Illinois

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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.

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

Doctors who care for patients on Medicaid, drug treatment counselors and probation officers could all go without pay because Illinois is without a new budget. 

But elected officials will keep getting their paychecks.

Without a budget, Illinois loses its spending authority. Much of it anyway. Some spending is built in, automatic: like paying off debt, sending municipalities their cut of the income tax and lawmakers' pay.

Illinois Senate's Temporary Spending Plan Fails In House

Jul 1, 2015
state of Illinois

Not only are Illinois legislators unable to agree on a new state budget, they're at odds over what to do in the short term, too. 

The Illinois Senate Wednesday passed a spending plan that'd cover the state for July, but it failed in the House by four votes.

Democrat Lou Lang says that will have consequences for those who rely on state funds.

“People will die as a result of our failure to have a budget and that rests at the governor’s feet,” Lang said.

CPS

Chicago Public Schools’ financial future is in question after making a massive into its pension system.

The financially struggling school system paid a $634 million lump sum into its retirement fund. The district was hoping for a reprieve, but the House of Representatives -- led by Democrat Speaker Michael Madigan -- rejected CPS’s request.

The interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools says about 1,400 jobs will be affected after the district had to borrow money to make a $634 million pension payment.

JENNIFER BRDLIK / ELEVATED CARE

Illinois residents who want to add specific diseases to the state's medical marijuana pilot program have another chance to submit their suggestions starting tomorrow.

The Illinois Department of Public Health will accept petitions through July. Instructions will be posted on the program's website. An advisory board will review the petitions and hold a public hearing.

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