By the end of this month, Illinois legislators are slated to be done with their work. That means passing a new budget. Amanda Vinicky checks in with how that's progressing -- including in the eyes of the state's new governor.
It took legislators years of talking about Illinois' pension problem before they did much about it. There was a 2011 law that affects state employees, university professors, and public school teachers hired after that time. Then in 2013 they passed a law that reduced current workers' and retirees' benefits. Nearly immediately, workers and their unions sued, calling the law unconstitutional.
It was weeks after Abraham Lincoln's death in mid-April, that has body made it from Washington, D.C. back to Springfield, Illinois. The lifting of a replica coffin from a car designed to look like Lincoln's funeral train began a series events this weekend in Springfield, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the president's death and burial.
The nation went into mourning when, just after the Civil War had finally ended, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. No one alive today can remember, but a class project may make you get a sense of what it was like, or at least what went on. Students at the University of Illinois Springfield began "live-tweeting" on April 14 - the date that that Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theater back in 1865. They've continued, tweeting in real time -- 150 years after the fact -- about the pursuit of John Wilkes Booth, and the funeral cortege from Washington, D.C. to Springfield.
A top official with Gov. Bruce Rauner's office confirms, Illinois will restore $26 million in funding for a tobacco quitline, programs for autistic children and other social service grants. Projections show the state is taking in more money than expected. While some cuts will remain, the windfall frees up money to reverse the cuts Rauner made with little warning on Good Friday, in early April.
There's a hold-up over efforts to programs dealing with autism, drug prevention, and more from ending. It seems like advocates should be celebrating.
After Gov. Bruce Rauner says he was forced to earlier this month suddenly pull $26 million worth of state grants, the Illinois Senate used the legislative version of searching under the couch cushions for change.
Twenty-seven people are out of a job at Illinois' Tobacco Quitline, which means there's no one left to answer the phone.
For the past 15 years, Illinois smokers could dial 1-866-QUIT-YES, and a tobacco treatment counselor or nurse would answer. Try calling now, and there's a message saying: "Your call is important to us. Unfortunately, Quitline funding has been suspended due to budget cuts and we will be closed until further notice."
U.S Sen. Mark Kirk will face a challenge from Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who announced Monday she'll run for the seat. It's unknown who else will vie for the spot, but it's already expected to be a tight race.
Duckworth, who was elected to the U.S. House in 2012, took to YouTube to declare her candidacy.
"I'm running for the U.S. Senate in 2016 because it's time for Washington to be held accountable, and to put Illinois' families and communities first," she said in the video.
There's a reason analysts say Illinois has the nation's lowest credit rating. It has the nation's largest unfunded pension liability. A 2013 law that’s facing a challenge before the Illinois Supreme Court is intended to help.
Illinois is facing a budget hole in the billions, thanks to a rollback of the income tax. If the high court tosses out the pension law, there'll be more fiscal pressure.
Analysts like Moody's Ted Hampton say the rating won't likely drop further, even if the justices toss the law because the rating already presumes the law cannot be implemented.
The many years legislators spent crafting a measure to rein in the state's pension costs came to a head yesterday in 52-and-a-half minute hearing before the Illinois Supreme Court. It's now up to the seven justices whether a law that reduces employees' and retirees' benefits is constitutional.
Even before then-Gov. Pat Quinn signed the pension overhaul into law just over a year ago, everyone knew it would come to this.
A legal battle over union fees is brewing, between Illinois Republican governor and Democratic Attorney General.
Illinois' Attorney General says Gov. Bruce Rauner had no authority to bring a fight over union dues to federal court. She's trying to dismiss the case.
Republican Gov. Rauner is trying to get rid of so-called "fair share" dues on two fronts: he's ordered state agencies to stop collecting them, and he's suing in federal court to toss out the underlying state law that requires them.
A disease responsible for the deaths of millions of bats has spread in Illinois.
The white-nose syndrome gets its name from a fungus that grows on affected bats' noses. Scientists say infected bats often show odd behavior - like taking daytime flights - when they're supposed to be hibernating. It's suspected that depletes their fat reserves, and causes the bats to become emaciated, and eventually die.
Last month, Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled his budget --- chock full of cuts to state programs. But now it's the legislature's turn to take a swipe at a state spending plan. Amanda Vinicky reports on a hearing, at which the governor's office had to testify before lawmakers about its own budget.
Some of the main architects of the Illinois law that seeks to save the state money by reducing workers' pensions have begun collecting pensions of their own. That includes the former governor and some people who recently left the legislature.
During his inauguration speech, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan announced a new mission -- figuring out what Illinois can do to prevent violence, like mass shootings at schools. A bipartisan task force formed to study the issue will meet for the first time today in Chicago.
Look back at the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Columbine, Northern Illinois University, and Rep. Greg Harris says you'll see commonalities. Like missed opportunities to help the killers with mental health issues that had been detected, but weren't properly treated.
Gov. Bruce Rauner's prescription for Illinois’ finances will finally be made known on Wednesday, when he gives his budget address. Legislators, state employees and social service agencies will no doubt pay close attention to what Rauner has to say. But after another big speech earlier this month made many go "gee," observers will also be listening for how he says it.