WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Lisa Ryan

Lisa Ryan is a graduate student in the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She previously worked at Indiana Public Radio and the college radio station founded by David Letterman. She is a 2014 broadcast journalism and political science graduate of Ball State University.

In addition to public radio, Lisa loves traveling. In 2014 she traveled to Budapest, Vienna and Bratislava as part of an international reporting class.

Union workers protested in Springfield yesterday against what they call unfair proposals from Governor Bruce Rauner.

After six months of negotiating, state workers and the administration have yet to reach an agreement for contracts, which end June 30th.

"We do not want a strike,” Jennifer Desulis, a union member who works for the Illinois Department of Revenue, said. “We want everybody to have a resolution. We want a fair contract. We want services to continue on for the whole community, for the whole state."

Democrats in the Illinois House Thursday held a hearing over the salary for one of Gov. Bruce Rauner's top aides.

The issue is not that Education Secretary Beth Purvis is being paid $250,000 a year, but where the money is coming from. Rather than the relatively small budget for governor's staff, her salary comes out of the Department of Human Services.

Higher education will see a funding cut next year, but Democrats want to lessen the impact compared to what the Republican governor called for.

Gov. Bruce Rauner suggested a more than 30 percent reduction. Democrats are proposing a 6.5 percent cut to universities.

Republicans voted against the Democrats' measure in committee. GOP Rep. Mark Batinick from Plainfield says the cost of doing business in Illinois is too high. That includes the business of higher education.

The Illinois Senate has voted to reduce the penalties for carrying small amounts of marijuana. The legislation would make possession a ticketable offense, rather than one requiring jail time.

The sponsor, Democratic Sen. Michael Noland, says it would save the state money.

"I'm really looking forward to taking the $29 million a year that we're going to save on prosecuting these cases and actually using it for drug treatment for harder drugs," Noland said.

The director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum supports the proposed separation of the museum from its current government home, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. 

But Sunny Fischer, the chair of the IHPA, says the existing structure works well as it is.

"This structure calls for IHPA to handle administrative work like accounting and human resources, while leaving the presidential library and museum free to focus on serving the public as it has done so well," Fischer said.

Cameras that collect information on license plates are thought by some to be an overreach of government. A proposal in the Illinois legislature would regulate the automatic license plate readers.

Some police officers use automated cameras that track vehicles' license plates. In Illinois, there are no regulations on them and the data collected. House Bill 3289 would impose limits, such as how long the data can be kept.

Democratic Rep. Scott Drury says the proposed regulation doesn't go far enough.

A day of remembrance was held at the state capital Wednesday for President Abraham Lincoln, on the 150th anniversary of his death.

The ceremony included a 21-gun salute, music from a military band and a prayer from Chaplain Maurice Buford of the U.S. Navy.

"We honor him because his flame of leadership still kindles, his seat at the eternal table of prominence is permanent and because he continues to teach this great nation to always have the faith that might makes right,” Buford said.

Illinois taxpayers are waiting longer than usual for their state income tax refunds. 

Terry Horstman of the Illinois revenue department says the agency is working to fix the problem.

A lawmaker says children of public university employees should not receive a tuition break.

Currently, students can get half of their tuition paid for by the state if one of their parents works at a public university. Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat from Marengo, says he wants to make college more affordable for everyone, but higher education budget cuts make the tuition waivers impossible to maintain.