Illinois | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois

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Illinois' unemployment rate shot up almost half a percentage point in August to 9.9 percent. And state officials are blaming the continuing struggles of the national economy and weak consumer confidence.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that Illinois' unemployment rate surged from 9.5 percent in July.

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Updated 1:25 p.m.

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Sean Crawford used in this report.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has followed through on his promise to veto legislation electric utilities fought hard to pass.  Quinn says it would be too costly for power customers.

(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."

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A federal judge has ruled against state employees in a dispute over whether Gov. Pat Quinn can cancel raises promised in union contracts.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said Thursday it will appeal the ruling.

(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.

(Illinois General Assembly website)

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Sean Crawford used in this report.

About a dozen Illinois state lawmakers are headed to Cuba this week for what's being called a trade mission.

Representative Jack Franks says the visit could boost state exports to Cuba.  The Democrat from Woodstock will be leading the week-long trip.  It's been 12 years since former Governor George Ryan traveled to Cuba in a high profile effort to build a new market for Illinois' farm economy.  Franks says trade with Cuba has fallen off since then.

(Robert Altman)

$2.6 million dollars is waiting to be distributed to Illinois’ horse racing industry but the law’s wording is keeping that from happening.

More than a decade ago Illinois legislators promised horse tracks 15 percent of the tenth casino’s gross revenue receipts.

That license was caught up in the courts for years.

Finally a new owner opened the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines in July, yet the portion slated for horse racing remains in the state’s Gaming Fund.

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Legislation to raise electric rates to help pay to modernize the state's power grid is on its way to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has repeatedly promised to veto it because of the burden it places on consumers.

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Updated 5:12 p.m. with statement from Gov. Pat Quinn

Updated 1:20 p.m. with statement from superintendents

A circuit judge has upheld Gov. Pat Quinn's authority to eliminate salaries for regional school superintendents across Illinois.

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A Sangamon County judge says he is "aghast" at the hardships created by Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to cancel salaries for the state's regional school superintendents.

But Judge John Schmidt also indicated Thursday that he's reluctant to interfere with the executive branch by ordering Quinn to restore the money.

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Illinois' 44 regional school superintendents have gone to court to get paid by Gov. Pat Quinn.

The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools filed a lawsuit in Sangamon County Friday seeking paychecks the Democratic governor cut off in July.

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Two men in Illinois are the first human cases of West Nile virus in the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health says a Cook County man in his 80s got sick earlier this month. A 30-year-old from south-central Illinois became ill in July. In 2010, the first human case was reported on Aug. 31 - 61 people eventually tested positive.

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State officials say unemployment in Illinois inched up to 9.5 percent in July, the third consecutive month it has increased.

The Illinois Department of Employment Security says there were 24,900 fewer jobs reported last month.

Unemployment for Illinois was 9.1 percent in June. But the rate one year ago in July was 10.1 percent.

The numbers were released Thursday and are based on data from the state agency and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation creating a commission to ensure minorities and the poor aren't disproportionately affected by environmental pollution.

The Environmental Justice Act was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Chicago Heights and Rep. Will Davis of East Hazel Crest.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says he wants to work with regional school superintendents on who should pay their salaries.

Superintendents across Illinois are working for free after Quinn in early July eliminated the funds that pay them and their assistants. That's because there's a budget dispute over where the money to pay them should come from.

Quinn said Monday he thinks "we can work that out" but provided no details.

(Robert Altman)

A decision by lawmakers to approve a massive expansion of gambling in Illinois has been followed by two months of delay as Gov. Pat Quinn studies the measure and decides where he stands.

Quinn has met with a revolving door of supporters and opponents, but he's given no details on what changes he'd like to see. Skeptical lawmakers continue to use a legislative maneuver to hang onto the bill until Quinn explains what he wants.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A spokesman says Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will sign a bill to allow the children of immigrants, both legal and illegal, to get private college scholarships and enroll in state college savings programs.

Quinn spokesman Grant Klinzman says the governor will sign the bill Monday.

Called the Illinois Dream Act, the measure creates a panel to raise private money for college scholarships. Supporters say this will help illegal immigrants who graduate from Illinois high schools go on to college because they may otherwise not be able to afford it.

