WNIJ's Gas Price Monday: June 29, 2015

Jun 29, 2015
Carl Nelson/WNIJ

Gas prices in the Rockford area remained relatively stagnant since last week, but the state average decreased by more than a nickel per gallon.


According to AAA, the average Rockford area gas price is currently $2.78 per gallon. That's 2 cents less than last week and about a dollar less than a year ago. 


Tuesday is "deadline day" for state government.  But one deadline is being given a month-long extension.

Tuesday is the final day of the fiscal year; after that, the current budget expires. It's also the final day of the state's contract with its largest public employees union, AFSCME.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and the union have met at the bargaining table, but AFSCME leadership has described the two sides are far apart.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s rejection of a spending plan gives Illinois lawmakers just five days to find an agreement -- and avoid a government shutdown.

But an event on Chicago’s West Side shed some light into just how far apart things remain between Rauner and Democratic legislators.

You’ve probably heard about the increasing tensions between Rauner and Democrats. And in that time, the voice and tone of Rauner’s opposition maybe hasn’t been all that dramatic.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

One of the longest-serving inmates in an Illinois prison was granted parole Thursday. Joseph Bigsby was a teenager in 1973 when he shot and killed a Chicago police officer. Right now, Illinois is holding more than 48,000 inmates. Just 40 of them — less than a tenth of a percent — have been there since 1975 or earlier.

Bigsby had been in that unique class. His case is extraordinary because of who he killed, because it’s rare for men in his position to get parole, and because of his young age when he received essentially a life sentence.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has vetoed the bulk of a proposed new state budget. Only funding for schools is safe.

Rauner says he had to do it because the plan approved by Democrats is out of balance and, thus, unconstitutional.

But that means Illinois in will have almost no spending authority when the new fiscal year begins next Wednesday, July 1.

flickr user / Michael Coghlan "Prison Bars" (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A federal lawsuit alleges that the Illinois Department of Corrections use of solitary confinement is “cruel, inhumane and offensive to basic human decency.”

The complaint says about 23 hundred people in Illinois prisons are in solitary on any given day -- and that many of those people are there for very minor infractions.

Brian Nelson spent 23 years in solitary.

“I paced 18 hours every day, and they had to cut blood blisters off my feet,” Nelson said. “Consider an animal in the zoo-- we don’t put them in an environment like that.”


The U.S. House has overwhelmingly approved legislation to change the way the Environmental Protection Agency reviews and evaluates potentially toxic and dangerous chemicals used in commerce.

The existing Toxic Substances Control Act, written in 1976, is seen as a failure by many business and environmental organizations. Members of Congress say it has built-in weaknesses and unnecessary complexities that prevent the EPA from doing its job.

Education Bill Signals New Funding Strategy

Jun 25, 2015

Governor Bruce Rauner has approved the portion of the state budget earmarked for public schools. His move yesterday ensures schools will be able to open on time.

The legislation even increases funding for education by more than $200 million dollars over the previous year.

Rauner, a Republican, says he still wants to send even more money to schools. At the same time, he is already taking steps to cut other state services --- including a program that helps working, low-income families pay for daycare.

More Severe Weather To Come For Northern Illinois

Jun 24, 2015
Andrew Epstein / WNIJ

A new weather system could bring as much as five inches of rain to northern Illinois through today. That’s according to NIU meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste. 

Sebenste says the incoming weather won’t be as bad as Monday’s storms, but it could be bad enough to yield another small tornado along the I-88 corridor.

The ground is still pretty saturated from Monday’s storms. Sebenste recommends making sure your sump pump and accessories are fully functioning and to heed any weather-related warnings.

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

Chicago Public Schools’ struggling finances appear to be caught in the ongoing dispute between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and top Democrats.

There seemed to be a deal. Several Republicans voted yes - to let Chicago Public Schools delay paying $634 million in pension money due next week.

But many suburban Democrats in potentially competitive election districts voted no and defeated the bill.

Governor Rauner’s office says Democrats voted against the bill because House Speaker Michael Madigan instructed them to.