Illinois Issues

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Reporting and analysis taking you beyond the daily news and providing a deeper understanding of our state. 

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Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

While debating, candidates offered no concrete suggestions for addressing fiscal problems but possibilities exist.

In today's fevered political climate, is it possible to have a serious discussion about possible ways to address the fiscal problems Illinois faces?

Not very likely, if one judges by the first debate among incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and his three challengers, Democrat J.B. Pritzker, Conservative candidate/Republican Sen. Sam McCann, and Libertarian Grayson "Kash" Jackson.

Pritzker and Rauner headshots
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

The 2018 Illinois Issues Survey produced by the UIS Center for State Policy & Leadership's Survey Research Office and NPR Illinois shows dissatisfaction with state government, as nearly 3 out of 4 respondents feel the state is on the wrong track.  That sentiment appears to be impacting the race for governor.

Mae Benjamins daughter Melody works as Maes personal health care assistant.
COURTESY OF MELODY BENJAMIN

Some experts say black women may bear the brunt if union membership declines or financial support lessens as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which decreed that public sector unions can no longer force workers they represent to pay fees in lieu of union dues. But conservative groups say the cost is justified to protect workers' free speech rights. 

Yolanda Harrington walks one of her students into Barkstall Elementary in Champaign. Harrington, who had dreams of becoming a teacher, makes $18 an hour and works a second job. She has been a paraprofessional for 19 years.
Courtesy of the Student's Family

Like most states, Illinois is struggling with a severe teacher shortage. And, also like most states, that shortage is felt most profoundly in the area of special education. There is, however, an army of teacher assistants already on the job. Could they help relieve this shortage?

Economic growth, a changing workforce, and new innovations were discussed at the forum in Urbana. 


PHOTOS COURTESY OF CANDIDATES' CAMPAIGNS

Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan's decision to not seek re-election after over 15 years in office drew a plethora of candidates to the ballot. The last three standing, Republican nominee Erika Harold, Democratic candidate Kwame Raoul and Libertarian Bubba Harsy, continue to battle it out with just nine weeks until the general election.

What is the lasting impact of the budget impasse on higher education? 

shape of Illinois in coins
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

When it comes to state spending, Illinois politicians are giving voters what they want. That’s the problem.

Are Illinois residents able to readily and fairly access healthcare and education? Is there equal opportunity for economic growth?

Explore these topics and more with NPR Illinois at the Election 2018: Seeking Solutions Forum in Carbondale, Illinois at The Varsity Center. The forum is August 30th with light refreshments being served at 5:30 PM and the discussion beginning at 6.

The panelists will be answering questions from the moderator and from the audience during the one-hour question and answer forum. 

Forum organizers on stage for photo
Lizzie Roehrs / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Panelists in Rockford discuss the challenges faced by small businesses - including economic growth and workforce needs. 

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, John Lucas and his granddaughter, McKenna, bet on Saber Rattler at the Fairmount Park Racetrack in Collinsville.

"If she wins this, it'll be the third race in a row she's won," says Lucas as they watch the horses round the final stretch of the track. Saber Rattler came in second.

Lucas has been visiting the track outside of St. Louis a few times a year since the 1980s, traveling across the Illinois border from O'Fallon, Missouri.

Lucas has noticed the steady downturn in fortunes for the track.

Panelists in Alton, Illinois discussed why Illinois residents may be looking to move to bordering states. 

Questions from the audience ranged from recreational cannabis to property taxes. 

NPR Illinois news director Sean Crawford moderated a panel including:

Lance Cpl. Damany S. Coleman / Released by the United States Marine Corps [Public Domain]

Once considered the new frontier of drugs and drug trafficking, synthetic cannabinoids have been around for years now and they’re becoming increasingly dangerous. More recently, authorities say dozens of overdoses in Connecticut occurred due to a drug called K-2 that was possibly laced with fentanyl.  