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Another heat-related death has been reported in Madison County, Ill.

Mildred M. Guide, 79, of Collinsville, Ill. is the latest person to fall victim to this season's sweltering weather, the Madison County Coroner announced in a statement.

According to the coroner's statement, Guide's home had a working air conditioner installed, but that it had been turned off. The temperature inside the house was reportedly near a possible 100 degrees.

Two dogs, kept as family pets, were also found dead inside the home, the coroner's statement said.

The first heat-related death reported in Madison County this season was that of 51-year-old Mitsunari Uechi on July 11.

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Gov. Pat Quinn is defending signing a budget that state officials say didn't fully fund 12 of 14 agencies even before the Chicago Democrat canceled raises for thousands of state workers.

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Unemployment in Illinois increased to 9.2 percent in June, the second straight month the state jobless rate increased.

The state Department of Employment Security on Thursday laid part of the blame on weak consumer confidence they said was hindering the national economy.

The national unemployment rate hit also 9.2 percent in June. That was up from 9.1 percent.

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Illinois' education chief says the state hasn't provided enough money to institute a new education reform law that's been praised nationwide.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law last month legislation that makes it harder for teachers to strike and easier for districts to fire them, among other things. The bill had support from unions and advocacy groups.

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About 20 percent of seniors and people with disabilities will lose prescription drug coverage because of cuts in the Illinois state budget.

State officials are sending letters to 43,000 participants saying they won't qualify for "Illinois Cares Rx" as of Sept. 1. Those who are still enrolled will pay more out of pocket for their prescriptions.

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Illinois home foreclosure activity rose 4 percent in June compared to the previous month, but was down 25 percent from one year earlier.

A report released Thursday by Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac shows Illinois with 6,541 homes receiving initial foreclosure filings last month.

Another 1,944 properties were scheduled for auction sale and 2,529 properties were repossessed by banks.

Looking at the first six months of the year, Illinois foreclosure activity fell 29 percent compared to the same period last year.

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The sweltering summer temperatures that have gripped the Midwest are being blamed in the suspected heat-stroke death of a 51-year-old man in southwestern Illinois.

Madison County Coroner Stephen Nonn says Mitsunari Uechi was found unresponsive Sunday night in his Granite City mobile home by his live-in mother and later was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Nonn says the home's air conditioner wasn't working, and the man's body temperature was 104 degrees when he arrived at the hospital.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A major state employee union has asked an arbitrator to decide whether Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn can cancel scheduled raises for thousands of workers.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees sought the ruling Thursday. Quinn announced last week he was canceling the $75 million in raises to help deal with the state's budget crisis.

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Illinois is down to just reading and arithmetic. Writing skills will no longer be tested during the state's standardized exams for high school juniors every spring.

The Chicago Tribune reports that eliminating the writing exams will save about $2.4 million amid the state's budgetary shortfalls.

Illinois had already dropped writing assessments for elementary and middle school students last year.

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Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

Illinois had offered health insurance coverage to all children. But now there's an income cap to get the state-backed coverage - critics call it shortsighted.

As the name "All Kids" suggests, all children were eligible, but as of July 1, only families within 300 percent of the poverty level can apply.

That's an income cap of $67,000 for a family of four.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says he's ready to go to court over canceling pay raises for nearly 30,000 state workers.

Quinn defended his decision to deny the raises by blaming the General Assembly for not appropriating the necessary money. He said Tuesday the state can't provide the increase unless lawmakers set aside enough money.

The raises are required under state government's union contracts.

(via Flickr/ChrisEaves.com)

Reporting by Illinois Public Radio’s Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

The cuts Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn made to hospitals probably won’t be the final deal. The administration is using the move in an effort to further its agenda.

Illinois reimburses hospitals when they take on low-income patients who are on Medicaid, and state law sets the rate hospitals are to be paid.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Reporting by WBEZ’s Robert Wildeboer used in this report.

Within the next few weeks, attorneys for ousted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will be asking Judge James Zagel for a mistrial. That’s unlikely to succeed, which means they’ll move on to a higher court. Still, Blagojevich’s testimony could cause problems for an appeal.

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