Illinois

The Two-Year Illinois Budget Impasse Is Over

Jul 6, 2017
Jenna Dooley

The Illinois House has voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's vetoes of a budget package. The action Thursday gives Illinois its first annual spending plan since 2015. 

The House voted to override the Republican governor's veto of a $5 billion increase in income taxes and a $36 billion spending plan. 

The veto overrides mean the nation's longest state budget crisis since at least the Great Depression has ended. The budget is retroactive to July 1 _ the start of the fiscal year. That's also the date that the 32 percent increase in the personal income tax rate takes effect. 

The defense attorney for a man accused of kidnapping a University of Illinois scholar from China says his client deserves the "presumption of innocence."

Tom Bruno represents 28-year-old Brendt Christensen, who is accused of kidnapping 26-year-old Yingying Zhang and is jailed pending trial. Authorities believe she's dead, although her body hasn't been found. Christensen was arrested Friday.

Bruno said Thursday that he doesn't think "a negative inference" can be made from prosecutors' statements that Christensen marched in a vigil for Zhang a day before he was arrested.

Phil Masterton / WNIJ

Two key Republicans in the Illinois House say they will continue supporting an income-tax increase over their governor's veto.

Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights and Rep. Steven Andersson of Geneva were among 15 Republicans who bucked Gov. Bruce Rauner and helped provide a veto-proof majority for an income-tax increase of 1.2 cents per dollar. The hike is intended to help Illinois dig out of the nation's longest budget crisis since at least the Great Depression.

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

More than a dozen school superintendents gathered in the statehouse today to thank lawmakers who went out on a limb to raise taxes and send more money to schools.

That gratitude was also their way of nudging lawmakers not to change their votes Thursday, when the House of Representatives will try to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget veto.

Jeff Craig, superintendent of Aurora West schools, admonished lawmakers with something a teacher might tell students about their classroom or playground.

Officials Still Investigating Two Major Rockford Fires

Jul 4, 2017
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The Rockford Fire Department is still investigating the origin of two recent building fires.

A 7th Street structure caught fire Sunday, one week after a fire at the historic Hanley building, which was being demolished with the hopes of completing the task in time for the Rockford Fourth of July celebration. That deadline won't be met, but demolition has been moving quickly.

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