St. Louis Public Radio

In a rare Sunday session, the U.S. Senate gave overwhelming approval to a plan to re-authorize the charter of the Export-Import Bank, as part of its six-year highway bill.  The bank’s charter expired in June.  All four U.S. senators from Illinois and Missouri voted for the plan, backed by Democrats and mainstream Republicans.

Tea Party Republicans have long opposed the bank, calling it “corporate welfare” for big business. Supporters disagree and say the bank helps businesses of all sizes.

Americans With Disabilities Act Celebrates 25th Year

Jul 27, 2015

This week is the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Lisa Seymour is the DeKalb County manager for RAMP. It's an agency that helps people with disabilities live independently and get jobs. 

"I think there has been much progress due to the ADA for individuals with disabilities, but there is still much progress that needs to be made," Seymour said.

Before the act, there was little protection for those with disabilities. They ran the risk of being discriminated against if their disabilities were physically apparent.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's campaign handed out thousands of dollars in gift cards to people who helped get supporters to the polls during the November election, according to a published report.

The Chicago Tribune reports the use of Visa prepaid cards was an unusual way to reward campaign staff. It's also prompting questions about whether the campaign should have disclosed who got the gift cards and if those people should be considered volunteers or campaign staff.

Hopes for ending the budget stalemate faded even further this week when Gov. Bruce Rauner's office interrupted a news conference called by Senate President John Cullerton.

Cullerton, a Democrat, began by telling reporters that Rauner's budget was unbalanced when it was introduced. But then Cullerton appeared to offer an olive branch, according to Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky. In front of reporters, he asked the Governor to start over on the budget.

Flickr user / Images Money "Healthcare Costs" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration is not yet saying whether it plans to fund Medicaid providers outside Cook County. That question remained after a federal judge ordered the state to pay providers in Cook County while the budget impasse at the Statehouse continues.

A decade-old court order was used as a vehicle to sue state government and force Medicaid payments to Cook County hospitals and doctors.

Democratic Sen. Heather Steans says she hopes Gov. Rauner, a Republican, expands that ruling to Medicaid providers all across the state.

state of Illinois

The search for a new state Auditor General has begun in earnest. 

The Auditor General serves as Illinois governments' top internal investigator. It's a job that Bill Holland has held for more than two decades.

But last month, he announced he's stepping down.

A bipartisan legislative commission says it's accepting applications for his replacement. At his retirement announcement, Holland gave his view of the desired skills set:


Coal City residents are still rebuilding and cleaning up one month after powerful storms and tornadoes ripped through the small village about an hour south of Chicago.

Glenn Root says the tarps on his roof aren’t enough to keep the damage at bay.

“You know a little hole coming through the top of the ceiling roof is just expanding and expanding every time it rains,” Root said. “And we got so much rain the last three weeks that it’s just messing up my kitchen walls more.”

Ed Essary lost the house he lived in for 39 years.

T.J. Carson / WIUM

The National Weather Service believes the tornado that struck Cameron July 16 was EF-2 storm with wind speeds of around 125 miles per hour.

Donna Dubberke, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, said the agency looked at what was damaged during the storm. She said that includes buildings, tree, and power lines.

“The most compelling evidence there [in Cameron] is there were several homes, not many, but several homes that did have the roofs almost completely removed, and that, depending on the construction, is consistent with winds in the 110 to 130 mph range,” Dubberke said.

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Accusations continue to swirl at the statehouse over who is at fault for the budget impasse. Gov. Bruce Rauner says House Speaker Madigan is the problem. 

Rauner, a Republican, accuses Madigan of wanting a government shutdown.

"I think the Speaker wants pressure, wants an impact now, before he'll do the right thing,” Rauner said. “He knows what should happen. Many members of his caucus know we should compromise and work this out. But they want an impact, they want people hit by these lack of a budget before they'll take action."

Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois' $36 billion budget remains in limbo. Meanwhile, the state's top political leaders have been focusing on a much smaller number -- roughly $250,000 in spending.

That's how much Illinois is set to spend this year paying legislators a raise.

Republicans and Democrats both say the focus over pay is a distraction, while at the same time denouncing each other for enabling excessive salaries.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has consistently used his bully pulpit to try to pin Illinois' problems on the Democratic Speaker of the Illinois House.