Illinois

The Illinois Republican Party’s top brass says it’s optimistic about its chances in 2020. Officials rallied the base Thursday at the Illinois State Fair.

Dianne Gordon, a mom who lives in Champaign, knew something was wrong with her daughter Rory the minute she stepped off the school bus one afternoon in April. 

President Donald Trump says he is “very strongly considering” commuting the prison sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.

A Chicago-based think tank on Tuesday called for a federal investigation into racial disparity in small-business lending.

Banks in Illinois, and the nation as a whole, are more likely to lend to white-owned small businesses as opposed to their minority counterparts to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

With Water Slowly Receding, What Comes Next?

Jul 30, 2019
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WSIU Radio

On this edition of WSIU InFocus, we hear from some soil experts and a local farmer about the impact of the floodwaters in southern Illinois.

In late March, a child welfare worker visited the family home of 9-year-old Byron Casanova in Johnston City, Illinois. The social worker expressed concerns about the environment but Byron and his three siblings weren’t removed from the home. Four days later, Byron Casanova committed suicide.  

“The Intact worker was there the Tuesday before, noted some things in the house and said he was concerned about the current cleanliness of the house,” said Johnston City Police Chief William Stark.

Less than half the corn and soybean crops in Illinois are in good to excellent condition, according to the latest crop progress report from the U-S Department of Agriculture.

That's fewer crops than usual doing well at this point in the year, and is due primarily to the wet spring that delayed planting for many farmers across the state.

Six new casinos are planned for Illinois. Lawmakers expect hefty tax revenue, but the casinos also raise the risk of problem gambling. 

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is rejecting a push to take on Chicago’s pension debt. But local pension costs are a growing problem across the state.

Illinois’ weed legalization law won’t take effect until next year, but the Illinois State Police is wasting no time. That agency is preparing to enforce new regulations surrounding legal cannabis.


Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker Friday signed into law a long-awaited $45 billion infrastructure plan.

Who should pay pension costs for Illinois teachers and school administrators? Currently, the state bears virtually all the cost, leaving the state’s 852 school districts free to negotiate benefits without worrying about the price tag. 

As Statewide listeners heard earlier this month, the education advocacy group called Stand For Children hopes to persuade lawmakers to shift pension costs to districts by integrating them in the new school funding formula. The group’s legislative director, Jessica Handy, calls that an “equity boost.”

This week, we bring you the response from the Illinois Education Association — the state’s largest teachers union — whose lobbyist, Will Lovett, spoke with our education reporter Dusty Rhodes.

State Capital Bill Brings More Work To Southern Illinois
ET Simonds / ET Simonds

Governor JB Pritzker signed the capital bill today.

The $42 billion capital plan will improve the state’s horizontal and vertical infrastructure.

Illinois capital bill plan is official and will be paid for through a variety of tax and fee increases.

Opioid use is on the rise in Illinois. In response, the General Assembly adopted a plan to create a statewide needle exchange.

The measure calls for a  new community-based needle exchange programs, which the Illinois Department of Public Health would have to sanction.

Low-income college students in Illinois got some good news today. The state's Monetary Award Program — which provides MAP grants to help pay for tuition — will be able to give more grants with more money, thanks to the largest appropriation in the fund’s history.

Lynne Baker, with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, says the agency approved a new formula that will boost grants by an average of $220 and cover at least 6,700 more students.

A bible belonging to Abraham Lincoln has been unveiled to the public for the first time in 150 years.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on whether the Trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. In Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker is moving ahead with plans to make sure everyone in the state is counted.

People in Illinois struggling to repay certain kinds of debt could get some relief under a new plan pending approval from Gov. J.B. Pritzker. 

The measure calls for lowering interest rates on outstanding consumer debt from 9 percent to 5 percent. It would also trim 10 years off the time a lender can pursue collection.

The legislation would only apply to consumer debt — that is, debt for personal, family or household expenses. It's also limited to debt under $25,000.

Illinois lawmakers from both parties have been bragging about passing a balanced budget this year, but Comptroller Susana Mendoza says the state still needs to address more than $7 billion in unpaid bills.

Looking at the well-being of Illinois’ children through a racial lens … shows big disparities, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual KIDS count report.

Racial disparities show up on measures of health, educational achievement, and economic well-being.

Augie Torres said he missed between seven and 10 job interviews when he was released from prison in October 2014 because he was on an electronic monitor that barred him from leaving home except for certain hours three days per week.

Illinoisans are likely to have to pay more sales tax when shopping online after state lawmakers made two big changes to tax rules. State tax collections are expected to increase by $288 million this year.

First, marketplaces – think eBay or Etsy – will be required to collect the 6.25 percent state sales tax on behalf of third-parties selling to Illinois customers. Until this legislation, it’s been up to each seller to collect the tax. And, Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said many do not.

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller takes a look back at the Spring 2019 Legislative Session with Illinois Lawmakers Host Jak Tichenor.


Pleasant Plains is a small but prosperous town about 15 minutes northwest of Springfield. Its schools are all rated “commendable,” and their test results outshine state averages in every subject.

And yet, in March, the high school principal, Luke Brooks, asked Illinois lawmakers to stop requiring algebra.

One year after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states outside of Nevada to set up their own sports betting rules, some experts are offering Illinois lawmakers tips as a final proposal is drafted. 

Illinois continues to lose residents, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau released in April. Overall, around 45,000 fewer people lived in the state in 2018 than 2017, a loss of about 0.4%.

About half of that decline is in the Chicago metropolitan region, particularly in Cook County, which saw a 0.5% decrease. The recent numbers show growth in the Chicago region has slowed, but long-term trends find that downstate is shrinking at a much faster and sustained pace.

“If we take that longer view, we’re actually seeing population growth centered up around Chicago,” said Cynthia Buckley, a professor of sociology and social demographer at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.

Illinois lawmakers are moving forward with a measure that aims to keep your digital devices from secretely recording you without consent. The bill is called the KIDS Act, which stands for Keeping Internet Devices Safe.

While Illinois is struggling with a teacher shortage, some potential teachers are finding barriers to getting a license. Our education reporter Dusty Rhodes introduces us to one of those aspiring teachers.

 

Several of Illinois’ Division I athletic directors say they don’t want gamblers to be able to bet on college sports. Lawmakers heard from them and others Thursday in Chicago as talks continue on how to legalize and regulate sports betting. 

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