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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Immigration and Customs Enforcement had announced that international students must take some of their classes in-person. If not, they could be deported from the United States. The Trump Administration just rescinded that decision. But many international students continue to face uncertainty during COVID-19. 

When he first saw the news from ICE, Sina Tayebati thought he might be getting deported back to Iran. He’s a graduate student studying mechanical engineering at Northern Illinois University.

The Pandemic On Main Street: As State Restrictions Relax, Local Leaders Face Tough Choices

May 28, 2020
Jamey Dunn-Thomason / Institute of Government and Public Affairs

Editor’s Note: The Institute of Government and Public Affairs assembled a task force of interdisciplinary faculty experts from all three universities in the University of Illinois System to assess COVID-19’s effects on the state. This essay represents the work of several task force members to create a roadmap for safely reopening the state’s economy.

via Apple/Google FAQ page

Illinois wants hundreds to potentially thousands of contact tracing workers trained and ready to start tracking the spread of the new coronavirus by the end of this month. At the same time, big tech companies are developing technology that could help with tracing efforts.

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School districts across the state have been resourceful in coming up with ways to honor their high school graduates, as health regulations prohibit the typical ceremonies.  But some of those plans ran into roadblocks with the governor’s office and the Illinois State Board of Education. 

NPR Illinois

Massive layoffs and furloughs around the state will make it difficult for some to pay their property taxes on time.  Some Illinois counties are trying to ease the pain by delaying the mailing of the bills. Others have extended deadlines. And most common are counties waiving interest on late payments.  

Ronnie Cobb

Illinoisans experiencing mental illness have had to face a new world in the pandemic.

Most -- except for those in residential or emergency situations – have had to make the choice between not having therapy or having to do it by phone or computer screen.

For this week’s Illinois Issues in-depth report, Maureen McKinney looked into how the transition is working.


Peter Medlin / Northern Public Radio

Illinois’ population dropped for the sixth year in a row. And Illinois students leave the state for school at higher rates than almost anywhere else. Rockford is trying to leverage its engineering and manufacturing industry to get people to stay.

Illinois Gov. J.B. addresses a joint session of the Illinois House and Senate.
handout / Illinois Office of Communication and Information

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is already making plans to spend money from a significant change in the state income tax, even though it can only happen if voters agree to amend the Illinois Constitution this November.

A significant chunk of Pritzker’s annual budget proposal, delivered Wednesday, depends on the governor's graduated income tax.

Carly Hagins / Flickr (BY-NC 4.0)

As national debate on government-mandated paid family leave continues, lawmakers in Illinois say they want it enacted here.

An 1859 illustration of John A. Logan.
Gillam Bernhard / Library of Congress

One was sold away from her children. Another was freed and became a businessman. Others were freed only to be kidnapped and sold back into slavery. These are just a few stories of people who were enslaved in Illinois.

Facebook

Documents illustrate what happens when a student is put in an isolation room.

The Illinois State Capitol circa 1860
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

Last weekend, lawmakers elected Don Harmon to be president of the Illinois Senate. It’s been described as a bitter fight, but it has nothing on some of the conflicts from Illinois’ past, including one particularly “discreditable row” from the year 1857.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Tuesday marks one year since J.B. Pritzker was sworn in as governor of Illinois. Since then, the state has raised its minimum wage, legalized marijuana, and passed several other pieces of legislation long sought by Democrats.

Pritzker marked the occasion with a series of interviews, including with our Statehouse reporter.

Courtesy of Alexis Mansfield

Advocates have ideas being hashed out by a state task force.

Attorney Alexis Mansfield said her clients have told her troubling stories of what happens when small children reach the glass in a jail that separates them from a parent.

Illinois Department of Corrections

A pair of laws recently enacted  in Illinois were designed to take into account how children are affected by their parents' incarceration and to find ways to address their needs.

Rick Proctor / Upsplash

Buying and using marijuana will be legal in Illinois as of January 1. We asked top state experts what that does and doesn’t mean, and compiled their answers in this Q&A.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Many cities across Illinois are struggling to meet required police and fire pension payments. In Springfield, every dollar homeowners pay in real estate taxes goes right back out to cover that cost. Next year, as payments grow, the city needs to come up with an additional $1.5 million dollars.

Courtesy of Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

2020 is the 75th anniversary of America dropping atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II. Without Illinois, there wouldn’t have been nuclear medicine, nuclear power or nuclear weapons.

Sandbagging the Bulkheads (mural study, Cairo, Illinois Post Office) by Wendell Jones
Wendell Jones / Smithsonian American Art Museum

Would you say that most people can be trusted, or that you can’t be too careful? An NPR Illinois survey shows Illinoisans are divided on the question — though not in the usual ways of politics. This week, we look at the issue of trust, and why it matters for democracy.

Rodney Davis speaking at the Illinois State Fair in August 2019
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

With the impeachment investigation moving into a more public phase this week, members of Congress are calibrating their responses.

Rodney Davis’ 13th District includes wide swaths of rural, central Illinois, where President Trump is popular. But is also includes college towns filled with Democratic voters, and Davis was re-elected by a slim margin last year.

It’s against that backdrop that Davis has traveled from being a Trump objector — to a Trump supporter.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Gambling has expanded throughout Illinois as the state struggles to catch up with its budget deficit. The lure of additional revenue brought support from local governments, businesses and unions. But not everyone is a fan, as some argue it takes advantage of the vulnerable among us.

One woman has spent the last two decades fighting against state-sanctioned gambling.

IL School Report Card: Now With Even More Data

Oct 31, 2019

The Illinois State Board of Education yesterday released its new report card. That name makes it sound like gives schools a grade, which it does. But there’s much more to it than that. Here are five things you need to know about the Illinois Report Card:  

Cynthia Buckley and students / Univesity of Illinois Urbana Champaign

Nationwide, the abortion rate has been declining since the 1980s, but Illinois has recorded a smaller drop than our neighboring states.

Rod Waddington via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Illinois residents across the state, and across party lines, largely support more gun regulations. That’s according to the results of an NPR Illinois - University of Illinois Springfield survey. We took a look at the new data and explored what might be behind the numbers.


Gov. Pritzker speaks at a Democratic candidate forum
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A majority of Illinoisans think the state is on the wrong track and have a dim view of the economy, but the pessimism doesn’t seem to be affecting Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s job approval.

Chicago Tonight

The woman who blew the whistle on Michael Madigan's silence in her #MeToo case is still searching for a job and closure.

Charlie Wheeler in the Speaker's Gallery of the Illinois House of Representatives in 2019.
Clay Stalter / UIS Campus Relations

Charlie Wheeler has been covering Illinois government for 50 years. As he retires from leading the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois Springfield, he reflects on the decline of the Statehouse press corps, the threat that poses to democracy, and the rays of hope in non-profit news.

TIF: The Swiss-Army Knife Development Tool

Sep 5, 2019

Analysis: University of Illinois Springfield Distinguished Public Finance Professor Kenneth Kriz co-edited a book that documents the evolution of tax increment financing, an economic and community development method widely used across the country, including in Illinois, which has more than 1,400 TIF districts in over 500 municipalities. 

Jemiyah Beard is the owner of Mary's Master Cleaning Serivices in Champaign.
Christopher Fuller Photography

A recent report illustrates just how much harder it is for people who aren’t white to get small-business loans.

Benjy Jeffords / WSIU/NPR Illinois

One southern Illinois community gathers forces together to prepare for the count.

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