News

Susana Mendoza / Facebook

Illinois has reduced its bill backlog to just under $4 billion — a far cry from the nearly $17 billion high seen just after the state’s two-year budget impasse presided over by former Gov. Bruce Rauner.

But the state’s top financial officer, Comptroller Susana Mendoza, said now is not the time to become complacent.

AP

Unemployed Illinoisans will keep receiving an extra $300 in pandemic-enhanced weekly benefits, Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday, even as Republican-led states around the nation move to end those benefits early, claiming they’re disincentivizing working-age people from getting jobs.

Screenshot via BlueRoomStream

  The state inspector general who headed an investigation into the November COVID-19 outbreak that killed 36 residents at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home told lawmakers Tuesday that communication issues pinpointed as a root cause of the crisis predated the pandemic.

Bryan Rives headshot
UIS.edu

Bryan Rives, director of the UIS Performing Arts Center, join Bea Bonner to tell us what's next after the venue has been on pause during the pandemic. Sangamon Auditorium opened in 1981 and Rives looks forward to its reopening as restrictions on events end.

An exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum features stories from music legends with Illinois connections.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Next to the sign announcing the folk section of a new exhibit at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) is a collection of trinkets and photos that John Prine would bring up on stage - a comic book, a toy motorcycle and photos of his family.

Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs

  As a panel of state lawmakers prepares to grill members of Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration over how a COVID-19 outbreak at a state-run veterans’ home grew so massive it killed more than a quarter of the facility’s residents in the fall, Republicans in the Illinois House on Tuesday sent Attorney General Kwame Raoul a letter urging his office to open a criminal investigation into the matter.

Betsy Dollar, executive director of the Springfield Art Association, joins Bea Bonner to discuss art classes and other activities that continue during the pandemic. The Springfield Art Association is committed to fostering community awareness and participation in the visual arts. 

Molly Berendt headshot
Compass for Kids

Molly Berendt, executive director of Compass for Kids, joins Bea Bonner discuss how all children in the community should experience success and be assisted in reaching their full potential. Compass for Kids does this by providing academic and social-emotional support to empower at-risk children and families.

Creative Commons

Elder care advocates are urging state lawmakers to reduce the number of Illinoisans receiving long-term care at nursing homes after a study showing many of Illinois’ early COVID-19 deaths occurred at facilities that were both overcrowded and understaffed.

Jim Barr headshot
CORAL

Jim Barr, president of the Coalition of Rainbow Alliances (CORAL), joins Bea Bonner to share how they support the area lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. CORAL supports LGBT and all other sexual and gender minorities, their families, friends, and the organizations that support them throughout the year by hosting a variety of events and service projects including the Ritz, Pride Picnic, and Thanksgiving Dinner.

Sheila Walk, executive director of the Springfield Area Arts Council, joins Bea Bonner to explain the role of the Arts Council in central Illinois. Theif mission is to enrich the community by providing creative opportunities to participate in and enjoy the arts by supporting art and cultural initiatives in Springfield and surrounding communities.

John Kelker headshot
United Way of Central Illinois

John Kelker, president and chief professional officer of the United Way of Central Illinois, joins Bea Bonner to explain the scope of the organization's community service. 

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker this week announced the long-awaited bridge phase will kick in May 14.  He also indicated the state could move to a full re-opening of the economy in June.  

And redistricting is a once a decade political process in Illinois.  Democrats are in control, but are they living up to their promise of transparency?

Listen to the discussion.

John Hanlon headshot
UIS.edu

John Hanlon, executive/legal director of the Illinois Innocence Project (IIP), joins Bea Bonner to learn the latest in exonerations and activities at IIP. The Illinois Innocence Project works to correct miscarriages of justice, educate the public about wrongful convictions, and reform the state's criminal justice system.

On this episode, we sit down with the top Democrat and Republican in the Illinois House to hear their thoughts on the state's budget picture and what they think needs to happen.

Malls were struggling before the pandemic.  We hear how some are trying to attract new shoppers and why others say fewer retail spaces may be the answer.

We also track down a statue off the beaten path in northern Illinois.  

Listen to this week's Statewide.

