Sue Scherer

Courtesy of Lincoln Elementary School in Pana, IL

The legislative session that wrapped up a few days ago was dominated by debates over weighty topics like preserving abortion rights, legalizing recreational cannabis sales, and changing the income tax structure of the state.

But out of the spotlight, some comparatively smaller changes were considered for the public education system.

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

A survey released this week suggests Illinois’ teacher shortage is getting worse, not better. Eighty-five percent of superintendents who responded said they’re having a tough time finding qualified teachers to fill vacancies. That’s up from 78 percent in 2017.

Lawmakers have been scrambling to figure out how to recruit more teachers. State Rep. Sue Scherer, a Decatur Democrat, is holding a hearing Wednesday afternoon, focused on changing licensure standards for teachers.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

It was a good day to be a Democrat in Illinois as Governor J.B. Pritzker was sworn in on Monday along with a diverse group of statewide office holders. In his inaugural speech, Pritzker set the stage for an ambitious progressive agenda in the upcoming legislative session. But, the Democratic governor along with a Democratic majority in the General Assembly have their work cut out for them.

Jason Parrott / Tri States Public Radio

 The Illinois House lawmakers are considering a requirement that veterans’ home officials promptly inform families about Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks. The proposal is the latest in a string of measures responding to the state’s handling of an outbreak at the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy.

Sue Scherer/Facebook

A recent report has shown Illinois is in the midst of a severe teacher shortage, particularly in the central part of the state. A panel of lawmakers took testimony on that topic today.

In the first of a series of such hearings, a committee heard from the agency responsible for licensing teachers, and from various teacher unions. But several lawmakers on the panel are former school teachers, and Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur) wasn't shy about sharing her personal opinion on why the ranks of teachers is dwindling.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Illinois Senate's "grand bargain" stumbles, Gov. Bruce Rauner fights to allow Illinois to keep going without a full budget, and Illinois businessman Chris Kennedy enters the race for governor.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Legislation to keep Illinois government functioning without a full budget stalled Thursday. Democrats and Republicans have dueling proposals to keep paychecks flowing to state employees.

The Democratic plan would pay state workers through the end of the budget year — June 30th.

The Republicans responded with a plan to pay state workers forever, even if Illinois never adopts a full budget.

Shortly after that, Gov. Bruce Rauner came out with a video saying how terrible it was that Democrats put an end date on their bill.

Illinois State Capitol
NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois lawmakers are preparing legislation to ensure that state employees continue receiving paychecks if a judge agrees with the attorney general's argument that their pay should be halted during the budget impasse.

Dusty Rhodes / WUIS/Illinois Issues

The state budget impasse has largely spared public schools, thanks to Governor Bruce Rauner’s decision to fund them for the entire year. But some school districts are still hurting. 

Brass rail outside the Governor's office
Amanda Vinicky / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Mark your calendars. A date has been set. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has called a meeting with the legislature's leaders to talk about the budget impasse for Nov. 18.

A Springfield native is the subject of not one, but two, proposed House resolutions. Both seek to honor basketball star Andre Iguodala, who helped the Golden State Warriors win the championship title.

Thousands of state employees are a step closer to receiving money they've been waiting on since 2011.

The Illinois House approved spending the approximately $63 million it'll take to pay workers raises they were guaranteed in their contracts, but which the state refused to hand over.

Springfield's plan to move rail traffic from Third Street to Tenth Street will displace an estimated 150 properties. Residents affected by the relocation agreed to the construction as long as the government provides job training for minorities and help for those losing their homes or businesses.

Sen. Andy Manar says the state should have oversight of that agreement.

If you listened to Bruce Rauner on the campaign trail, you'd think that he would want to steer clear of Illinois' lawmakers. He reviled them. Especially those who had long careers in Springfield. Rauner, remember, ran on a platform advocating for term limits. But that was before he won election. Now, as he prepares to be Illinois' next governor, Rauner has spent a time reaching out to the politicians he'd once vilified. Amanda Vinicky checked in with some of them about how it went.