Illinois Issues

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Reporting and analysis taking you beyond the daily news and providing a deeper understanding of our state. 

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Jamey Dunn headshot
mattpenning.com / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

 Jamey Dunn is leaving the position of Illinois Issues editor. In this week’s Illinois Issues report, she reflects on her time working here and covering state government. 

Eastern Illinois University

Campus communities in the state feel the consequences of drastic higher education cuts. 

Illinois Issues: New Laws In 2017

Dec 29, 2016
Chamber
Flickr user: Matt Turner

Nearly 200 new laws go into effect in Illinois on January 1. 

Trump by Michael Vadon/Flickr / Rauner by Brian Mackey/WUIS

There’s still no budget for Illinois, but some big changes to education policy kicked in this year. As the contentious presidential election played out, several national issues affected the lives of citizens here.

Illinois Issues: Frackonomics

Dec 16, 2016
Richard Sitler / The Southern Illinoisan

A few years ago, Illinois adopted regulations for high-volume horizontal fracking, but it was slow to get the permitting process up and running.

Those in southern Illinois who were hoping for an economic boom have since seen the promise of fracking go bust. 

Illinois Issues: Great American Divide

Dec 8, 2016
Flickr/ Darron Birgenheier; Hillary Clinton campaign

The presidential election highlighted a divide that is so deep, citizens in Illinois and across the country can’t even agree on the same set of facts.

flickr/ TaxCredits.net

New projections show nibbling around the edges of the state’s budget problems will get Illinois nowhere. 

Flickr/SEIU1

Editor's note -  More than 40,000 undocumented Illinois residents, who came to the country as children, are protected from deportation and are able to work under an executive order put in place by President Barack Obama. But during his campaign, Donald Trump pledged to “immediately terminate” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — often referred to as DACA. 

Mendoza campaign

Democrats prevailed in statewide races, but couldn't hold on to seats in southern Illinois. Meanwhile, suburban Republicans may hold less sway in the party's legislative caucus.

Office of state Sen. Daniel Biss

Recently, several social policy debates have moved  from the legislature to the judicial system.

Illinois Issues: Civics Class In An Uncivil Time

Nov 3, 2016

A new state law requires that high school civics courses cover current and controversial events. The requirement kicked in during an election cycle when adults are struggling to have civil conversations about politics. 

flickr/ DonkeyHotey

The presidential race is capturing most voters' attention. But here in Illinois, there's record-breaking spending going into races for the General Assembly. Hanging in the balance is the state of Illinois, or at least its budget, anyway.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

Because Illinois is a northern state and the former home of Abraham Lincoln, it isn’t typically associated with slavery. But there was slavery in Illinois for more than 100 years.

Even after Illinois entered the Union, loopholes in its laws allowed the practice to continue, making the future Land of Lincoln a quasi-slave state. 

Public Domain

A proposed amendment to the state’s constitution would protect money set aside for transportation projects. Supporters say the change is needed because money that's supposed to be earmarked for building roads has gone to other expenses over the years. But the amendment could allow some of those practices to continue, while endangering other popular programs. 

hourglass with dollar signs instead of sand filtering through
flickr/ Bill Brooks

Before he ran for governor, Bruce Rauner described a plan to use funding for social services as a “wedge” issue to persuade Democrats to support anti-union proposals. The fact that lawmakers did nothing to address the rollback of the temporary income tax increase, which was passed in 2011, set the stage for him to try out his strategy.

flickr/ 401kcalculator.org

The political spotlight has shifted to the election, but the state budget crisis continues to cost the people of Illinois. 

Teen pregnancy rates are going down in Illinois and across the nation because teens are having less sex, and when they do, they’re using contraception more often. The reasons behind these changes in behavior are harder to pinpoint.  

Illinois Issues: Legislative Checklist

Sep 15, 2016
Chamber
Flickr user: Matt Turner

Gov. Bruce Rauner has taken action on hundreds of bills over the summer. He signed most of them into law, but he also made some high-profile vetoes. 

This week, we’re revisiting an Illinois Issues interview with House Speaker Michael Madigan from 1988. In the interview, Madigan talked about his views on taxation and its relationship to Illinois’ business climate, many of the same topics that are in play today.

The most recent attempt at changing the way legislative districts are drawn might have had a shot — had only the proposal left the auditor general out of the equation. 

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.

Illinois Issues: Historic Dilemma

Aug 18, 2016
John Owens

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. 

flickr/ Pal-Kristian Hamre

The governor describes the stopgap budget as a bridge to reform. But it could also be called an excavator — digging the state’s fiscal hole deeper.

Black Lives Matter Champaign-Urbana

Black Lives Matter is one of the largest activist movements since the civil rights era of the 1960s. The organization has garnered more attention in recent weeks due to protests over the fatal police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Meanwhile, attacks on police and the presidential election have shifted the conversation since Black Lives Matter got its start in 2012 after the death of Trayvon Martin. 

The Phoenix Center

The state has some of the most aggressive protections for transgender people in the country, but the issue still generates controversy here.

Who should pay for the Illinois courts?

Democratic leaders in the legislature and Gov. Bruce Rauner appear to be close to a deal to approve some funding for social service providers, higher education, capital construction and state operations. The proposal would also fund K-12 schools for all of next fiscal year.

But the plan can’t erase the destruction caused by the state going for a year without a budget.​​

A new law makes a drug that counteracts opioid overdose easier to get. But is that enough?

Northlake resident Steve Kamenicky is lucky to be alive.

He’s 58 years old and says he’s used heroin for 46 years, starting at age 12. He has overdosed several times and nearly died, but he survived because of the medication naloxone hydrochloride, also known by the brand name Narcan. 

Illinois political leaders’ performance on the budget is reminiscent of the losingest team in modern baseball. 

Illinois Issues: Shredding Lincoln

Jun 9, 2016
Cartoon by Chris Britt

 Power struggles and a loss of funding have put The Papers of Abraham Lincoln in peril.

This story is the product of a collaboration with Illinois Times, Springfield’s independent weekly, where Bruce Rushton is staff writer.

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