government

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger says she and other officeholders will have to wait for their paychecks just like others in the state during the budget impasse.

Munger says it isn't fair that she, members of the General Assembly and other state officeholders get their paychecks on time during the budget stalemate, while social service organizations and small companies that do business with Illinois must wait.

The failure to pass a budget created a crisis that is now stretching into its tenth month. It left the state nearly 8 billion dollars in debt.

Flickr user Images Money / "Tax" (CC BY 2.0)

All Illinois residents -- no matter how rich, no matter how poor -- pay the same income tax rate. Now a plan is afoot to change that with a constitutional amendment, where the wealthy would pay more.

A pair of Democratic legislators are trying to likewise move Illinois from a flat to a graduated income tax.

Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie says those who are well off need to do more to help the state.

Under his four-tiered plan, anyone making more than a million dollars would pay 9.75 percent, which is more than double today's rate of 3.75 percent.

Landmarks Illinois

Landmarks Illinois says 11 building in the state are in danger of being lost forever because there's no money to make capital improvements. Most of the sites are publicly owned, and local governments are facing the choice of their resources to rehabilitate these buildings or tearing them down.

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois Senate today moved swiftly to approve a spending plan the House passed yesterday.

It authorizes spending nearly 4 billion dollars on higher education and social services -- two areas that have been caught without funding during a prolonged political fight. But Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno says it doesn't mean universities or programs would actually get money. 

Radogno says the state has none to give.

"If you vote for this, you're voting for a hollow promise,” Radogno said. “Let's look at the bills that have funding." 

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

A lack of funding for the Monetary Award Program -- or MAP grants -- have cost Illinois public universities more than $72 million overall.

That's according to data provided by each of the state universities and their campuses.

The Illinois House passed a bill earlier this month that would help fund the MAP grants. That's in light of the state's budget impasse.

The legislation was introduced to the state Senate this week, but public universities that temporarily covered those costs still haven’t been reimbursed.

Chicago Eliminates 'Tampon Tax'

Mar 16, 2016
Flickr user Eric E Castro / "The Tampon Fairy" (CC V 2.0)

The Chicago City Council eliminated a city sales tax on feminine hygiene projects this week.

The vote followed a recommendation by the City Council’s finance committee last week, which was made without opposition.

The items are taxed at 10 and a quarter percent in Chicago.

The vote will remove Chicago’s portion of the tax, which is about 1 and a quarter percent. It will still include state and Cook County sales tax.

As a result of the vote, tampons and sanitary napkins are now characterized as medical necessities so they can be exempted.

Chicago State University had a visit from the Higher Learning Commission this week regarding its accreditation status. That came after the school declared financial crisis about a month ago due to the Illinois state budget impasse.

But how does state funding affect university accreditation?

Higher education officials say taking away accreditation is generally treated as a last resort. But if a school loses its state funding, it could put its status at risk.

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

It’s been 10 months since the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s last attempt at a pension overhaul. Legislators have yet to decide what to do about Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension debt, but they are beginning to weigh their options.

One set of proposals would let employees collect their pension as a single payment when they retire.

Durbin.senate.gov

The senior U.S. Senator from Illinois says the nation is locking up too many people for far too long. He hopes to change that soon.

Democrat Dick Durbin has worked with Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa on the sentencing reform and corrections act.

Durbin says the act would ease mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses that don't involve guns, gangs, or violence. He says he believes the U.S. overreacted with the war on drugs and other "get tough on crime" measures.

state of Illinois

The Illinois House passed legislation Thursday to pay nearly $4 billion for higher education and social services -- but without new revenue to back it up. 

Democrats like House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, a Democrat from Chicago, cast the package as a compromise with Gov. Bruce Rauner. It allows him to avoid repaying money taken from special state funds, a notion Rauner has endorsed.

"It's not the best idea since sliced bread," Currie said, "but it is the governor's idea, and I'm willing to give him the courtesy of a yes vote."

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