Illinois

Lisa Ryan

Lawmakers are looking to work around Governor Bruce Rauner’s plan to close the Illinois State Museum and related sites.

The Illinois Senate approved a measure Tuesday that would require the state to operate a museum and keep it open to the public. That comes after museum workers already receiving layoff notices.

Some Republicans, like Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, pushed back.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

Non-profit groups say the ongoing fight over the state budget could lead to tragic consequences for thousands of Illinoisans.

The agencies have state contracts for everything from taking care of people with disabilities to placing children in foster care. But the partisan fight over state spending means they're not being paid.

Al Riddley, on the board of the Illinois Partners for Human Service, says the groups are being led on a "death march."

"Perhaps it's time to change our state motto from 'Land of Lincoln' to 'We Don't Care,'" Riddley says.

Senate Passes Property Tax Freeze, School Funding Redo

Aug 5, 2015
Amanda Vinicky / WUIS

Local property taxes would be frozen for two years under a measure approved Tuesday by the Illinois Senate. That's on Gov. Bruce Rauner's wish-list, but Republicans are still against the plan.

After a failed attempt last month, Democratic Senate President John Cullerton shepherded his proposal through.

How much money local governments could ask taxpayers for would be stuck for a couple years -- something Rauner, a Republican, insists happen before he'll negotiate with Democrats on the budget.

Cullerton characterizes the effort as a sort of olive branch.

Amanda Vinicky

The governor and Democratic legislators yesterday came to a budget agreement, but only a minor one. A broader stalemate continues.

Anything to do with state spending this year has pretty much been split down party lines. Democrats passed a spending plan, Republican Gov. Bruce Raunervetoed almost all of it.

That's what has Illinois into its second month without a budget.

Then there was a thaw yesterday. Senators from both parties voted to spend $5 billion of federal money -- the state just serves as a pass through.

Flickr user Pictures of Money / "Money" (CC BY 2.0)

More than a third of Illinois human service agencies are already cutting back while the state is without a budget.

United Way of Illinois says more than 130 agencies reported cutting services, and slightly more are using cash reserves to continue operating.

Most of them say they'll deplete their reserves in about three months. About 80 say they’ll run out of money by the end of this month.

Rauner Issues State Disaster Proclamation For 23 Counties

Aug 4, 2015

Gov. Bruce Rauner has issued a state disaster proclamation for 23 counties devastated by severe storms this summer and has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help assess the damages there.

Rauner on Monday said a series of storms in June and July caused heavy rainfall, flash and river flooding, tornadoes and straight-line winds in the 23 counties stretching from Alexander County on the Ohio River to Grundy County in north central Illinois.

A panel of lawmakers will weigh in Wednesday on the planned closure of two state facilities. But the final decision rests with the governor. 

Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed closing the state museum in Springfield and the Hardin County Work Camp to save money.  But many disagree, including central Illinois state Senator Andy Manar.

"I think the governor is correct in pointing out that operating a museum and preserving history comes at a cost.  But I, like thousands of others across the state, believe the cost is worth it," Manar said.

A Chicago alderman has proposed a penny-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks in that city.  There is also an effort to make that happen statewide.

Elissa Bassler says this idea can both bring in revenue and improve health.  She's the CEO of the Illinois Public Health Institute and head of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity.

The definition of sugary drink would of course include soda.  But also juice and even teas and coffees that have sugar added. 

Clean Power Plan Could Benefit Illinois

Aug 4, 2015

President Obama's new Clean Power Plan could mean good things for Illinois - both environmentally and economically.

The Clean Power Plan will mean dramatic changes to how Illinois coal is used for power production, but Susan Casey-Lefkowitz with the Natural Resources Defense Council says energy trading and collaboration will help ease the transition to more renewable resources.

"Some of this is going to happen with trading between states, and we fully expect states in a region to look across the whole region to try to have their targets be met," Casey-Lefkowitz said.

University of Illinois / illinois.edu

An outside investigation of women’s basketball at the University of Illinois’s Urbana campus has found no evidence to support claims of abuse or racism by former players.

And athletic director Mike Thomas and Urbana Chancellor Phyllis Wise say there will be no personnel changes after seeing the findings by the Chicago law firm hired by the university to conduct the investigation. But they do expect other changes within U of I women’s basketball and other sports, and some of those were in the works before the lawsuit surfaced.

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