Illinois Edition

On Intermission, returning Fall 2017

Illinois Edition aired weekdays, 2012-2017. NPR Illinois discontinued the program to focus on additional feature and statehouse reporting, Illinois Issues, and State Week.

Earlier this year, NPR analyzed the length of wait times for veterans to get appointments and treatment at Veterans Affairs medical facilities. Over the next few days, you will hear a Midwestern perspective on a federal program trying to improve veterans care.

Hannibal Courier-Post

In Hannibal Missouri, along the Mississippi River, there's a monument remembering 3 youngsters who disappeared.

Craig Dowell, Joey Hoag and Billy Hoag went missing May 10, 1967.

In 1950, Gwendolyn Brooks became the first African-American to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Hers was a Pulitzer in poetry, specifically for a volume titled Annie Allen that chronicled the life of an ordinary black girl growing up in the Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago's famous South Side.

Brooks was in her living room when she learned she had won, she recalled in a Library of Congress interview, and it was growing dark. She didn't turn on the lights, because she knew what would happen. Money was tight, and the bill hadn't been paid.

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

As budget negotiations continue, one big piece of the puzzle is school funding. We check in with our Education Desk reporter to see which bills are on the table, what they would do, why some “news” outlets say districts would lose money, and whether there’s any chance a bill will pass.


The Scene Says 'So Long!'

May 25, 2017
NPR Illinois / Daisy Contreras

Rachel here. Just want to say it has been an absolute BLAST working with Scott over the past couple years, putting together segments solely devoted to arts & culture in central Illinois. 

Justin Wright

Some reformers say Illinois' minimum age for juvenile detention needs to go up.

Matthew Wilson (IG: @matchupee)

Lavender Country is the name of a band and an album that came out in 1973. It rattled some conservative cages, and then for a long while it seemed to be erased from the history books. Patrick Haggerty is the singer/songwriter, he had help with production from the Gay Community Social Services of Seattle. "At the time that we made Lavender Country we knew very well what it was. We also knew that the audience that was going to hear it was going to be out (of the closet), or coming out, and that the rest of the world was going to reject gay country music," says Haggerty.

Davis and Pritchard
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

It can be tough to find a bipartisan effort on any substantive issue at the capitol. But State Representatives Will Davis (a Democrat) and Bob Pritchard (a Republican) are still co-sponsoring House Bill 2808, designed to make school funding more equitable. These two lawmakers were both members of Governor Bruce Rauner's School Funding Reform Commission. That was a bipartisan, bicameral group that spent six months studying Illinois school funding issues and creating a framework for how to fix it. ​​​Last night, they sat down for an impromptu chat about their legislation, and why it keeps changing, with our education desk reporter, Dusty Rhodes.




As state lawmakers again consider expanding the number of casinos in the state, Springfield could wind up in the mix. 

Marajuana plant leaves
Thomas de Aquino / flickr

The rate of positive test results for workplace drug testing is on the rise, both in Illinois and nationally.  But drill down a bit and you’ll notice regional differences in which drugs are more likely to show up.

Two school funding plans progressed in the Illinois legislature Wednesday. A plan sponsored by Sen. Andy Manar was approved in the Senate, while in the House, a very similar plan sponsored by Rep. Will Davis made it through committee. Does that mean lawmakers may have finally found a way to cure the state's infamously unfair school funding structure?

The Scene Previews PrideFest In Springfield

May 18, 2017

This week Rachel and Scott talk PrideFest, which happens this weekend in Springfield. This year, for the first time there will also be a parade. Read Scott's story about it here. Also this weekend, the Springfield Old Capitol Art Fair ... and much more. 

Illinois Issues: State Marches Toward Clean Energy

May 18, 2017
Dylan Blake

Even as a landmark clean energy plan unravels in D.C., Illinois is on track to meet the coal emissions reduction goals it set.

