Associated Press

Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar says he will remain in the Illinois Senate rather than run for governor in 2018.

In an emailed statement Friday, the Bunker Hill resident says he plans to continue being "a strong voice for the citizens of Central Illinois" in the Legislature.

Despite February  job losses in the Transportation, Utilities and the Trade sectors, the February unemployment rate in Illinois declined point three percentage points to 5.4 percent.  According to the latest numbers released today (Thursday) Illinois Department of Employment Security nonfarm payrolls increased by over 25–thousand jobs last month with the biggest growth in the Education and Health Services, Government and Construction areas.  Jeff Mays, IDES Director noted that neighboring states experienced positive growth in manufacturing jobs, Illinois has not.  Illinois's overall 5.4 per

People
ABC 7 Chicago

Prosecutors say an appeals court shouldn't grant former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich a third sentencing hearing.

Their filing Thursday comes on the day the Illinois Democrat started his sixth year in prison for corruption, including trying to trade an appointment to ex-President Barack Obama's old Senate seat for campaign cash.

The University of Illinois is proposing a financial aid package designed to keep students at Illinois schools.

The U of I's "Invest in Illinoisans" plan would provide 170 million dollars a year in aid to undergrads and hopefully stem the tide of kids heading to other states.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office arranged to pay half of the salary for the political ally he hired last month from an employee health care account that is $4 billion behind on paying bills.

Republican Leslie Munger is one of Rauner's deputy governors. Documents reviewed by The Associated Press show that half her $138,000 salary is set to come from health insurance premiums paid by state employees.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration has filed a lawsuit over the way Illinois' comptroller is handling employee pay.

The lawsuit filed Monday in St. Clair County Circuit Court says Democratic Comptroller Suzanna Mendoza is violating a 2015 court order.

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tristatehomepage.com

The National Weather Service says a tornado that killed a southeastern Illinois man and caused damage in adjacent Indiana had winds of more than 130 mph.

A weather service survey team determined that Tuesday night's tornado that killed 71-year-old Thomas McCord in Crossville, in White County, was an EF-3 tornado. Those storms carry winds of between 136 mph and 165 mph.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration has made it easier to find temporary workers in case a major public-employee union strikes.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees state council says hiring replacements would be illegal.

An Illinois House committee has cleared a proposal that would require public universities to admit first-time freshman applicants who finish with a GPA in the top 10 percent of their high school's graduating class.

The News-Gazette reports the House Higher Education Committee passed the bill Wednesday despite opposition from the University of Illinois and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

People
Belleville News-Democrat

A southwest Illinois school official says he plans to seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018.

Robert Daiber is the Madison County regional superintendent of schools.

People
Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has hired former state Comptroller Leslie Munger to serve as a deputy governor.

In a written statement, Rauner says Munger will focus on long-term budgeting and work with human services organizations hit hard by the state budget impasse.

Members of the Illinois Senate spent hours Tuesday considering a deal meant to end Illinois' 18-month budget standoff.

The package has many moving parts. Somewhere between a minimum wage increase, cuts to government pensions, and higher income taxes a diverse group of nay-sayers emerged, spanning the political spectrum from big business to organized labor.

Illinois lawmakers quickly approved a criminal justice reform package during the two-day lame duck legislative session.

Illinois' largest state employee union says it's made significant concessions in hopes of resuming contract negotiations, including a wage freeze.

Drawing
Thompson Coburn

A case scheduled to go before the Illinois Supreme Court this week is challenging the law that allows the state's not-for-profit hospitals to skip paying property taxes.

Details of a massive, bipartisan compromise meant to end Illinois' budget stalemate emerged Monday in the Illinois Senate. But, the plan has been put on hold.

People
Duckworth's Press Office

Vice President Joe Biden has sworn in Tammy Duckworth as Illinois' new U.S. senator at a ceremony in Washington.

A newspaper reports that the Illinois Lottery didn't prevent a private company running its scratch-off games from pulling the games before all tickets were sold and the prizes were awarded.

Census Bureau estimates show Illinois lost more people than any other state in the past year.

The new figures released Tuesday cover July 2015 to last July and show a decline of 37,508 people in the state.

Crash
NBC News

The National Transportation Safety Board's says pilot error was to blame in a plane crash in western Kentucky that killed four members of a southern Illinois family.

State lawmakers want an investigation after a newspaper found the Illinois Lottery sold instant tickets but didn't hand out many cash grand prizes.

A judge in the Metro East has issued a temporary restraining order to keep Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration from imposing contract terms onto state workers.

Illinois legislative leaders and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner are succeeding more at frustrating each other than at striking a deal to end an 18-month budget impasse that's damaging the state's fiscal health every day.

People
Belleville News-Democrat

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier has been sworn in as the high court's 120th Chief Justice.

During an installation ceremony Monday afternoon at the Illinois Supreme Court in Springfield, the southern Illinois native said the moment is not lost on him.

Illinois consumers who buy health insurance on the marketplace created by President Barack Obama's overhaul will find less choice than ever when they pick a policy for next year.

The lack of competition is felt nationally. A new analysis by The Associated Press and Avalere Health finds about one-third of U.S. counties will have only one health marketplace insurer next year.

A state agency survey shows nearly 400 state jobs could be relocated to Springfield from elsewhere in Illinois.

Illinois education officials are beginning to draft legislation that would prohibit school districts from dropping students from enrollment lists because they don't meet minimum academic and attendance standards.

Illinois State Board of Education officials say that current state law increases the chance that at-risk students will drop out of school.

People
Chicago Sun-Times

A physician who treated U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk after his 2012 stroke says the Illinois Republican ``has made a full cognitive recovery.''

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday the newspaper requested medical records from Kirk and his re-election challenger, Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth.

Western Illinois University and Northern Illinois University say their enrollments are down this fall.

The announcements came Wednesday as some state universities brace for the possibility of enrollment declines due to Illinois' budget crisis.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has laid off 29 Illinois Department of Transportation employees who were among those improperly hired based on political connections.

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