While Illinois has been operating without a budget, community colleges have stayed open. But some say without state funding, they can’t hold out much longer.

Public universities have been tapping their reserves to get by. But community colleges typically don’t have deep cushions. 

While a large chunk of their funding comes from local property taxes, Tom Ramage, president of Parkland College, says these smaller institutions can’t survive without state dollars.

Toys for Tots Foundation

DeKalb County residents have until Tuesday to request toys for Christmas through Toys for Tots. But you may have more time still, depending on where you live.

If you’re in Rockford, you have until Friday, and Whiteside County honors applications as late as Dec. 19.

Richard Rajnowski heads the Whiteside County Toys for Tots. He says his section doesn’t ask for wages or medical cards, but the need is apparent for those who request toys in his area.

“We just … kinda hold everybody to their honor,” Rajnowski said.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner pledged to save taxpayers money by eliminating some of the state's nearly 7,000 units of government.

Now, a task force is preparing its final recommendations.

Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti is the commission's chairwoman. She says its suggestions could make government more efficient and effective if the Legislature and Rauner choose to implement them.

The suggestions include letting voters decide whether a unit of government should be eliminated.

“At the end of the day, the savings are going to be huge,” Sanguinetti said.

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / "Money" (CC v. 2.0)

A group of human service providers wants Illinois lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner to pass a budget for the current fiscal year and next fiscal year. That’s after it appears the state will go more than half of this fiscal year without one.

Judith Gethner is with Illinois Partners for Human Services. She says they want both to happen in January, so providers can prepare for cuts that are likely to come.

University of Illinois

Illinois public universities are using their reserves to survive while Illinois operates without a budget. But University of Illinois president Tim Killeen says burning through savings at a rate of $76 million per month is not sustainable. 

“It is time to fix this,” Killeen said. “My expectation is that there will be a good outcome or a reasonable outcome in the January/February time frame, at which time we will pick up the ball and run and University of Illinois will go from strength to strength, I assure you of that.” 

Flickr: West Midlands Police / Photo cropped from original

Chicago is expanding a program to provide body cameras to police officers.

The announcement Sunday from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office follows the release last week of a squad-car video showing an officer fatally shooting teenager Laquan McDonald. The officer wasn't wearing a body camera.

The city will expand the program into six more police districts next year. Emanuel says in a statement that the expansion into one-third of the city will “strengthen the fabric of trust” between officers and residents.

WNIJ’s Gas Price Monday: Nov. 30, 2015

11 hours ago
Carl Nelson/WNIJ

Gas prices in some Illinois communities are below $2 per gallon of unleaded.

According to AAA, a gallon of regular gas in the Rockford area costs $1.95 on average. That’s seven cents less than last week and almost a dollar less than last year.

Chicago prices are at $2.30 per gallon. That's a dime less than a week ago and almost a dollar less than a year ago.

This Year’s Holiday Shopping Expected To Increase

Nov 27, 2015
Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

A national retail group says sales are expected to increase nearly four percent over last year's holiday shopping.

While the expected 3.7 percent increase is in line with the five year shopping average, there is a difference. 

A National Retail Federation report saying almost half of those sales will be on line...and 20 percent of shoppers will use their smart phone to make a purchase. That means solid hiring for the season at companies like Amazon and shipping firms like Fed EX and UPS.

Flickr user Brandon Blahnik / "House" (CC V 2.0)

Home prices are on the rise in Illinois.

The statewide median price of a home was up over 6 percent in October to 168-thousand dollars. But overall sales were down amid tighter inventory. 

The number of homes listed was down 10 percent compared to the same time last year.   

That means it's a good time to be a seller.  Homes are staying on the market fewer days … 68 now compared to 74 a year ago.

While the holidays tend to always see a decline in homes being offered, the state's realtors say the drop off in October was especially steep.

Flickr user Loren Kerns / "100/36: November PDX leaves" (CC V. 2.0)

It’s another sign of winter: the end of leaf pickup along with the regular garbage pickup – at least in one northern Illinois city.

Monday through Thursday will be the last days of 2015 that residents can put bundled branches or bagged leaves out with the regular garbage in Rockford.

Rockford officials note that yard waste will be taken only if it’s in compostable paper bags or in garbage cans clearly marked with a large X – and weighing less than 50 pounds.