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Budget Hits Lawmakers In Their Wallets: Paychecks To Go Out, Months Late

Anxious legislators will once again see a deposit from the state of Illinois in their bank accounts. They’re getting paid Tuesday for the first time since July, when their April paychecks came through.
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Video Gaming Reaches New Heights In Illinois

Video gaming machines have been popping up in Illinois bars and restaurants for nearly four years. For the most part, the increase in gaming machines and in revenue across the state has been steady.Database:Check revenue reports in your communityThere are nearly 24,000 video gaming machines in Illinois, and the amount played over the last few years is in the billions of dollars -- with a b.Jenna Dooley talks with different stakeholders for video gaming in Illinois bars and restaurantsSome of...
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Election 2016

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

President Obama shortened the prison sentences of 111 inmates Tuesday, including 35 people who had expected to spend the rest of their lives in federal custody, authorities told NPR.

Donald Trump will give a speech Wednesday outlining his immigration stance. Given the last week of news coverage, he could have some serious explaining to do.

An immigration policy centered around extreme positions — mass deportation of 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, plus building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — initially helped Trump stand out in the massive Republican primary field.

Trending Stories

Illinois Issues: Rewriting The Rule Book

A law going into effect next month will ban zero-tolerance policies in schools and turn suspension and expulsion into disciplinary options of last resort. Districts throughout the state are taking different approaches to prepare for the changes.
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Illinois Issues

John Owens

Illinois Issues: Historic Dilemma

Efforts to preserve historic buildings in low-income and inner-city neighborhoods throughout the state face challenges — like the lack of access to financing and restoration projects taking a back seat to more pressing issues in the community.
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When a young African-American man dies in the city of Philadelphia, more than half the time there's one main reason why, says Scott Charles.

"It's because somebody pointed a gun at him and pulled that trigger. It's not because of cancer; it's not because of car accidents; it's not because of house fires. It's because somebody pointed a trigger," he says.

As part of the project A Nation Engaged, NPR and member stations are asking the question "What is America's Role in the World."

Everyone knew President Obama would say something about gay rights when he made his visit to Kenya last summer. Many American activists were pressing him to publicly condemn Kenya's colonial-era law making homosexuality a crime.

River Whyless is a quartet from North Carolina. They make folk music, and also pull in threads from other genres and cultures. The two lead singers and songwriters, Halli Andersen and Ryan O'Keefe, have both had their own musical projects in the past, and say they're still exploring what it means to write for a band — especially when a song comes from a particularly emotional place.

Whether you're in Maine or Michigan, state fairs have their own smell — a mix of hot oil from the curly fries, and that unmistakable livestock tent.

One exhibit at this summer's Oregon State Fair, though, has a particularly distinctive funk. It's the one introducing a new crop: marijuana.

"It was this year that the state legislature designated cannabis as a farm crop. And the general public should know what it's all about," says Don Morse, the head of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The idea of black capitalism goes back many decades. Civil rights activists Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey advocated African-Americans creating and doing business with their own to build wealth in their community.

This summer, the killings of black men and the Black Lives Matter movement rekindled campaigns to #BuyBlack and #BankBlack — but it's a call some supporters find difficult to heed.

Maria Diaz sorts green bell peppers along an outdoor conveyor belt on a farm 25 miles west of Sacramento, discarding leaves and stems quickly before peppers are swept away by a mini-roller coaster onto a tractor trailer.

Diaz, a single parent of three, is one of roughly 800,000 farmworkers in California. Under a bill recently passed by the California legislature, Diaz could collect overtime pay.

Diaz says growers should pay overtime after 8 hours. She adds that those extra earnings would help her cover child care.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The great comic actor Gene Wilder died yesterday at age 83 from Alzheimer’s disease.

Known for his roles in such films as “Young Frankenstein,” “Blazing Saddles” and “Willie Wonka And The Chocolate Factory,” Wilder’s performances delighted audiences for decades.

Here & Now pays tribute by revisiting host Robin Young’s 2005 interview with Wilder about his then-new memoir, “Kiss Me Like a Stranger.”

