured in WNIJ's Summer Book Series, which airs Friday mornings this month.

Of last night's award, Borich tells WNIJ:

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6:30 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Couples Line Up As Gay Marriage Law Rolls Out

Credit Mike Moen/WNIJ

The wait is over for same-sex couples in Illinois to marry. A new state law allowing such marriages went into effect over the weekend. That prompted many couples to line-up at their local county clerk's office on Monday.

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6:15 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Rockford Issues Credits For Residents Who Ran Water This Winter

Credit Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

The City of Rockford will issue $17,216 in credits to 277 water customers for running their water to keep pipes from freezing last winter. According to a news release, Public Works Director Timothy Hanson says the credits will appear on water customers’ June bill. A letter will be sent to those who applied for a credit prior to the June water bill explaining how the credit was calculated.  

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6:14 am
Tue June 3, 2014

More Money Available To Buy Produce For WIC Participants

Credit Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

The Illinois Department of Human Services says children in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) will receive an increase in the amount allocated for fruits and vegetables.  Children will receive an additional $2 per month – from $6 to $8 – to redeem for any WIC eligible fruits and vegetables.

According to a news release, the program serves more than 140,000 children statewide.

To learn more about the WIC program or to see if you may qualify, please visit  www.fns.usda.gov/wic

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Illinois Elections
4:57 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Term Limits Measure Could Make It On November Ballot

Credit Illinois Board of Elections

A group trying to impose term limits on state legislators says it gathered enough valid signatures to get on the November ballot. State elections officials spent days vetting thousands of petitions.

The group, calling itself Term Limits and Reform, gathered almost 6,000 signatures -- nearly twice the number needed to get on the ballot.

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6:18 am
Mon June 2, 2014

Lawmaker Bothered By Interfund Borrowing

Senator Dale Righter
Credit ilga.gov

Democrats wanted to use the higher income tax rate to prop up the state budget. Instead, they turned to "interfund borrowing" which involves taking funds from hundreds of small pools of money earmarked for specific purposes.

Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) doesn't support the idea.

"I'm concerned about how you're raising the money for those funds and whether or not you're spending the money from those funds the way you told the taxpayers or the contributors to that fund that you would spend it."

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Same-Sex Marriage
6:01 am
Mon June 2, 2014

Early Same-Sex Marriages Offer First Tests Of New State Law

Signs at a civil unions rally in Sycamore, IL
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Same-sex couples in Illinois are now able to get marriage licenses. Federal court rulings late last year allowed some couples in several counties to get married early - if one person in the relationship was terminally ill. 

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