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Unions File Lawsuit Demanding Paychecks

10 hours ago

Unions representing Illinois state employees have filed a lawsuit demanding they will be paid in full and on time despite the lack of a 2016 fiscal year budget.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 and the Service Employees International Union among others filed the lawsuit Thursday in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

The unions argue the state's failure to pay employees their full wages under their unions' respective collective bargaining agreements would violate their contracts.

Farmers Could Face More Violent Weather In Future

21 hours ago
Abby Wendle / WIUM

Driving down a two-lane highway in rural Missouri, Matt Plenge squinted at a patch of gray clouds hanging low over his farm fields in the distance.  "Does it look hazy up there?" he asked. "We only had a 20% chance today. We shouldn't get any rain."

Plenge, like most farmers, always keeps one eye on the weather. But this spring, it’s been his primary and constant concern.

“It seems like it rains for three or four days and after it rains, we get one day of sunshine,” Plenge said. “And then it rains again.”

Guy Stephens / WNIJ

A lot of people think of poetry as something academic and distant, and not as a part of daily life.  A display in Aurora, Illinois, aims to change that view.


Five community colleges northwest of Chicago have partnered with NIU to help business students complete a bachelor’s degree while staying in their region.

The Business Dual Degree program enables students who have received their associate degree to continue their education at the NIU Hoffman Estates campus.

Is Pizza The True Slice Of Life?

23 hours ago

Between the opening of Rockford’s new Woodfire grilled pizza and news that Blaze Pizza is now opening one new location every five days, one can’t help but get the feeling that we’re living in a golden age of Pizza. So perhaps this as good as any a time to ask: why?

I like pizza as much as the next guy. I heard an NPR reporter give what she deemed an astonishing statistic: The average midwestern family eats frozen pizza once a week. I was like, that’s only here? What are they eating Tuesday on the coasts?

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.

The Illinois attorney general has asked a Cook County judge to clarify what bills the state may pay without spending authority during the budget impasse.

Democrat Lisa Madigan announced Thursday that she has been working with Comptroller Leslie Munger to identify essential services that can be funded without appropriation authority from the General Assembly.

Madigan says those include payments specified by state law and those required by court orders.

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.

'Clutter' Can Have Deeper Meanings

Jul 2, 2015

I was set to declutter my house, when I realized everyone is doing it, so I stopped.

I’d even bought Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and devoured the first 50 pages. Kondo says everything that doesn’t bring joy, goes out the door. That’s a great insight if you’re in touch with your inner joy, but who is these days?

Yes, spring cleaning is a venerable tradition. Yes, Americans are materialistic. Even Jesus challenged the rich young ruler to sell everything and follow him. He’s right.