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  • Tuesday, April 18, 2017
    Illinois government workers late in filing tax returns, still getting paid
    Taxes, income (86)
    CHICAGO • More than 300 state employees, including two lawmakers, are delinquent in paying their taxes for the 2014 calendar year, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue.

    Department of Revenue officials told the Chicago Tribune that the 312 state workers are getting their salaries but still haven't filed returns for calendar year 2014, which were due two years ago.  read more >
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  • Tuesday, April 18, 2017
    Rauner's proposed cuts in Illinois show difficulty in reducing spending
    Budget--State (8) , Governor (44)
    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. •   In a two-year stalemate over how to drag Illinois out of a $5 billion deficit and get on top of $13 billion in past-due bills, Gov. Bruce Rauner has been under pressure to show where he would cut the spending he says is necessary.

    But lost in the political cat-and-mouse between the Republican governor and the Democrats who control the Legislatu...   read more >
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  • Monday, April 17, 2017
    Kudos for the Senators' "McPlan" budget prescription
    Budget--State (8) , Economy (34) , Governor (44) , Medicaid, Managed Care , Pensions (70) , Taxes, misc. (89) McCarter, Kyle--State Senate, 54 , McConchie, Dan--State Senate 26
    SPRINGFIELD - There's a state budget plan circulating Springfield circles that is 1. balanced, 2. hides no tax hikes, and 3. actually makes budget cuts.

    We're calling it the "McPlan" budget prescription. Too good to be true, you say?

    Republican State Senators Kyle McCarter and Dan McConchie (the Mc's - get it?) are staking their stellar political reputations on what they...   read more >
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  • Friday, April 14, 2017
    Ameren Illinois plans a rate cut for electricity customers
    Energy, Alternative Energy (93) , Utilities (94)
    Ameren Illinois said its residential customers can expect to pay less for the delivery of electricity in 2018 under a plan filed Thursday with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

    The proposal would lower bills for the typical residential customer who uses 10,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year by approximately $1.70 per month.

    The total request is $16.3 million less t...   read more >
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  • Friday, April 14, 2017
    Six school districts fail the parental involvement test
    Education reform (38) , Metro East (65)
    We test, collect data and measure our schools in many imaginative ways that may or may not tell us much about how well students are learning in the classroom.

    You can argue about money’s impact on academic achievement. You can debate whether a large district is better than a small district.

    But nearly every educator will tell you that parental involvement is a key ...   read more >
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  • Friday, April 14, 2017
    Ameren Illinois moves to decrease rates for residential customers
    Energy, Alternative Energy (93) , Utilities (94)
    Ameren Illinois customers could pay less for electricity in 2018, based on a plan the utility filed Thursday with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

    The proposal would reduce electric payments by about $1.70 per month for the typical residential customer, Ameren said.

    It is the second consecutive rate decrease that the Illinois subsidiary of St. Louis-based Ameren Corp. h...   read more >
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  • Thursday, April 13, 2017
    Rauner campaigns in metro-east, touts need for balanced budget, reforms
    Budget--State (8) , Candidates--Statewide (12) , Governor (44) , Taxes, misc. (89)
    Kathleen Eddy, a senior citizen from Alton, has a 53-year-old son with severe developmental disabilities who goes to the Tazwell County Resource Center for services.

    The state budget impasse affects funding for her son’s day services, said Eddy, a member of the Madison County Conservative Women’s Coalition.

    “He has programs he works on daily and he woul...   read more >
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  • Thursday, April 13, 2017
    Cahokia has highest percentage of low-income students in lawsuit, but endures one of the highest property taxes in IL; Superintendent: District seeks full funding for costly curriculum
    Education Funding (36a) , Education--Elementary and Secondary (36) , Governor (44)
    Given that his district educates a high percentage of low-income students and Cahokia property tax payers already are among the most burdened in the state, Superintendent Art Ryan says District 187 cannot be expected to meet more stringent testing requirements without more state funding.

