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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Guy Sternberg

In the 1800s, Illinois’ oak forests once accounted for 60 percent of the state’s tree population. Today, they comprise only 5 percent and are being supplanted by native maple trees and several invasive species.

Income tax space on a Monopoly game board
StockMonkeys.com

Commentary — Let’s be blunt: Illinois needs higher taxes.

That statement might come as a shock to citizens under the illusion that all would be well, if state leaders would just cut all the wasteful spending out of the state budget. 

Crayons and children's books
Donnie Nunnley

Limits on who is eligible for this Welfare-to-Work program sparked intense debate in Springfield.  But the fight isn’t over. 

Tom Davidson / Creative Commons via flickr.com/88100135@N02

The Donald's stance on immigration has kept him atop the polls, but it presents dangers for Republicans in a state with a growing Latino electorate.

Illinois Issues: Urban Flooding

Sep 10, 2015
Center for Neighborhood Technology

Heavier rainfalls and sprawling development have left outdated sewers struggling to keep water out of streets, businesses and homes. 

Photograph by Yoshiko Dart / Access Living

Twenty-five years after the landmark federal law, people with disabilities in Illinois still have trouble getting hired.

handshake
www.flazingo.com

Columnist Charlie Wheeler proposes a way out of the current stalemate in state government.

Illinois Issues: Congressional Exploits

Aug 20, 2015
Aaron Schock
Aaron Schock / Instagram

Antics like sexual misconduct, theft and ethical indiscretions have landed Illinois' representatives in trouble for decades.

TaxCredits.net

Illinois' leaders have yet to present a plan for a balanced budget. The longer they wait, the harder the task will be. 

Should criminals bear the cost of their own rehabilitation?

Illinois Issues: The State's Climate Is Changing

Jul 30, 2015
Patty Sullivan / WUIS - Illinois Issues

Illinois'  future summers could be as hot as Texas.

Chad Kainz

The state may still be far from a budget deal, but the General Assembly was able to pass several criminal justice reforms in the spring legislative session.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

News Analysis — Six months into the new administration, we finally have a sense of what Gov. Bruce Rauner’s top priority really is.

It has been a big year for Illinois Issues. Last spring, the magazine merged with Springfield NPR affiliate WUIS. The combination brought with it several opportunities.

Picture of Zylinska family
Magdelina Zylinska

Nearly half of Illinois children in households headed by single women live in poverty — compared with just over a quarter of children in households headed by single men.

Illinois Issues: The Governor's Money

Jul 9, 2015
Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Technically, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s election victory on November 4, 2014, marked the end of his first political campaign. But in some ways that campaign has never stopped.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

Over the past few months I have worked on a story about what it's like to be transgender, especially for those who do not have the privilege of fame and plenty of resources. For many, being transgender comes with stigma and discrimination in just about every facet of life.

Cortlon Cofield posed with his sister Chloe at his graduation last May.
Cprtlon Cofield

Cortlon Cofield said Thursday nights were always special during his freshman year at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. That’s because Thursdays were "Food for the Soul" night in the Florida Avenue Residence Hall (known as FAR).

Car mounted license plate reader
Garrett Brnger / WUIS / Illinois Issues

It doesn’t take much time at all, fractions of a second, to be marked and mapped, recorded and reported.

The automatic license plate reader cameras don’t look like much — just a pair of strobe lights on the back of a squad car, or maybe a cartoon character, depending on whom you ask.

Lloyd Karmeier
Brian Mackey / WUIS

No justice of the Illinois Supreme Court has lost a retention election since the up-or-down system was put in place 50 years ago. Last fall, Justice Lloyd Karmeier came close. He squeezed into another decade on the bench with just 2,921 votes to spare — less than eight-tenths of a percentage point above the required 60 percent threshold. His brush with late retirement — Karmeier turned 75 in January — was brought about by a nasty, last-minute advertising blitz for which the judge was ill-prepared.

Jamey Dunn headshot
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

January marks a new phase in our journalism.  Due to the merger between WUIS and Illinois Issues, we now have a number of journalists that enable reporting on a beat model.  A beat allows a reporter to learn events and people more thoroughly than general assignment reporting.  Each reporter is focusing on key issues in the state.  We're calling it the "Illinois Issues Initiative."  Here are the beats:

ILLINOIS ECONOMY
Bill Wheelhouse

Ed Wojcicki
WUIS/Illinois Issues

It's because of legislative sessions like the one just starting that our founders and the university knew how much our state needs Illinois Issues.

The focus on legislative redistricting will drip with partisanship, and some people might consider that dreadful. I don't. What's so wrong about partisanship affecting what we philosophically revere as a political process? On the other hand, legislators will consider important issues besides new maps this spring. And our staff will be on top of all of them.

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