Annabelle Shemer, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Advocates say increasing access to hormonal contraceptives could help reduce unplanned pregnancies. One legislative proposal considered earlier this year aims to do just that by allowing patients to skip a physician's visit and head straight to a pharmacist. But it is having trouble catching on in Illinois.

Community member comments.
Lizzie Roehrs / NPR Illinois

Panelists in Moline joined NPR Illinois for the Seeking Solutions forum exploring the issue of residents leaving the state to move elsewhere.

Panelists:

Online Learning Can Open Doors For Kids In Juvenile Jails

Aug 2, 2018
Students have access to hundreds of courses while they are in Illinois' juvenile justice facilities, but they tend to focus on math, language arts, social studies and science.
Tara Garcia Mathewson / The Hechinger Report

But the quality of online coursework is one of many concerns for advocates.

Isaiah Milton, 10, holds a candle at a memorial for his 19-year-old cousin Jeremiah Shaw, who was shot to death   in Chicago.
ALEX WROBLEWSKI

The gap, caused mainly by homicides, is one of the biggest in the nation.

Panelists at the Peoria forum discussed Education issues in Illinois. 

Panelists: 

  • Pastor Marvin Hightower
  • Beth Crider
  • Professor Dean Cantu
  • Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This is part of our election-year series, Money Machines, looking at campaign spending in the 2018 election. The first article can be found here.

Construction sign at Broadway and Adams in Springfield
Sam Dunklau

Experts say billions in a multi-year plan won't go far enough to address infrastructure repairs and upkeep.

Jennie Hodgers AKA Albert Cashier served in the Company G of the 95th Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, which fought at Vicksburg.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

An Illinois woman posed as a man and served in the infantry during the Civil War. Was she transgender?

NPR Illinois 91.9 | UIS

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on online shopping left two things clear – consumers who buy online will have to pay sales tax on more items, and some states will see more money from those online purchases.

Marcia O'Connor, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Hemp has been used for centuries to make rope, fishnets, paper, car parts, fuel and much more. It’s an unruly crop. It’s skinny, it’s tall, but what has made it controversial is that it’s a derivative of the cannabis plant.

Marcus Butler of  Springfield has been unemployed since October of 2016.
Katie Buck / NPR IllINOIS

Experts blame the long-standing problem on discrimination, especially the "inadequate, inequitable'' education funding system.

Last year NPR Illinois toured the state in partnership with NPR member stations to hear how the two-year state budget impasse impacted communities in Illinois. The adoption of a budget provided some clarity for those affected but many challenges remain. 

This year, we aim to seek solutions to many of the fiscal problems that persist and discuss the prominent issues in the 2018 elections. 

Panelists

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois will host what could be the most expensive race for governor in U.S. history. The huge increase in campaign spending raises a lot of questions about the rise of big money in politics. Between now and the election, Illinois Issues will examine the impact in a series we're calling Money Machines.

Brian Mackey

On Wednesday, Illinois ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed change to the U.S. Constitution — 46 years after Congress approved it.

Panel at forum.
UIS Office of Electronic Media / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Watch this Illinois Issues Forum from Naperville.  Our 2018 election coverage continues with a discussion of economic development in the collar counties of Chicago and how the state issues influence their well-being.

This forum is produced and hosted by NPR Illinois with support provided by AARP Illinois. 

Flickr User: Stanford EdTech

A measure that has passed the Illinois House would require hospitals to have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) who can treat and examine victims of sexual assault. Some say it would mean better collection of forensic evidence and better treatment of victims.

Illinois State Police

 

For this week’s Illinois Issues, we bring you a story about a measure that would train more nurses how to collect DNA evidence after a sexual assault for use in a criminal trial, often referred to as rape kits. NPR Illinois spoke with Melissa Souto about her experience undergoing the testing.

Souto, a 23-year-old Chicago resident, said she was sexually assaulted two years ago on an Illinois college campus. She could not say where since her legal case is pending. Following the incident, Souto decided to get a rape kit.

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