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A New School Year Brings Renewed Focus On Attendance

Like many schools, Gibson Elementary in St. Louis had big problems with attendance — many students were missing nearly a month of school a year.So Melody Gunn, who was the principal at Gibson last year, set out to visit homes and figure out why kids weren't showing up. Her biggest discovery? They didn't have clean uniforms to wear to school.Many families, she found, didn't have washing machines in the home, and kids were embarrassed to show up to school in dirty clothes. The result was that...
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Statehouse

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

State Week: Remap Rejected

The Illinois Supreme Court has rejected an attempt to change the way Illinois' legislative districts are drawn.
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Eric Skiff

The Illinois Teachers Retirement System voted last week to reduce the amount of money it assumes it will make from its investments. The board revised this rate of assumption down to 7 percent from 7.5 percent.

This change means that as lawmakers and the governor are putting together a budget for next fiscal year, they will have to come up with a projected $420 million more than what they might have expected to pay into the retirement system for teachers outside of Chicago. Illinois' total unfunded liability for all its pension funds is pegged at $111 billion. 

Anxious legislators will once again see a deposit from the state of Illinois in their bank accounts. They’re getting paid Tuesday for the first time since July, when their April paychecks came through.

The candidates vying to be Illinois comptroller are at odds over whether the office should even continue to exist.

Education Desk

Karen Bridges

Education Desk: Busing To 'Forge Friendships'

Forty years ago, during the summer of 1976, school officials in Illinois’ capital city were in federal court, arguing about how to desegregate Springfield schools. Roger Bridges was one of more than a hundred plaintiffs in the lawsuit, but he emerged as one of the architects of the desegregation plan ultimately chosen by Judge James Ackerman. The plan is still in use today. As families get set to send their kids back to school, we asked Bridges to remind us why some of our youngest students will be taking the bus.
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Like many schools, Gibson Elementary in St. Louis had big problems with attendance — many students were missing nearly a month of school a year.

So Melody Gunn, who was the principal at Gibson last year, set out to visit homes and figure out why kids weren't showing up. Her biggest discovery? They didn't have clean uniforms to wear to school.

Many families, she found, didn't have washing machines in the home, and kids were embarrassed to show up to school in dirty clothes. The result was that often, they didn't come.

Sandy Hook Elementary is gearing up for the first day of school tomorrow, nearly four years after a gunman killed 20 students and 6 teachers.

Students will be entering a brand-new school for the first time, located at the same site as the scene of the tragedy.

The original building in Newtown, Conn. was demolished in 2013 after Adam Lanza went on a shooting rampage in December 2012.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Arts & Culture

Interviews On Edgar Lee Masters As His Collection At ALPLM "Quadruples"

When Edgar Lee Masters wrote Spoon River Anthology in the early 1900's, it started as a series of poems printed in succession. They were later put into a collection and to this day, the book is taught in classrooms around the country and lauded for its critical and cutting look into what rural life was really like in Mid-America. For a long time, Masters called Petersburg, Illinois home and the house he lived in there is now a museum. Some other fun facts? He was a prolific writer as well as...
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When Gene Wilder was 8 years old, his mother had a heart attack — and he took it upon himself to try to cheer her up. "It was the first time I ever tried consciously to make someone else laugh," Wilder said. "And when I was successful, after peeing in her pants, she'd say, 'Oh, Jerry, now look what you've made me do.' "

If you doubt that Ryan Lochte is going on Dancing With The Stars to try to change the subject away from what he himself has called his "immature, intoxicated behavior" during the Rio Olympics, where he admits he lied about at least some of his story about being robbed at gunpoint, just ask him. It's not a secret.

Early Sunday evening, news broke that Juan Gabriel, one of the most famous Mexican singers in history, had passed away at age 66. At dinner, my friend and colleague Adrian Florido broke the news, explaining just how huge a superstar Gabriel is. "This is the biggest loss in Mexican music since Selena," Adrian said. "He was universally beloved. There is no one in Mexico who isn't a fan."