    In a recent interview, Ryan explained his rationale for joining in a lawsuit against Gov. Bruce...   read more >
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  • Wednesday, April 12, 2017
    If you upset county Democrats, expect a headlock and expletives
    Metro East (65) , Political Parties (Incld Tea Party) (39a)
    Eat a little roast pig, drink a little beer, assault the Madison County chairman — now that’s a church fundraiser.

    And there’s another one coming up June 10.

    Apparently the Democratic hegemony in Madison County comes with the same set of entitlements that St. Clair County’s does. It’s OK to politick on county time, county jobs are lifetime a...   read more >
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  • Wednesday, April 12, 2017
    Read our lips: no new taxes!
    Metro East (65) , Taxes, sales (88)
    Three tax hike proposals went down to defeat in Madison and St. Clair Counties in the last election, but you can bet we haven't seen the last of them.

    Tax hikes can be rejected over and over again, but they keep coming back – sometimes in the exact same form, sometimes in disguise. They're almost always touted as being for “the children” or “the schools̶...   read more >
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  • Tuesday, April 11, 2017
    Want St. Louis to grow? Then look east to Illinois
    Demographics, Census, Statistics , Economic Development (35) , Metro East (65)
    St. Louis city voters decided they were not interested in putting $60 million into a soccer stadium, which despite the hopeful start of a GoFundMe campaign to raise the money, is essentially the death of any effort to get a professional MLS team.

    In the wake of that loss, we saw the St. Louis media wringing its hands, wondering how St. Louis could ever thrive as long as there was t...   read more >
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  • Tuesday, April 11, 2017
    Southern Illinois authorities encourage reports of public corruption to new tip line
    Crime (28)
    Know of someone with their hand in the public till? Officials abusing their power for personal gain?

    If it's in Southern Illinois, pick up the phone.

    Authorities are hoping callers will alert them to crimes by officials through the new Southern Illinois Public Corruption Task Force Tip Line: 618-589-7353. The FBI, IRS and Illinois State Police are standing by.

      read more >
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  • Monday, April 10, 2017
    Illinois workers' compensation rules cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion a year
    Workers' Compensation (97)

     

     

     

    Illinois has the most expensive workers’ compensation system in the Midwest, and it’s not just private companies, but also taxpayers who pay for it.

    read more >
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  • Sunday, April 9, 2017
    Illinois moves to rein in property confiscation laws
    Legal System (27)
    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. • Kara Bland's 2010 Chevy Malibu still had temporary plates when police seized it for a crime she did not commit. She loaned it to the father of her daughter, who was arrested after picking up someone who had marijuana on him.

    For six weeks, Bland took her 6-year-old daughter to school on a Chicago city bus and relatives helped her run errands before a judge...   read more >
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  • Sunday, April 9, 2017
    Nuclear plant owners expand search for rescue to more states
    Energy, Alternative Energy (93) , Nuclear (67) , Utilities (94)
    HARRISBURG, Pa. • The natural gas boom that has hammered coal mines and driven down utility bills is hitting nuclear power plants, sending multi-billion-dollar energy companies in search of a financial rescue in states where competitive electricity markets have compounded the effect.

    Fresh off victories in Illinois and New York, ...   read more >
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  • Friday, April 7, 2017
    Chronic school funding inequities shouldn’t be fixed with more taxes
    Education Funding (36a) , Taxes, sales (88)
    On Tuesday, a lot of schools were asking, and voters were answering. Voters said they were doing their part by paying out some of the nation’s highest taxes.

    Although most school districts demonstrated how the St. Clair County sales tax proposal would be used to offset property taxes, there were still plenty of things in voters’ minds that should be done before schools ...   read more >
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  • Friday, April 7, 2017
    Illinois moves one step closer to a $15 minimum wage
    Minimum Wage (10) Hoffman, Jay--State House, 113 , Meier, Charlie--State House, 108
    A bill to increase the Illinois minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022 passed the House Labor and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

    The bill, which passed the committee in a vote of 17-6, would increase hourly wages every year, starting on Jan. 1:

    ▪  $9 an hour in 2018

    ▪  $10 an hour in 2019

    ▪  $11.25 an hour in 2020
      read more >
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  • Thursday, April 6, 2017
    High school gets into bus business thanks to our beep-beep state
    Education Funding (36a)
    Belleville High School District 201 is now in the school bus business and providing transportation to seven elementary school districts as well.

