Chapin Rose

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State university officials were grilled by lawmakers Tuesday. At issue is a record of lucrative severance packages for outgoing administrators.


Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois officials faced tough questioning Monday over the lease of a warehouse for file storage.

The Legislative Audit Commission hearing also got at broader questions over how state government spends money.

Student athletes in gym
Mark Ambrose

Illinois has 852 school districts — the third highest number of any state in the nation. Some are just single schools, with fewer than a hundred students. But getting districts to merge, or consolidate, has proven difficult.

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

There's an old saying that the hardest animal to kill is a school mascot. But Illinois lawmakers are taking a look at possibly thinning the herd.

 

Illinois has some school districts operating with only elementary grades, some with only high school grades, some with fewer than a hundred children — a total of 852 school districts. That's more than any other state except California and Texas, both of which have more than twice our population.

Does it matter?

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

In his budget address today, Gov. J.B. Pritzker listed education as one of his top three priorities, requesting increased funding for programs across the educational spectrum, from babies to grade school to colleges and universities.

Now all he has to do is persuade lawmakers to go along with his plan to pay for it.

Jaclyn Driscoll / NPR Illinois

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker recalled Illinois’ darkest days during his first budget address Wednesday. But he’s also looking to get beyond the current financial mess — and is calling for higher taxes, now and in the future. 

After weeks of robust discussion and a parliamentary hold on the legislation, lawmakers are now moving forward with an effort to hopefully enhance the health of the deer population in Illinois by providing supplemental nutrition. 

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS / NPR Illinois

State Senator Chapin Rose had what he thought was a no-brainer bill. All he wanted to do was help public universities connect with promising high school juniors by sharing basic data like standardized test scores. But just hours before presenting his bill in committee, he ran into FERPA — the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

It’s a federal law; there’s no easy way around it.

Illinois Public Radio

Illinois lawmakers have two weeks to get together a spending plan. Officials from cities across the state are going on the offensive to keep lawmakers from balancing the budget by raiding their pockets.

Riddled with complaints and ethical violations, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services wants more money to address what the director called “a number of burning fires.” 

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Passing a state budget is arguably the most important thing the Illinois General Assembly does every year — or at least should do every year.

After last year's drama — when a two-year standoff ended with a Republican revolt against Governor Bruce Rauner — it's an open question about how things will go this year.

So I set out to answer a simple question: Will there be another impasse?

Dusty Rhodes

The Illinois State Board of Education is supposed to spend more government dollars on the neediest schools, according to a new funding plan. Today, lawmakers pushed back against the agency’s proposed price tag.

 

The new plan is called "evidence-based funding," because it measures what each district needs against local resources. Using that math, state superintendent Tony Smith presented a budget request for $15 billion — about double what schools got last year.

Graduates taking selfie
College of DuPage

Illinois ranks second highest in the nation for one very dubious distinction: Losing high school graduates to out-of-state colleges.

caduceus medical symbol
Pixabay

The Illinois legislature has passed legislation amending the state law that decides when doctors can object to caring for a patient based on moral principle.

Statehouse exit sign
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Sean Crawford talks to Tim Landis of The State Journal-Register about the latest census numbers, and Brian Mackey interviews economist Natalie Davila and tax policy consultant Mike Klemens about their unique analysis of migration in and out of Illinois.

WIU students demonstrating.
Rich Egger / Tri States Public Radio

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said the state can fund higher education if it changes how it buys products and services. He said changes could save Ilinois taxpayers around a half a billion dollars a year, but procurement reform wouldn't cover all of the state's higher education spending.

flickr/MarkHarkin

An Illinois lawmaker wants to make it legal to sell fireworks such as Roman candles and rockets in the state.  The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/1vTNJLd ) Sen. Chapin Rose introduced legislation Friday to allow the sale of so-called ``consumer'' fireworks.  

The Mahomet Republican says taxing fireworks sales could generate at least $10 million each year.  

A Consumer Products Safety Commission report found Illinois is one of 10 states that don't allow the sale of consumer fireworks. Illinois does allow sparklers and other novelties.  

  Two emergency services are pit against each another in a fight for state funds. 

Illinois' Poison Control Center receives more than 82,000 calls a year. Some are from health care providers looking for expertise, but mostly they're from the general public.

"Some of them are very simple ones, like can I take Tylenol and Nyquil together? And the answer would be no," the center's director, Dr. Michael Wahl, says.

He says callers have often been waiting longer to get that advice. He says funding cuts, and the resulting staff shortages, have tripled wait times.