WBEZ

Posts tagged with this author are either entirely or partially reported by the staff at WBEZ. If possible, the specific staff member who reported each story will be listed within the body of each corresponding post.

(Flickr/Charleston's TheDigitel)

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal to give Illinois homeowners’ a guaranteed $500 property tax refund could leave most renters out in the cold, according to tax experts and renters’ rights groups.

Remko van Dokkum | Flickr

Tony Arnold contributed reporting from Chicago.

Some Illinois residents trying to sign up for health insurance through the new exchange program yesterday ran  into technical glitches.

Consumers reported waits of 20 minutes or more on the hotline, or errors while trying to access the website.

Gov. Pat Quinn called the glitches an expected part of rolling out a new program this large.

Flickr/Jason Dunnivant

Updated 4:25 p.m. with vote results  

Parents of two Sandy Hook elementary students killed by a Connecticut gunman last fall testified in favor of limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines in Illinois.

The Illinois Senate's Executive Committee voted 12-3 Monday to advance legislation banning magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

Flickr/Jason Dunnivant

A new report shows nearly a quarter of Illinois' state spending plan for next year will go toward pension payments. The Illinois State House and the State Senate have so far disagreed on the best way to address the worst-funded pension system in the country.

Laurence Msall is with the Civic Federation - a budget watchdog group. He says the state used to spend about 7 percent of its budget on retirement benefits. Now it's closer to 25 percent.

"It effectively means that all new revenue, in order to keep up with that growth, has to go into the pension system," Msall said.

(Sean Powers/WILL)

Updated: 3:46 p.m., 5:54 p.m.

Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois has released a statement today in support of same-sex marriage.

On his website, Kirk says "life comes down to who you love and who loves you back:"

When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others.

 

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

You'll also be able to hear the address in its entirety with analysis tonight on St. Louis Public Radio at 90.7 FM or online, beginning at 7 p.m. Join us!

Updated 3:43 p.m. with reporting from WBEZ's Tony Arnold.

Many Republicans are criticizing Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s State of the State Address as being too vague.

Today Quinn outlined his priorities for the upcoming year - including raising the minimum wage and banning high capacity guns.

Wikimedia Commons

Reporting by WBEZ's Tony Arnold.

The bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois is advancing.

For the second time in a month - the Senate Executive Committee approved the legalization of same-sex marriage along party lines.

Lawmakers tried to pass a similar bill before the end of session last month - but failed to get the necessary support.

Today the votes against the measure centered around the same argument as last time: Would religious institutions have to host same-sex marriages on their properties?

Wikimedia Commons

Two Illinois lawmakers say they're within "striking distance" of getting legislative approval for gay marriage and hope to send a bill to Gov. Pat Quinn shortly after the new year.

Rep. Greg Harris and Sen. Heather Steans say they'll call for a vote on a gay marriage bill when the Legislature reconvenes in January. The Chicago Democrats say public opinion favoring equal rights for same-sex partners is moving rapidly. The fact that four states voted in favor of the issue or opposed a ban on it in November helps.

(via Flickr/neil conway)

Reporting from WBEZ's Robert Wildeboer.

Last week, the Illinois Department of Corrections broke a rather unenviable record. On Tuesday, the department housed 49,172 inmates. The previous record was sent in Oct. 2011 when the population hit 49,135.

The population has been steadily rising since Ill. Gov. Pat Quin suspended an early release program in the middle of a heated primary election against Dan Hynes two years ago. Quinn recently signed into law a new early release program that should help bring down the number but it hasn't yet been implemented.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Good morning! Here are some of today's starting headlines:

St. Louis County attitude survey results presented

Last night members of the St. Louis County Council heard the results of a survey that measured how the attitudes of residents have changed over the past five years. Many don't think the county is going in the right direction but don't place the blame on their county government.

Five years ago, a little over 60 percent of people thought the county was going in the right direction; today that number is 44 percent.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Romney distancing himself from Akin

Republican presidential Mitt Romney is distancing himself from Congressman Todd Akin after comments Akin made during an interview with a St. Louis television station.

During the interview on Fox 2's Jaco Report, Akin was asked if he would support abortion in cases when a woman was raped.

(via Flickr/ChrisEaves.com)

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation that extends the life span of a popular economic development tool in the state.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

McCaskill to launch TV ads ahead of Aug. 7 primary

For months, Missouri's Republican U.S. Senate candidates have been campaigning by criticizing Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. McCaskill has returned the fire during campaign events. Now McCaskill says she is launching TV ads individually targeting her potential Republican competitors - Congressman Todd Akin, former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman and businessman John Brunner.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Metro sees double-digit increase in bus passengers

St. Louis’ mass transit agency saw the biggest growth in bus ridership in the country during the first three months of the year.

(Official Department of Justice Photo/via Wikimedia Commons)

Reporting from WBEZ's Robert Wildeboer used in this report.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald says he will not run for elective office. That comes after the highly respected federal prosecutor announced yesterday that he'll step down at the end of June.

In a 35-minute press conference today the media-averse Fitzgerald talked to reporters about why he's stepping down.

(via Flickr/Shane Pope)

Reporting from WBEZ's Alex Keefe used in this report.

Lotto officials say Illinois is set to become the first state in the nation to sell lottery tickets over the Internet. Online ticket sales launch Sunday morning.