Equity

UIS Professor Studies Transgender Rights & The Law

Earlier this year Illinois Issues reported on the transgender community in Illinois and whether advocates say there are enough anti-discrimination and supportive policies in place. Illinois saw its own debate over whether transgender people should be able to use the bathroom they feel represents their true gender when a trans student in Palatine went to court over their desire to use the locker and bathrooms that matched their gender - not their biological sex as represented on their birth...
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The idea of black capitalism goes back many decades. Civil rights activists Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey advocated African-Americans creating and doing business with their own to build wealth in their community.

This summer, the killings of black men and the Black Lives Matter movement rekindled campaigns to #BuyBlack and #BankBlack — but it's a call some supporters find difficult to heed.

The Pain Of Police Killings Can Last Decades

Aug 25, 2016

In recent months, the nation has witnessed how questionable police shootings of African Americans can spark anger and unrest across a community. But long after the demonstrations end, the streets go quiet and the cameras leave, families of those killed have to find ways to cope with their loss. And that's a private struggle that can last for decades and across generations.

Cordero Ducksworth has lived that struggle. He was 5 years old in 1962, when his father, Army Corporal Roman Ducksworth, Jr., was shot to death by William Kelly, a white Taylorsville, Miss. police officer.

Recently, on a hot summer morning with cumulus clouds towering overhead, black cattle grazed in South Florida fields, dotting the horizon along with clumps of palm trees. At the Big Cypress Reservation, Moses Jumper is a tribal elder and owner of nearly 300 head — and a fourth-generation cattleman.

Illinois Economy

flickr/Phallnn Ool

Business Report: Springfield Health Care Jobs; Rail Work Grant; Lincoln Home Repainting

NPR Illinois' Sean Crawford talks with State Journal-Register Business Editor Tim Landis.
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SpringfieldRailroad.com

Sean Crawford talks with Tim Landis, Business Editor for the State Journal-Register.

Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Assoc.

Sean Crawford talks with the State Journal-Register Business Editor Tim Landis.

On this week's report:

* Enos Park Artist in Residence - Springfield Art Association and Enos Park Neighborhood Association have asked for more than $80,000 in Tax Increment Financing assistance to buy a home and launch the program with the goal of artists eventually going out on their own and opening shops, buying homes etc.

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Eric Skiff

In 2008, the Great Recession helped to tip Illinois into a fiscal crisis it still hasn't recovered from. A new report from Standard & Poor's found that another even moderate recession would mean big trouble for the state's budget. ​

Illinois Issues editor Jamey Dunn sat down with Sean Crawford to talk about it. 

Harvest Desk

Maria Diaz sorts green bell peppers along an outdoor conveyor belt on a farm 25 miles west of Sacramento, discarding leaves and stems quickly before peppers are swept away by a mini-roller coaster onto a tractor trailer.

Diaz, a single parent of three, is one of roughly 800,000 farmworkers in California. Under a bill recently passed by the California legislature, Diaz could collect overtime pay.

Diaz says growers should pay overtime after 8 hours. She adds that those extra earnings would help her cover child care.

A holiday celebrating a dish beloved of many West Africans, World Jollof Day, was marked last week.

Jollof is a celebration dish. You eat it at parties, naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals — you name it, you will see the familiar and comforting pot of steaming jollof rice.

But jollof is also war – of the deliciously friendly variety.

When people hear the word drought, they likely think of California. But there's also an extreme drought in parts of New England. The Northeast is experiencing the worst drought in more than a decade.

Health Desk

When a young African-American man dies in the city of Philadelphia, more than half the time there's one main reason why, says Scott Charles.

"It's because somebody pointed a gun at him and pulled that trigger. It's not because of cancer; it's not because of car accidents; it's not because of house fires. It's because somebody pointed a trigger," he says.

As part of the project A Nation Engaged, NPR and member stations are asking the question "What is America's Role in the World."

Everyone knew President Obama would say something about gay rights when he made his visit to Kenya last summer. Many American activists were pressing him to publicly condemn Kenya's colonial-era law making homosexuality a crime.

As an Egyptian-American, I had no idea how the rest of Africa felt about my country, or how Egyptians felt about being on the continent — until I saw the Twitter hashtag #IfAfricaWasASchool, which has been trending over the past week.

It made me laugh out loud. Clearly, we Egyptians are a bit snobby.

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