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Victor Yehling/WNIJ News

The report of the death of passenger rail service to Rockford, to paraphrase Mark Twain, was an exaggeration.

That’s the position Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey took at a news conference today to clarify a comment Wednesday by Amtrak Representative Ray Lang to an Illinois House committee.

Prison Reform Commission Holds First Meeting

21 hours ago

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s prison reform commission has its first meeting today. 

Rauner tasked the group with finding a way to cut the state’s prison population by 25 percent over the next 10 years.

John Maki is one of the members.

"This commission is different and this commission is important because we’ve had this goal. No governor has been willing to say this is what I want. So Illinois is really … we’re gonna lead here." 

Maki says the group will be looking back to see how Illinois prisons got overcrowded in the first place.

More Illinois State Politicians Contemplate Schock's Seat

Mar 25, 2015
ILGA.gov

More Illinois politicians are eyeing Aaron Schock’s congressional seat after he leaves office next week. 

Republican former state representative Jil Tracy of Quincy is one of them. She served eight years in the legislature before making a failed bid for Lieutenant Governor last year. 

Tracy says she has experience with her family’s business, DOT foods, and would bring business savvy to the Congressional seat.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s approval rating has taken a bit of a dip in the two months he’s been in office. That’s according to several recent surveys.

The governor's current rating sits around 36 percent, which is a full 20 points behind Democrats like President Barack Obama or Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.

But Rauner says he's not worried.

Brian Mackey/Illinois Public Radio

When lawmakers in Springfield begin crafting a state budget for next year, they'll have $2 billion less to work with than they had last year.

That decrease stems from a drop in state's income tax rate. But a new survey says Illinoisans would be up for new revenue, if it meant fewer cuts.

Republican Bruce Rauner said he'd be open to new revenue sources, like expanding service taxes and taxing retirement income. But since being elected, Rauner has tweaked that message:

Costs Of Special Election Shock County Clerks

Mar 23, 2015

The resignation of U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock and the required special election have officials in the 19 Illinois counties in his 18th Congressional District concerned about how to cover those costs.

County clerks they are asking Illinois lawmakers to delay a new state law allowing same-day voter registration which takes effect June 1, the Associated Press reports.

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Proposed state budget cuts have organizations throughout Illinois scrambling to do something to save their funding. That includes universities. WNIJ’s Dan Klefstad spoke with Northern Illinois University President Doug Baker about actions his school is taking to let lawmakers know how NIU will be affected.

state of Illinois

A proposal in the Illinois House would let cities and towns declare bankruptcy.

Many municipalities say they’re struggling to pay for local police and fire pensions. Backers of bankruptcy say it would give mayors more leverage in negotiating with unions.

Former U.S. Representative Bob Kastenmeier has died at the age of 91. The Wisconsin Democrat was an early and staunch opponent of the Vietnam War.

Kastenmeier served 32 years in Congress. He was 91. His wife Dorothy says he died Friday at their home in Arlington, Virginia. 

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin says she was proud to walk in his footsteps representing the 2nd Congressional District.

“His public service is an inspiration to me today and his optimistic spirit will live on in me and other elected officials who were touched by his life's work.”

Public University Presidents Protest Higher Ed Budget Cuts

Mar 22, 2015
state of Illinois

Presidents from three universities met with lawmakers yesterday to object to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget. The proposal includes a nearly 32 percent funding cut for public universities.

Illinois State University says it might have to cut 400 jobs. But University of Illinois President Bob Easter told Senator Chapin Rose, a Republican from Mahomet, that relief from procurement rules could save the U of I 70 million dollars.

Other school presidents have blamed procurement rules for delaying projects and driving up costs.

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