Members of Illinois's House Government Administration Committee hoped to grill Superintendent Tony Smith about expensive perks he gets on top of his $225,000 salary. But the invitation was declined by Board Chair James Meeks, who sent a letter to the committee saying he wanted to discuss the request with the school board. 

A day later at the state board’s meeting, Smith referred reporters to Meeks for an answer of why they didn’t show up.

"So the conversation to have with the chairman, about the choices, like how we're responding? You can ask him," Smith said.


Officials of a northern Illinois school district say controversial bleachers built in violation of local zoning laws will be coming down this month.

Homeowners who live near the Crystal Lake South High School football field sued Community High School District 155 after 55-foot-tall bleachers were built two years ago. They claimed the bleachers were erected without proper permits from the city, were too close to property lines and invaded their privacy.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled last month the bleachers must come down.

Illinois Democrats are advancing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to shield some homeowners from an increase in property taxes in his budget. That’s over the objections of Republicans and some business groups.

Emanuel wants state lawmakers to allow for a tax exemption for homes worth less than 250-thousand dollars.

Michael Mini is with the Chicagoland Apartment Association. The group represents buildings with rental units.

“We oppose providing tax relief for one segment of taxpayers at the expense of others,” Mini said.

Group Trying Again To Reform Illinois Redistricting

Oct 21, 2015

A group pushing for redistricting reform in the state of Illinois is trying for a second time to get an initiative on the ballot. 

Brian Moline talked with Cindi Canary, the Executive Director of Independent Maps.

In Illinois, redistricting is currently done by the state legislature, with the governor having the opportunity to veto. 

Canary said that when one party is in power, the process becomes overly partisan.

Illinois Budget Breakthrough? Not Tuesday

Oct 21, 2015
Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

A one-day session Tuesday yielded no budget breakthroughs for Illinois lawmakers. The state's been without a spending plan for what'll soon be five months.

It was the first time legislators had been at the capitol since last month, but neither sides' position appeared to move since then.

Illinois lawmakers have been unable to come together on a state budget ... but they did reach a significant bipartisan agreement.

Illinois' current Auditor General -- Bill Holland -- is retiring at the end of the year.

Legislators -- on both sides of the aisle -- have agreed that Frank Mautino should replace him.

Mautino has been a Democratic state representative for Bureau and surrounding counties for two decades; for about half of them, he's served as co-chair of the legislature's audit commission

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

Schools in Illinois’s neediest districts are being forced to spend federal funds to prop up the state’s Teacher Retirement System. 

Public schools that serve a significant number of low-income students receive federal Title 1 grants, earmarked for initiatives to close the achievement gap. If a school uses those funds to hire certified teachers -- reading or math specialists, for example -- the school has to pay into that teacher’s retirement account.   

state of Illinois

Members of the Illinois House and Senate will be in Springfield again Tuesday, but there's still no budget deal for them to vote on.

Illinois' public university presidents warned in a letter of the "irreparable damage" being caused by having to wait more than three months for state money to come their way. Now, they're taking their case to the capitol. University leaders could have audiences with the governor, and legislative leaders.

public domain use

'Tis the season ... to be on the lookout for deer while you're driving. 

Last year, there were more than 15,000 deer on car crashes in Illinois. The vast majority of them -- all but 500 -- resulted in property damage. Four resulted in death.

That's according to statistics from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Hannah Meisel / Illinois Public Radio

Financial trouble in Illinois's biggest city has many worried about Chicago's potential ripple effects on the state with money problems of its own. Gov. Bruce Rauner sees an opportunity in Chicago's fiscal mess.

For all the trouble Illinois is in, Chicago is in deeper. The city's bonds are considered "junk" by the country’s leading ratings agencies.

The school system has closed over 50 facilities and laid off hundreds over the past few years, and the mayor last month proposed a $600 million property tax hike just to pay for its police and fire pensions.