Cook County Board President Considers Sales Tax Increase

Jun 24, 2015

Board President Toni Preckwinkle is considering a one percent increase to the Cook County sales tax.

Preckwinkle said in a 2010 campaign ad that she would repeal the whole “Stroger” sales tax. Now, Commissioner Larry Suffredin says she’s asking the board about boosting the county-wide sales tax to help pay down pensions.

Suffredin says that would bump the current rate past 10 percent in the majority of the county. He's concerned it would hurt local retail.

Flickr user Jim Bowen / "Illinois State Capitol" (CC BY 2.0)

Legislators' return to Springfield today failed to result in real movement toward a state budget agreement. That’s with six days remaining before the state loses its spending authority.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says Democrats are trying.

Gov. Bruce Rauner gave five conditions that must be met before he'll consider a tax hike that could balance the budget. 

Rauner, a Republican, says Illinois needs big changes, and he won't support asking taxpayers for more money without them.

Whiteside County suffered a lot of crop damage during Monday's storms, but structural damage was not nearly as devastating as the April tornado in Fairdale.

That's according to Chief Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Henson.

Henson says a lot of damaged homes are salvageable, despite trees falling on them. He says no one in the area was hurt or injured during the storms, but anyone passing through should still exercise caution. 

The U.S. House is scheduled to take up legislation today designed to help the EPA better protect consumers from dangerous chemicals.

The bill also helps the agency pay for reviewing chemicals. The Natural Resources Defense Council says an estimated 80,000 chemicals have not been fully tested for their impact on human health and the environment.

The Toxic Substances Control Act was first passed in 1976. With it, the EPA was supposed to ensure the safety of chemicals, from their origin to their disposal. 

state of Illinois

The bulk of the measures that could make up a new Illinois budget are now in Governor Bruce Rauner's hands.

Rauner was disparaging of the spending plan approved late last month by Democrats because it spends billions more than the state has.

"Our people deserve so much better,” Rauner said. “Not another phony budget."

Susan Walsh/AP

Former Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is back home in Washington for the first time in almost two years. 

Jackson will serve the remaining three months of his federal prison sentence at home, followed by three years of supervised release.

The former South Side congressman was sent to prison in 2013 for spending campaign money on lavish personal items. Jackson spent about a year-and-a-half in an Alabama federal prison, and another three months in a Baltimore halfway house.

WNIJ's Gas Price Monday: June 22, 2015

Jun 22, 2015
Carl Nelson/WNIJ

Gas prices were a couple of cents lower across the board this week.

According to AAA, the average Rockford area gas price is currently $2.80 per gallon. That's 2 cents less than last week and about a dollar less than a year ago. 

In Chicago, prices are currently at $3.46 per gallon. That's about the same as last week's average and about 20 cents more than last month. However, current prices are about 80 cents less than prices from a year ago.

As the cost of going to college continues to rise, Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to cut higher education funding by more than 30 percent.

One program already affected by cuts – and likely to be cut even more – is the state's Monetary Award Program for low-income students, known as the MAP grant.

Jennifer Delaney, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of Illinois flagship campus, told lawmakers last week that MAP grants now are given on a first-come, first-served basis.

Top Illinois officials are far apart on a budget deal with nine days left of the new fiscal year. Parents with kids in school would be among those bracing for a possible state shutdown.

Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin — who’s been in Congress through three major federal shutdowns — says allowing that to happen in Illinois would be “a disaster.”

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner warns cuts are coming if there's no budget deal. Beginning July 1, that could leave some people without jobs. 

Several union members gathered to make an appeal to the Governor.

Kevin Holmes is employed as a Home Care Worker. He's a father of four.

Holmes is concerned about what will happen to his paycheck if Rauner's proposal to cut back on home care services for seniors and the disabled goes through. He says he's worried about the people he cares for.