Illinois

DCFS

UPDATE, 11:15 am

A federal judge says Illinois must keep funding child-protection services while the governor and lawmakers haggle over the budget. The ACLU went to court to ask the judge to keep money available for for the Department of Children and Family Services, regardless of the ruling on paychecks for other state employees.

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Two key court hearings are happening in Chicago today that could shape how the Illinois state government shutdown plays out. 

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

State employees can expect to get paychecks through July. That's for work performed before the new fiscal year began.

After that, will they get paid if a budget impasse continues? A court hearing this morning could help decide.

Talk to Illinois' Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, and it sounds simple. Without a budget, Illinois has lost much of its authority to spend money.

"In order for all employees to be paid their full amount of pay, a budget needs to be passed by the legislature and approved by the governor,” Madigan said.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Voters throughout central Illinois will Tuesday winnow down who will replace Aaron Schock in Congress. Schock, a Republican, left his seat in March following a swirl of controversy, and ethical questions.

Shock's resignation forced Illinois to schedule a special election. After a brief campaign, it's time for the primary.

Head of the Democratic Party of Illinois, House Speaker Michael Madigan, says Democrats will be "competitive."

Jim Browne/WGLT

The bison population is growing on a northern Illinois prairie.

The Chicago Tribune reports that, after bison were reintroduced to the Nachusa Grasslands, there are obvious signs that the bison are introducing themselves to each other. Fourteen bison calves were born this past spring at the 3,500 acre grasslands owned by The Nature Conservancy.

The conservancy's website says bison were returned to the area last October. The Tribune says the latest births bring the number of bison in the area to 44.

Wikipedia

A former U.S. congressman has failed to appear at a scheduled arraignment to enter a plea on federal tax charges.  
 

Mel Reynolds' lawyer explained Monday that his client traveled overseas in early June and couldn't return for his arraignment because his daughter fell ill.  
 

Monday's hearing in federal court in Chicago was supposed to be the Democrat's first court appearance since his indictment two weeks ago for allegedly not filing income tax returns for four straight years.  
 

state of Illinois

The new fiscal year began Wednesday, and Illinois has no new spending plan in place. It could be a while before there is one, but Illinois isn't alone.

Across the border in Wisconsin, lawmakers can't reach a spending deal.

Over on the east coast, North Carolina is in budgetary flux. Pennsylvania's negotiations are dragging on, and New Hampshire and Alabama are also facing similar issues.

National Conference of State Legislatures' fiscal analyst Arturo Perez says more states than usual have unfinished budgets.

WNIJ's Gas Price Monday: July 6, 2015

Jul 6, 2015
Carl Nelson/WNIJ

For the most part, gas prices remained the same from last week across the state and country.

According to AAA, the average Rockford area gas price is currently $2.78 per gallon. That's about a nickel more than a month ago and about 90 cents less than a year ago. 

In Chicago, prices are currently at $3.39 per gallon. That's about the same as last week and last month. Current prices are about 75 cents less than prices from a year ago.

Northern Illinois University

A consultant who came to Northern Illinois University still has not returned travel expense payments that he should not have received.

An unnamed consultant from Lopez, Washington, was reimbursed about $32,000 in travel expenses that state auditors called improper in a March report. 

NIU officials have not confirmed the name of the consultant in question, but former NIU consultant Ron Walters has an office in that location. 

NIU Today

Northern Illinois University may not be directly affected by Illinois's lack of a budget -- not yet, at least.

NIU is not planning to take away student perks, but Capital Projects at the university, like construction for the Stevens Building, would be halted. About 100 other Capital Projects would also be affected.

Al Phillips is the NIU Vice President of Finance and Administration. He went to Springfield Wednesday to plead NIU's financial case, along with other representatives from other state schools.

Andrew Epstein / WNIJ

Illinois residents affected by last month's tornados in Lee and Grundy counties will get extra time to file state tax returns. 

Governor Bruce Rauner's office said Wednesday the deadline to file tax returns and make payments will be Dec. 31. He says that will allow residents to recover from the storms and file their returns on time.

Taxpayers who mail their returns and payments should write “Tornado June 2015” in red ink on the outside of the envelope and at the top of each page. Those filing electronically should check the Illinois Department of Revenue website.

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