Illinois

Rauner Pushes AFSCME To Make Decision On Negotiations

Feb 12, 2016
afscme.org

Illinois lawmakers are once again considering an intervention in state labor negotiations.

Contract talks have stalled between Illinois' biggest government labor union -- AFSCME -- and Governor Bruce Rauner.

Rauner wants the state Labor Relations Board to decide whether negotiations are at an impasse; the union says that’s premature.

Under legislation approved by a House committee yesterday, such failed negotiations would be resolved by an arbitrator on whom both sides agree.

AFSCME says it’s willing to give up its right to strike to get that change.

"Exams Start... Now" by Flickr User Ryan McGilchrist / (CC BY 2.0)

A new college entrance exam is coming to Illinois. The test known as the SAT is replacing the ACT.

The Illinois State Board of Education announced Thursday it will begin negotiating a contract with the College Board, which administers the SAT.

The announcement comes after a protest filed by ACT was denied.

The state's contract with ACT expired last year.

College Board spokesman Zach Goldberg says the SAT focuses “on the few things that evidence shows matter most for college and career readiness.''

Brian Mackey

A group that wants an independent panel to draw Illinois' legislative districts claims support from President Barack Obama.

Obama said politicians should not get to pick their voters in his Springfield speech this week.

He was speaking about federal elections, but the group Independent Maps says this rationale applies to the states.

Obama says politicians' enthusiasm for the idea often depends on whether their party has control of district boundaries.

illinois.gov

The head of Illinois' child welfare agency says the 2014 shooting death of a black teenager by a white police officer has spurred more focus in how the agency handles cases of troubled youths.

Department of Children and Family Services Director George Sheldon says since police footage was released in November, agency workers have gone through thousands of pages of documents relating to Laquan McDonald, who was a state ward for most of his 17 years.

Sheldon says the agency has changed how workers review cases like McDonald's.

foresight.com

Some central Illinois residents are asking state regulators to reject a proposed expansion of a coal mine where an underground fire has smoldered for nearly a year.

Opponents of Foresight Energy's planned Deer Run Mine expansion testified at a Thursday public hearing in Hillsboro that the company's inability to quell the ongoing fire should lead the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to reject the request.

Foresight ceased mine production in early January in part because of the elevated carbon monoxide levels below ground.

Flickr user Brent Hoard "ECU School of Education Class Room" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois State Board of Education is analyzing a proposal to transform the state’s school funding formula.

At the board’s meeting yesterday, Superintendent Tony Smith called the current formula “fundamentally flawed,” but acknowledged that changing it would be difficult.

"I mean, there’s some significant issues in the state about what you can touch and what you can’t, and so I think it will be interesting to see how that bill does get considered, because it’s also very political, as we know,” Smith said.

The state’s formula now relies heavily on property taxes.

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

A Chicago-based research group says cleaning up Illinois' budget mess will require difficult decisions such as raising the income tax, slashing spending and imposing taxes on food, services and some retirement income.

In an analysis released Thursday, the Civic Federation's Institute for Illinois' Fiscal Sustainability says the state budget stalemate has only exacerbated Illinois' enormous financial problems.

Civic Federation President Laurence Msall says “there are no more politically popular solutions left.''

Mayor.cityofchicago.org

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a former investigator for Chicago's Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates police shootings.

Lorenzo Davis alleged he lost his job because he determined several police shootings were unjustified. He argued his free speech rights were violated.

The lawsuit gained attention after the release of a video showing a white police officer fatally shooting Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old.

"Blogging?" by Flickr User Anonymous Account / (CC BY 2.0)

An Illinois lawmaker wants to criminalize recording fights in order to post them online.

Rep. Terri Bryant says she was disturbed by a video of an altercation between two boys from her hometown of Murphysboro that was posted to Facebook. The Republican lawmaker says she wants to show that staging fights or being a willing bystander is unacceptable.

cps.edu

Chicago Public Schools have slashed millions of dollars from school budgets, forcing principals to refigure their plans with the second semester just underway.

The principals received news of the $85 million cut on Tuesday as the school district faces a $1.1 billion budget deficit, no income from the state of Illinois and no contract with the Chicago Teachers Union.

In a written statement, schools CEO Forest Claypool the steps taken were necessary because the district's cash position "becomes tighter every day."

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