Government and Legislature

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Illinois taxpayers are waiting longer than usual for their state income tax refunds. 

Terry Horstman of the Illinois revenue department says the agency is working to fix the problem.

The new state treasurer is in the middle of an extensive review of how the office is managed.

Democrat Mike Frerichs says he brought in “outside eyes” to make sure the office is operating efficiently. 

state of Illinois

One in every 10 Illinois state employees earned more than $100,000 in 2014. That’s according to a published report. 

The employees included judges, prison guards and nurses. The Chicago Sun-Times cites public records, saying 682 workers made more than former Gov. Pat Quinn's six-figure salary.

More than 100 workers doubled their base pay by working overtime or through compensatory time, including more than a dozen workers who got at least $80,000 each in additional pay.

Children of public university employees may see their tuition waivers taken away if an Illinois lawmaker's proposal is approved.

Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, says it costs the schools about $10 million a year to offer half-price tuition to employees’ children.

"I see the state of Illinois pretty much on a lifeboat,” Franks said, “and we're sinking and we can't afford to do everything. I wish we could, but this is not the time that we can continue to have these type of perks."

Brian Mackey/Illinois Public Radio

The newly appointed Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform includes a significant number of members who are well known as advocates for a more rational approach to criminal justice — that is, basing sentencing decisions on what's most likely to rehabilitate an offender while also protecting the public.

America is heading toward the day when whites will no longer make up the majority of the population. And U.S. children will get there soon, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report. The agency also says the overall U.S. population will grow older — and grow more slowly — in coming years.

By around 2020, "more than half of the nation's children are expected to be part of a minority race or ethnic group," the Census Bureau says, putting Americans under the age of 18 at the front of a trend that will see the overall population follow suit some 20 years later.

Prescription-Reform Bill Aims At Heroin Problem

Mar 3, 2015
Amanda Vinicky

Legislation intended to combat a heroin epidemic has been introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators.

Longtime Rockford Police officer Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, says more than 40 people died last year from overdosing in Winnebago County

"The measures in this are going to be a little controversial to some folks,” Cabello said, “but when we realize that lives are more important ... if we are going to look at trying to solve the problem, we need to look at all of the solutions."

Most people don't think of alcohol – especially the kind you consume -- as anything but a liquid.
But the makers of a controversial product called Palcohol, or powdered alcohol, are trying to regain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

It is being opposed from those who say it can be used inappropriately or cause people to consume too much alcohol.

State Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, says that, even though the product is not yet on the market, it still poses a danger. He's sponsoring a measure to ban it in Illinois.

Amanda Vinicky

Just over 50 top state officials came together Wednesday afternoon for their first cabinet meeting with new Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. Journalists were invited to hear the Republican chief executive's opening remarks.

Rauner's Cabinet gathered in one of the capitol's largest, and nicest, committee rooms; members milled about, making small talk and introductions.

Some were recently appointed by the governor and are new to Illinois government; others are holdovers from former Gov. Pat Quinn's administration.

A major credit rating agency has come out with a blunt assessment of Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget for Illinois.

The budget Rauner presented last week calls for massive cuts in state spending -- without any increase in taxes.

Moody's Investor Service dismisses the chance that parts -- let alone all -- of the plan will ever become a reality.