    The idea is to save money on the $4.4 million the district this year will spend on getting students to and from school, but it is a scary proposition. They are leasing to own a fleet of 216 buses and hiring 280 employees to run them, likel...   read more >
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  • Thursday, April 6, 2017
    Illinois school districts with low-income students sue state leaders
    Budget--State (8) , Education Funding (36a) , Education--Elementary and Secondary (36)
    Before this school year, students in Grant District 110 were using math textbooks that were 16 years old.

    The Fairview Heights school district’s reading, writing and science curriculums have yet to be updated. Its social studies materials don’t include the past three U.S. presidents.

    Elsewhere in the metro-east, parts of Cahokia District 187’s curriculu...   read more >
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  • Thursday, April 6, 2017
    School districts sue Illinois for failing to adequately fund public education
    Budget--State (8) , Education reform (38) , Education--Elementary and Secondary (36)
    School districts in the Metro East and across southern Illinois are accusing the state’s school funding formula of being unconstitutional.

    Seventeen school districts filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging that the Illinois school funding formula does not sufficiently support school districts. Article 10 of the state constitution says Illinois must “provide an efficient sys...   read more >
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  • Wednesday, April 5, 2017
    Eliminating duplicates from Illinois’ 6,968 layers of government
    Local Government (60)
    On Thursday we will see Oliver W. Hamilton sentenced after using East St. Louis Township as his personal ATM, so what better way to celebrate than by eliminating some excess, corruption-prone townships.

    The Illinois House almost unanimously passed a bill last week to allow voters or a township board to dissolve township governments when they are mainly reflections of a local city&#...   read more >
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  • Wednesday, April 5, 2017
    Voters reject proposed countywide sales tax increases for schools
    Metro East (65) , Taxes, sales (88)
    According to unofficial election results, voters in both St. Clair and Madison counties rejected the proposed sales tax increases for schools on Tuesday.

    The 1-cent sales tax increases would have generated new revenue for schools to use toward their facilities or debt from previous work.

    This is the second time Madison County voters have rejected the tax referendum. In 2...   read more >
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  • Saturday, April 1, 2017
    Appeals court ruling raises possibility for state employees' lawsuit over union fees to head to U.S. Supreme Court
    Labor (55) , Unions, labor (55)
    CHICAGO — The U.S. Supreme Court could hear a case that disputes Illinois government workers' mandatory union fees based on a March 21 federal appeals court ruling.

    In Janus v. AFSCME, the two plaintiffs are Illinois state government employees who objected to having to pay the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 and Teamsters Local 916 unio...   read more >
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  • Friday, March 31, 2017
    SIUE is loaning money to SIUC to help keep it afloat
    Budget--State (8) , Education--Higher (37) , Governor (44)
    The state budget impasse has now left Southern Illinois University with a quandary: One campus is weathering the storm whole, while the other is sinking.

    The Edwardsville campus is facing another $4 million in cuts on top of the $12 million, or 9 percent, that were already cut in anticipation of a state budget that never came. While those cuts cause concern, Chancellor Randy Pembro...   read more >
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  • Friday, March 31, 2017
    Without budget deal, Moody's says Illinois faces another ratings downgrade
    Budget--State (8) , Governor (44)
    CHICAGO • Illinois' already low credit rating could be downgraded if the state does not end its record-breaking budget impasse over the next two months, Moody's Investors Service said on Thursday.

    The credit rating agency said the state is at a "critical juncture," and failure to reach a budget consensus by the May 31 end of the legislative session would "signal deepening pol...   read more >
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