NPR Illinois

The UIS COVID-19 saliva testing site is now offering free tests to the public. A separate “community lane” has been established in the lower-level PAC testing area for community visitors.

Tiffany Hightower headshot
Illinois Black Legislative Caucus Foundation

Tiffany Hightower, executive director of the Illinois Black Legislative Caucus Foundation (IBLCF), joins Bea Bonner to share the foundation's work. The IBLCF has helpedprovided over $420,000 in scholarships to deserving students. Additioanlly, every year, they bring students from around Illinois who reside in ILBC member districts to learn about how state government works in hopes we spark their interest to become civically engaged.

Katie Alsup headshot
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois

Katie Alsup, Springfield program director for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois, joins Bea Bonner to share the services they provide to families with ill children. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois provides a supportive place for families to stay while their child is receiving medical care, and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children. 

Jen McMillin, executive director of the Mini O'Beirne Crisis Nursery, joins Bea Bonner for an update on how they help babies in need. Mini O'Beirne Crisis Nursery is a non-profit social service agency that doesn't charge for care. 

Screenshots via IRMA/IMA's virtual Business Day presentation.

Illinois’ economy was humming along last winter, a few years removed from the state’s two-year budget impasse in which Illinois’ unpaid bill backlog climbed to nearly $17 billion, and finally experiencing the kind of growth that had eluded the state for years after the Great Recession.

Derek Cantù/ NPR Illinois

More than half of Illinois’ largest cities have severely underfunded pension funds, according to a new report from libertarian-leaning group Wirepoints.

DSI

The Executive Director of Downtown Springfield Incorporated is stepping down at the end of this month.  Lisa Clemmons Stott has spent more than five years with the organization and has been a voice for the area during that time. There was no reason given for her decision.  

DSI

The Executive Director of Downtown Springfield Incorporated is stepping down at the end of this month.  Lisa Clemmons Stott has spent more than five years with the organization and has been a voice for the area during that time. There was no reason given for her decision.  

Gus Gordon headshot
Ed Clark

Gus Gordon, executive director of the Hoogland Center for the Arts, joins Bea Bonner for an update on how the facility and its programs are faring during the pandemic. The Hoogland's ballerinas, musicians, magicians, actors, and painters — all are housed within its 80,000 square foot facility. Maintaining the facility is a costly, even without shows in production.

Lisa Clemmons Stott headshot
Downtown Springfield, Inc.

Lisa Clemmons Stott, executive director at Downtown Springfield, Inc. (DSI), joins Bea Bonner to discuss the organization's effort to enhance the city's core for citizens and businesses. DSI looks to grow the community of people who are passionate about downtown and its future.

Jeanne Stahlheber headshot
Big Brothers Big Sister of Central Illinois

Jeanne Stahleheber, chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois, joins Bea Bonner to discuss the impact a mentor has on a young person. The purpose of Big Brothers Big Sisters is to help children develop attributes that will help them find success in life.  Through the mentoring relationships they help the children in the program graduate from high school, avoid involvement in the juvenile justice system, and go to college or gain employment as contributing members of our community.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of NPR. The first broadcast of All Things Considered with the founding mothers (Cokie Roberts, Susan Stamberg, Nina Totenberg, and Linda Wertheimer -- at the time precedent breaking as the assumption was the news audience preferred a deep, authoritative male voice) has led to one of the largest networks of journalists in modern media.

Gabriel Rosenberg/ NPR

Since the beginning of mass-marketed video games in the 1970s, players would go to the store to buy a game like Pong, Super Mario Brothers or Call of Duty, contained on a cartridge or disc.

But in the last several years, video games have moved their games online, charging gamers for downloads -- and additional downloadable content.

Illinois Secretary of State

The Illinois Secretary of State wants to see a new statue of Dr. Martin Luther King on the state capitol grounds.  Jesse White says it should be placed in a prominent location and he’s even agreed to contribute the first five thousand dollars to the project. 

Craig Williams II, the Muni board president, joins Bea Bonner to discuss the organization's continued role in Springfield even though the pandemic has halted performances. Each year, consideration is given to developing the season with the goal to provide shows that are familiar but also new productions. 

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