State of Illinois

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SPRINGFIELD - A series of festivals, parades and other events will mark the 200th anniversary of Illinois adopting its state constitution.

A federal judge announced today that a consultant based in Florida will oversee reforms to children’s mental health services in Illinois.

 

John O’Brien has 30 years of experience in federal and state reform.

 

He’ll serve as the court-appointed expert to help Illinois ensure Medicaid-eligible children throughout the state have access to mental health services within their communities.

 

A long-fought battle between state government and the AFSCME union came to the forefront again Thursday.  State government workers from the union rallied at the capitol to call for periodic raises they say the state owes them.

Roberta Lynch, AFSCME’s Executive Director in Illinois, says even though the state Supreme Court sided with the union, workers have yet to see the money.

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Illinois is no longer the nation's fifth-largest state.

U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Wednesday show Illinois' population fell by 33,703 people between July 1, 2016 and July 1 of this year. The state now trails Pennsylvania in population by about 3,500 people, making Illinois the sixth-most-populous state in the U.S.

Illinois was among eight states that saw their population fall, and lost more people than the seven other states that dropped. The decrease was a tiny fraction of Illinois' total population of just over 12.8 million.  

Lawmakers of both parties, and even Gov. Bruce Rauner, agree that Illinois doesn't fund schools in an equitable manner. But with the legislative session scheduled to end on May 31, they still can't agree on exactly how to fix it.

 

One plan earned bipartisan approval in a House committee today, clearing a procedural hurdle that positions it for possible speedy passage.

 

Seventeen school superintendents sued the state of Illinois today. They're asking Governor Bruce Rauner and the state board of education to come up with a funding formula that would help schools meet the state's learning standards.

Judge Approves State's Settlement With Parolees

Jan 25, 2017

A federal judge gave final approval this morning to a settlement agreement between the state of Illinois and attorneys representing 28 thousand people on parole in Illinois.

The agreement means the end of a years-long class action lawsuit claiming that by sending parolees back to prison without providing them attorneys or really any chance to defend themselves, the state is violating their due process rights.

Sheila Bedi represents the parolees.

Former Illinois Senate President Phil Rock has died at the age of 78.

The Democrat from Oak Park served 14 years in charge of the Senate, the longest tenure in the chamber's history.  He left in 1993. 

In recent years, Rock published his autobiography "Nobody Calls Just To Say Hello."  In an interview with the Illinois Channel, he explained that title.

"I found the higher you go in office, the more is requested of you.  So that when you get a phone call, it might not be as welcoming or as cheery as a phone call used to be."

Gov. Bruce Rauner says Illinois will temporarily stop accepting new Syrian refugees in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris.

The State of Illinois is suing a former prisoner for more than 100 thousand dollars to cover the cost of her own incarceration.

Negotiations on a full year's budget appear to remain far apart ... but it's up to Governor Bruce Rauner whether Illinois will make due with a downsized version for July.

Democrats passed what they say is a one-month, bare-bones budget over Republicans' objections, including Gov. Rauner's, who had this to say about it last week:

"This is just getting to their four billion dollar whole one month at a time ... I don't support that bill. I do not, I will not sign, I don't support that bill."

Illinois now has an official state vegetable --- corn. Governor Bruce Rauner signed it into law today without fanfare.

However, he's scheduled to attend an annual sweet corn festival this evening (THURS) in Chatham, a suburb of Springfield. Local elementary school students had promoted making sweet corn the state vegetable as a class project.

The measure's sponsor ... Senator Sam McCann, a Republican from Carlinville ... admitted during debate that some voters found the proposal a waste of time.

Despite uncertainty bred from dueling court rulings ... Illinois' Comptroller is issuing paychecks to state employees.  It's a continued issue, as Illinois has been without a spending plan since the start of the month.

First, a Cook County judge said that without a state budget, Illinois lacks authority to pay all of its employees. An appellate court actually stayed that decision.

Senators spar over temporary state budget

Jul 10, 2015

A short-term plan to fund Illinois state government and pay workers their salary now heads to the state Senate. A supermajority of Democrats appear to be willing to sign on to the proposed one-month budget, and making a legal dispute over paying state workers their salaries irrelevant.

 

Democratic Senator Kwame Raoul says he’ll vote yes when it comes up next week - and accused Republican Governor Bruce Rauner of wanting to shut down state government.

 

Two of the state's top leaders met this morning, even as they feud over the state’s future.

Illinois is on day ten of having no budget in place. The Democratic Speaker of the House, Michael Madigan, said he spoke with Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican.

"I had a frank discussion with the governor and I gave him what I considered to be good solid advice. I'm not going to share it with you -- it was a private conversation. But we left on good terms."

