Illinois

cps.edu

Chicago Public Schools has sold $725 million in tax-exempt bonds it says will help get the district through the rest of the school year.

Because the district has received a low credit rating, it must pay an 8.5 percent interest rate on most of the bonds sold yesterday.

Officials say the sale raised less than the $875 million the district wanted.

The district is rated three levels below junk status by all three major rating agencies.

Recent financial documents have revealed the district had barely enough cash to make it through the year.

"Metra" By Flickr User Chris Phan / (CC BY 2.0)

The Metra Railroad says it will miss its 2018 deadline to install safety technology on all of its Chicago-area routes.

Metra says the cost of its upgrade – which could reach $400 million – is one factor in the delay.

Congress’ technology mandate included almost no funding nationwide for these kinds of projects.

The technology known as Positive Train Control can monitor train positions and automatically slow or stop trains that are in danger.

Metra outlined a plan to satisfy certain criteria for the government if an extension is granted through 2020.

Flickr user / Milica Sekulic "Mobile Phone" (CC BY 2.0)

A new Illinois law requires certain businesses post a human trafficking hotline number in their establishment.

       

It's designed to increase the awareness of resources to help victims.

Carol Merna is the executive director of the Center for the Prevention of Abuse, located in Peoria.

She says Illinois is a "hot spot" for human trafficking. Many victims of what has been called “modern-day slavery” are U.S. citizens.

Jenna Dooley

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger says the income tax rate in Illinois would need to double from its current rate to combat growing debt. She says Illinois is on pace to spend an additional $6.2 billion dollars more than it brings in.

Last year, the income tax rate dropped in Illinois – from 5 percent to 3.75 percent. Speaking in Rockford, Munger says the tax rate would need to be in the range of 7 to 8 percent.

Judge Rejects Topless Activist's Free-Speech Argument

Feb 3, 2016
"Courtroom One Gavel" by Flickr User Beth Cortez-Neavel / (CC BY 2.0)

A federal judge rejected a "GoTopless Day'' activist of her core argument against a Chicago ordinance barring women from baring their chests in public.

Sonoko Tagami sued after police ticketed her in 2014 for violating the ordinance during an annual protest of such bans nationwide.

The protest was organized by the Las Vegas-based group GoTopless. The ticket cost Tagami $150. 

Tagami's lawsuit argues Chicago's ban infringes on her free-speech and other rights.

But the judge in Chicago rejected that in a Tuesday ruling.

heartlandalliance.org

A nonprofit research group says poverty rates in Illinois are up to three times higher for racial minorities.

The Chicago-based Heartland Alliance's research arm released a report outlining significant racial disparities for income, unemployment, birth rates and housing, among other things.

The 44-page document is called “Racism's Toll: Report on Illinois Poverty,'' and looks at institutional racism in the state.

The report says unemployment rates are 1.4 to 2.4 times higher for minorities than for whites.

CPS

Chicago school officials say they're ready to cut $100 million from school budgets and force teachers to pay more pension costs after the teachers' union rejected the latest offer in contentious contract negotiations that have lasted over a year.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said yesterday the union's rejection was “disheartening'' and cost-cutting efforts were necessary without a deal.

He says bargaining continues.

The district faces a $1 billion shortfall and recently laid off hundreds of central office employees.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

There is increased attention on water quality across the nation as a result of elevated levels of lead in Flint, Michigan.

For the past several years, the unincorporated community of Wedron, in LaSalle County, has been dealing with its own water woes.

EPA: Wedron Groundwater Contamination Site

League of Women Voters

A Democratic presidential candidate and two Republicans will stay on the Illinois ballot.

    

The State Board of Elections dismissed an objection to the candidacy of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The board ruled Republican U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz can also stay on the ballot.

Two Illinois residents raised questions about the legality of Cruz and Rubio running for president. 

One of the objectors is William Graham of Glen Ellyn. He says the senators are U.S. citizens, but they are not natural-born citizens under the law.

CTU.NET

The Chicago Teachers Union says it has rejected a contract proposal because it does not address school conditions, lack of services to some students and the long-term fiscal crisis that the nation's third-largest school district faces.

CTU said in a news release yesterday that it rejected what it called last week a “serious offer.''

According to the union, the offer would have required teachers to pick up their pension costs and increase contributions to their health care coverage.

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