Illinois legislature

(WUIS Radio)

Illinois' new Republican governor is calling for deep spending cuts to address a state budget billions in the red without raising taxes.

Gov. Bruce Rauner said during his first budget address Wednesday that Illinois has been living beyond its means.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Illinois residents would continue paying a 5-percent income tax rate under the much-anticipated budget proposal Gov. Pat Quinn presented Wednesday. 

Illinois' income tax rate is supposed to expire in January, midway through the fiscal year. But Quinn says that would cause "savage cuts" to schools and other critical state services. Instead, the governor wants to make the higher income tax rate permanent.

Flickr/Mid-America Public Safety Police/Fire

Illinois lawmakers are considering a plan that would make it easier for police to get search warrants. A  proposal in the state legislature would allow police and judges to talk over an online video chat.  Currently most warrants have to be obtained in person.

(via Flickr/dennis.tang)

Illinois lawmakers will not be addressing gun control legislation before the end of session. Some members of the state House of Representatives were scheduled to debate the proposal Sunday.

State Representative Eddie Acevedo favors the bill. He says he withdrew it since a similar attempt didn’t pass the Senate last week.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Buying fuel can be a challenge for people with disabilities. Legislation awaiting action by the governor aims to make it easier.  Illinois is making an effort to comply with federal disability law.

Illinois law says service stations are required to pump gas for people with disabilities. But in order to get that help, drivers have to honk or find some other way to get the attention of an attendant.

Ann Ford, with the Centers for Independent Living, says that can lead to frustration.

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.

(Screen capture via YouTube user thomasstout25)

Devastation in Joplin Following Tornado

Rescue workers are searching for survivors following a massive tornado that blasted a four-mile path across southwestern Missouri slamming into the city of Joplin with cataclysmic force. The tornado last night ripped into a hospital, destroyed neighborhoods and upended cars.

Eighty-nine people have been confirmed dead.

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Illinois lawmakers face some big decisions in the next two weeks, including how much to cut the budget and whether to overhaul workers' compensation.

The spring legislative session is supposed to end by May 31, but there are still three different budget plans on the table. They're roughly $2 billion apart on how much to spend.

Now lawmakers must decide whether to back one particular proposal or come up with a compromise.

(via Flickr/Photo Illustration/Jason Dunnivant)

Illinois Legislators Return to Springfield

When Illinois legislators return to the Capitol Monday afternoon, it could be the beginning of the end. The General Assembly is scheduled to meet daily through the end of this month, when they're supposed to adjourn.

(St. Louis Public Radio file photo)
  • St. Louis police are investigating after a You Tube video surfaced showing a city officer beating a man with his nightstick. The officer is on administrative duty pending the completion of the department's investigation. The video was shot at a convenience store, through an uninvolved vehicle's window. The convenience store owner says the off-duty officer was working security when a young man came in and caused a disturbance. He says the video doesn't show the man grabbing at the officer's ankles and that he believes the officer did nothing wrong. You Tube removed the video Tuesday afternoon.
  • Illinois legislators will begin the process to redraw the state's political lines in the spring. On Tuesday, lawmakers passed changes to the redistricting process, making public input mandatory. If the governor signs the measure, four public hearing will be required by law. There, voters can tell legislators what they want the map to look like before one is drafted. However, critics say the hearing should also be mandatory after a proposed new legislative map is released. Woodstock Democratic Representative Jack Franks says the reforms aren't a panacea to the politically charged process. The changes will also provide increased protections for monitories, ensuring that districts are drawn so minority voters aren't split into too many districts.
  • The U.S. Army's chief of staff is pledging to get financial help from Congress for soldiers and families affected by last week's tornado at Missouri Fort Leonard Wood. General George Casey Jr. toured the sprawling southern Missouri post on Tuesday, four days after an EF-3tornado destroyed about 30 homes and left more than 60 others needing repairs. Thousands of people were off the post when the tornado struck on New Year's Eve. Casey noted that only a few people were injured. He said most people at the post had a 15-minute warning through sirens and a public address system. He also praised the support from neighboring communities that have donated thousands of items of food, clothing, toys and bedding.