It comes a day after Rauner publicly accused Madigan of standing in the way of compromise.

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A budget that would temporarily cover state expenses -- including government employees' paychecks passed the Illinois House this afternoon. But there's a big chance it won't ever become law.

The spending plan covers services Democrats say are "critical." The original version stopped there. Now it does more. Political hay has been made over a judge's determination that state workers won't be paid without a budget.  Now, their salaries are covered by the plan too.

Peoria Public Radio

In the midst of a budget stalemate ... Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he's re-introducing his five-point agenda, with some changes.  The Republican is also putting out a new pension plan.

Put aside, just for a minute, Illinois' immediate fiscal problem of having no spending plan in place, and the chaos that could bring. The state still has the nation's biggest unfunded pension liability. Illinois’ Supreme Court tossed lawmakers' last plan for dealing with it.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he'll soon introduce a new, 500 page proposal.

The superintendent of Illinois schools says the state should re-do how it funds school districts.

Critics of the plan have said a new formula would create so-called “winner” and “loser” districts - meaning schools may lose or gain state money based on the income of the area.

Superintendent Tony Smith today addressed that criticism on WBEZ’s Morning Shift.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Illinois for a year.

L-B-G-T advocates are celebrating today's Supreme Court ruling that says those unions must be recognized nationwide.

Bernard Cherkasov heads the advocacy group Equality Illinois. He says he remembers crying when other states passed laws banning the recognition of same-sex marriage.

"And so now to see this come full circle, and the Supreme Court recognize the constitutional right of gay and lesbian couples to marriage, it feels so great. I can't tell you just how happy I feel."

Lawsuit challenges solitary confinement in Illinois prisons

Jun 24, 2015

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. He says almost everyone he knows who has survived the experience.. struggles with mental health.

The Illinois House has approved a plan to partially privatizate Illinois' commerce agency.

It's one of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner's ideas for economic development. But the version sponsored by Democrats would only authorize the partnership for three years.

Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie says having a deadline helps ensure the new board's members aren't cooking the books for their own benefit.

Remember last year's election? There was a non-binding referendum to raise the minimum wage in Illinois to $10 an hour. A majority of voters said they wanted it to happen.

But the General Assembly hasn't been able to get it done.

"I am planning on not allowing the minimum issue (to) fall by the wayside. It's a critical component to the development of the middle class."

Peoria Public Radio

The spending plan Democrats approved is broken into 20 different bills ... and most  have yet to be sent on to Governor Bruce Rauner.

That means Rauner is not yet able to sign them into law ... or reject them.

Senate President John Cullerton says Democrats held the bills back so Rauner would have time to think ... rather than veto them right away.

Republican Representative Eddie Sullivan, of Mundelein, says he's ready for Democrats to hurry things along.

Cullerton says budget stalemate can be resolved

Jun 17, 2015

The President of the Illinois Senate says he's optimistic the budget showdown can be resolved before state services are affected.  Illinois' current spending plan expires at the end of this month, but there's no deal on a new one.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is still pushing his agenda, which includes pro-business laws and forcing legislators to limit their terms in office. The Republican's ideas have landed with a thud in the Democratic-led General Assembly.

Despite their differences, Senate President John Cullerton says progress is being made. 

IL State Auditor to retire

Jun 17, 2015

Illinois' longtime top auditor has announced he'll retire at the end of December.

Bill Holland is only several years into his third, ten-year term. But the 63-year-old Springfield resident says he's ready to spend more time with his grandchildren. 

The governor and legislature's leaders issued statements commending his expertise, professionalism and fairness.

Holland offered some advice to whomever is chosen to replace him --- respect the position.

At a stop Wednesday in Decatur, Governor Bruce Rauner indicated he'd let the state go without a budget if Democratic leaders don't bend to his wishes ... and he’ll blame it on the Democrats too.

Last month, Democrats pushed through a budget that spends $4 billion more than the state has. Rauner says he won't sign it ... or talk revenue ... until his pro-business ideas are also passed. The governor says getting the five items on his agenda passed shouldn't be a big deal.

Union workers protested in Springfield today against what they say are unfair proposals from Governor Bruce Rauner. State workers and the administration have yet to reach an agreement for contracts, which end June 30th. Frank Prohaska has been a union member for 28 years.  He works for AFSCME, the state's largest public employee union. He says it's time for a compromise:

Gov. Bruce Rauner has laid out a first-year agenda he says will make Illinois more competitive and "empower" people and local governments.  He says Illinois must make changes to become more welcoming to businesses.  

Governor-elect Bruce Rauner has announced his choice for Illinois' next comptroller.

It's veto session this week at the statehouse and talks of the state's budget problems aren't going away any time soon. 

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