Lotto officials are betting online ticket sales could haul in up to $118 million per year in new revenue. Lottery superintendent Michael Jones is hoping to lure hundreds of thousands of new players to a highly secure website.

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Reporting from WBEZ's Alex Keefe used in this report.

Governor Pat Quinn is defending his plan to close a super-maximum security prison in southern Illinois.

The governor's office says closing Tamms prison would save the state nearly $22 million next year. Quinn says it costs more than 64,000 per year to lock up a prisoner there - about three times the statewide average.

(via Flickr/ChrisEaves.com)

Updated 2:39 p.m. with report from WBEZ's Alex Keefe.

State worker pensions and Medicaid funding could be on the chopping block when Illinois' governor outlines his budget proposal this week.

Governor Pat Quinn says the budget plan he'll unveil Wednesday will bring state spending back down to where it was in 2008.

But he says the seed of the state's current fiscal mess was planted even earlier - by his predecessors.

Durbin supports calls for repeal of Defense of Marriage Act

Some U.S Senators will be looking to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act this year.

The law prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Ill. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin says he wants it repealed as it relates to federal benefits.

"I believe that we should have marriage equality in this county, that we should treat people fairly, that we should not discriminate against them in this circumstance," said Durbin.

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Jason Rojas | Flickr

People who report drunk drivers in Illinois this New Year's weekend could get $100 dollars.  The program called "Drunk Busters" is run by the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists.  

"When a citizen sees somebody in a car that seems the driving erratically or seems to be impaired, we encourage them to dial 911 and call in the car to police," said Rita Kreslin is the organization's deputy director.

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Mo. lawmakers to consider changes to school funding formula

Legislative leaders say addressing Missouri's school funding formula is one of their top priorities for the annual session that starts Wednesday.

Because of tight budgets there has not been enough money in recent years to fully fund the education formula. That has prompted concern that the distribution of the money could benefit certain districts at the expense of others.

(via Flickr/Robert S. Donovan)

Illinois' anti-gambling lobby speaks out against online lottery plan

Illinois Lottery officials want lotto tickets available online by next spring. Both the state - and gambling critics - agree that'll be a financial boon for Illinois.

"Well, it could be a boon, but at the expense of addicted gamblers," said Anita Bedell, the head of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems. Bedell, who has been fighting gambling expansion for years, says she worries online ticket sales will make it too easy for gambling addicts to get their fix.

(via Wikimedia Commons)

Reporting from WBEZ's Susie An used in this report.

Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk says North Korea faces instability after the death of dictator Kim Jong Il.

Kirk, a Republican, says regardless, the U.S. should attend the funeral of Kim Jong Il if invited by North Korea.

"We should sent a delegation because we should always try to build a new relationship with the regime even though it looks pretty bleak at this point," Kirk said.

Flickr/soundfromwayout

Blagojevich plans to keep fighting

Rod Blagojevich has just over two months of freedom before he's scheduled to begin a 14-year prison term. But the ex-governor and his lawyers plan to keep fighting.  

After Judge James Zagel handed down the sentence, and the public was ushered out of the courtroom, more than an hour passed before the ex-governor, his wife and his lawyers appeared in the lobby of the court building.

(via Flickr/soundfromwayout)

Two day sentencing hearing for Blagojevich begins today

Former Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich's sentencing hearing is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Much of today's hearing will be a repeat of what attorneys have already argued in written motions filed with the court.

The one unknown variable is the governor himself. He'll get a chance to address the court.

Former federal prosecutor Dave Weisman says Blagojevich should read a prepared statement and keep it short.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Reporting from WBEZ's Jennifer Brandel used in this report.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says he won't sign any gambling expansion bill that doesn't meet his framework.

The gambling expansion bill was narrowly defeated by state legislators a couple weeks ago. Next week, lawmakers are back in session and may try yet again to advance it. Quinn says they shouldn't bother if it still includes slot machines at race tracks .

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill
(via Wikimedia Commons/United States Senate)

Reporting from WBEZ's Kate Dries used in this report.

Illinois Senator Mark Kirk says the U.S. doesn't need to give any more aid to Libya.

Speaking to reporters Thursday from Libya, Kirk says the country has enough money to support itself - at least $100 billion seized from former leader Moammar Gadhafi.

"I had my worries that those funds were not being released on time," Kirk said. "But I was reassured by key figures -- the chairman, the prime minister, and the finance minister -- that they have adequate resources for their capacity right now.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Sean Crawford and WBEZ's Sam Hudzik was used in this story.

Gov. Pat Quinn says he will need to lay off 1,900 state employees and close seven state facilities to live within a budget sent to him by the General Assembly.

"Decisions made by members of the General Assembly I may or may not agree with, but once they have adopted their budget, it is now the law of our state," Quinn told reporters in Chicago today. "We have to implement this in a responsible manner."

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated with comments from Quinn, unions and lawmakers.

Reporting from WBEZ's Sam Hudzik and Illinois Public Radio's Sean Crawford was used in this report.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says job reductions will be necessary to help Illinois deal with a record budget deficit.

Sources told the Chicago Tribune that thousands of state workers could receive layoff notices.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Reporting from WBEZ's Tony Arnold used in this report.

Federal prosecutors are making their case for why Rod Blagojevich should not be allowed a third trial.

In a lengthy filing, prosecutors say Blagojevich's convictions were just.

And, just as importantly, the trial was done in a fair way.

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