Politics

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No Pay Increase For U Of I Employees Until Budget Deal

Jul 30, 2015
WUIS

University of Illinois employees won't see pay raises, at least until a state budget is finalized. 

Nearly a month into the new fiscal year, the university is still waiting to see the impact of budget negotiations.

Without a budget in place, President Timothy Killeen sent a letter to the campuses that says the U of I is temporarily deferring consideration of a salary program.   Usually, those pay increases kick in around the time classes start in August.  Killeen says the decision will impact all personnel.

WUIS

You’ll be able to get your fill of corn dogs and lemon shakeups as usual when state fairs get underway next month. 

Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan said that without a budget, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner does not have the power to spend on Illinois’ two state fairs.  But both events are moving forward.

Without a state budget, funding has halted for social services and other programs. Rauner’s administration has not made clear how it intends to pay for fair expenses.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Governor Bruce Rauner has vetoed legislation that would have blocked public-employee strikes and management lockouts of those workers. He vetoed the bill in part because it was based on what he called the false premise he has been unreasonable in negotiating with state workers.

The governor also complained about the measure's plan to resolve contract-negotiation impasses with binding arbitration. 

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

Illinois state lawmakers are warning key figures in Chicago and Cook County governments to draft back-up plans for their underfunded pensions.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle are both trying to approve changes to the retirement benefits their government workers receive because the funds are running out of money.

But that comes after the state Supreme Court called reductions in benefits to State of Illinois employees’ pensions unconstitutional.

Political Leaders Urge Rauner To Backtrack On Amtrak Cuts

Jul 29, 2015
Brian Mackey / WUIS

A group of downstate political leaders is urging Governor Bruce Rauner to backtrack on proposed cuts to Amtrak.

Members of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association held a news conference in Springfield to warn of possible cuts. Joining them was State Representative Don Moffitt, whose district includes the Amtrak line through Princeton, Galesburg and Macomb. 

Moffitt says Amtrak currently serves a lot of college students in western Illinois and across the state. He says if passenger rail service is ever going to be self-supporting, it must be on-time and provide options. 

Illinois is likely to enter August without a full-year budget for Fiscal Year 2016, which began July 1. The longer the impasse continues, the more the impact will be felt. 

Most Illinois residents may be busy with their summer and less focused on the state budget, since schools are expected to open on time. State workers also are getting paid.

Republican State Rep. Tim Butler says the ongoing fiscal fight will boil over in more ways:

Illinois Prisons Still Overcrowded Despite Prisoner Decrease

Jul 27, 2015
Flickr user miss_millions / " Prison cells" (CC v 2.0)

New state data show that the number of people incarcerated in Illinois prisons has fallen in recent years but facilities still remain overcrowded.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports that the most recent report on Illinois Department of Corrections facilities shows the agency held 47,483 inmates in May 2015. That's the lowest since May 2010 when the department reported 47,150 inmates behind bars.

The peak was in January 2013 with 49,321 inmates.

The state prison system's facilities are designed to house 32,000 prisoners.

St. Louis Public Radio

In a rare Sunday session, the U.S. Senate gave overwhelming approval to a plan to re-authorize the charter of the Export-Import Bank, as part of its six-year highway bill.  The bank’s charter expired in June.  All four U.S. senators from Illinois and Missouri voted for the plan, backed by Democrats and mainstream Republicans.

Tea Party Republicans have long opposed the bank, calling it “corporate welfare” for big business. Supporters disagree and say the bank helps businesses of all sizes.

Hopes for ending the budget stalemate faded even further this week when Gov. Bruce Rauner's office interrupted a news conference called by Senate President John Cullerton.

Cullerton, a Democrat, began by telling reporters that Rauner's budget was unbalanced when it was introduced. But then Cullerton appeared to offer an olive branch, according to Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky. In front of reporters, he asked the Governor to start over on the budget.

Flickr user / Images Money "Healthcare Costs" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration is not yet saying whether it plans to fund Medicaid providers outside Cook County. That question remained after a federal judge ordered the state to pay providers in Cook County while the budget impasse at the Statehouse continues.

A decade-old court order was used as a vehicle to sue state government and force Medicaid payments to Cook County hospitals and doctors.

Democratic Sen. Heather Steans says she hopes Gov. Rauner, a Republican, expands that ruling to Medicaid providers all across the state.

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