Gov Candidate Bob Daiber Talks Downstate

May 17, 2017

A crowded field of Democratic candidates has emerged with 10 months still to go before the Illinois primary for governor. Five men have announced plans to run for the party's nomination to unseat Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who will seek a second term in the state's highest office. 

Delinda Chapman, Springfield

Title: “Follow Me”

Medium: Acrylic/Mixed on Paper on Board

Narrative: This painting grew from working with the word immigration. The end result, stemming from my feelings about immigration, is this painting - the first in my series on immigration.


Higher education has been among the areas feeling the state budget impasse as funding has been cut.  It has forced some schools to reduce classes, lay off employees and, in some cases, close for several days. 

But a review of enrollment indicates small and mid-sized public universities are taking a double hit.   

Dashawn Julion (center) poses with his mother, Leisha Julion, and his 13-year-old brother Larry at the Black Congratulatory ceremony.
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Commencement ceremonies took place on many college campuses this past weekend, including the University of Illinois. Our Education Desk reporter takes us inside one that's different from all the others — the Black Congratulatory ceremony at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

Deana Rutherford

While the state's budget impasse continues, activists from Chicago are demanding an end to it through a 200 mile march. Today, a group from Fair Economy Illinois set out on a 15 day walk from Chicago to Springfield. 


This month is being used to raise awareness of mental health issues and services available.  

Many still fail when it comes to recognizing mental illness.  And the stigma surrounding the topic adds to the confusion.  

Joseph Brumleve/University of Illinois

Actor and University of Illinois alumnus Nick Offerman will deliver this year’s commencement address to graduates on the Urbana campus this Saturday.  The ceremony starts at 9:30am at Memorial Stadium.

The Scene Has The Scoop On An Underground Show

May 11, 2017

This week Scott and Rachel preview music that will be showcased in a Springfield basement/DIY venue on Tuesday the 16th. The band Listener is from Arkansas and has a unique blend of eccentric rock and roll and spoken word.

Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has been in office a long time.  He’s been a House member since the early 70’s and served as Speaker since the 1980’s, minus a brief 2 year window. 

But Madigan has never seen the state fail to pass a full budget, until recently. 

Digging a hole. A really deep hole.
David Stillman / (CC-BY-NC)

A nonpartisan research group says Illinois’ desperate financial condition is getting even worse.

The Civic Federation of Chicago says unless something is done soon, by next year the state’s pile of unpaid bills could consume half of all new tax revenue.

Spiro Bolos

Too often, when I report on the school funding debate that has been going on in our state capitol for the past several years, I get bogged down in numbers — school district numbers, dollar amounts, bill and amendment numbers assigned to various reform plans, vote numbers tallying up support for each one.

This story, however, is about school funding without numbers.

New World Design Ltd.

Pigs may soon fly in Chicago. That's if a massive piece of installation art gets approval to take off. The idea was inspired by the album Animals by Pink Floyd, which itself was influenced by George Orwell's "Animal Farm," political fable critical of inequitable social structures like class.

Many people are aware of the Broadway hit show Hamilton. It's based on the book "Alexander Hamilton" by Ron Chernow. Elaine Maimon, president of Governors State University,  tells us lawmakers in Illinois and the nation could learn a thing or two from reading it. Here's her review:


A huge fish that has been considered extinct in Illinois for over 50 years is being reintroduced into Illinois waterways.  The goal is to bring back a native species known as the alligator gar. 

Twitter/Morgan Timms

Flooding from spring storms started over a week ago and put much of the state on alert. On the other side of the Mississippi River, some homes and buildings in eastern Missouri have been submerged and five people died. 

Daisy Contreras/NPRIllinois

The faculty will be back in class today for the start of finals week. The agreement was reached after long negotiations over the weekend including 16 hours Sunday.  Details won’t be released until a ratification vote later.

Courtesy of Senate staff

The question of how to fund Illinois schools has become one of the most urgent — yet complicated —issues facing lawmakers.