Get the latest news from around Illinois.
The Center Square: As Illinois plans 2024 budget, pension debt looms
The state of Illinois will be working on its 2024 budget in the coming weeks, and some are suggesting significant changes to address the state’s unfunded pension liability.
The state has until the end of spring session to approve a budget that is set to begin July 1.
Chicago Tribune: Declining enrollment, empty schools, union battles: Mayoral candidates grapple with big challenges in Chicago Public Schools
The auto shop in West Rogers Park resembled a classroom preparing for the first day of school when mayoral hopeful Brandon Johnson joined educators there recently to discuss the future of Chicago schools.
Fresh pastries on a table welcomed the crowd, nearly all Chicago Teachers Union members, and the walls were adorned with long, bright scrolls of paper for a brainstorming activity. In a corner, children played on iPads and rode bikes.
Chicago Sun-Times: Utility shutoffs for nonpayment soar across Illinois and the Chicago area
Chicago-area electricity and gas suppliers are among national leaders in cutting off customers for nonpayment, with the situation a sign of “utility corruption” in Illinois, according to a report issued Monday by three groups critical of the fossil fuel industry.
The report cited ComEd and Nicor Gas as extreme examples of ordering more shutoffs in 2022 compared with 2021. It said ComEd canceled service for 225,827 accounts through October of last year, up 27% from the same 10 months in the prior year.
WTTW: Chicago Rolls Out Administrative Debt Relief Program
The city of Chicago’s latest phase in debt relief sets its sights on administrative debt, the sort of debt incurred by tickets for noise violations or littering.
The standard Administrative Debt Relief program is in place through March 31. Individuals and businesses can pay off their original fine amount, and the city will waive any penalties or fees that have accrued since the ticket was first issued. No application or income information is required for this program.
State Journal-Register: Income tax credits abound in early bills introduced to Illinois General Assembly
Early into the spring session of the 103rd Illinois General Assembly, there have been few votes on legislative matters but plenty of new bills have been introduced.
As of Friday, there were 1,690 bills introduced from both chambers – 156 in the state Senate and 1,534 in the House. A common thread in the bills was income tax credits applying to a wide spectrum of eligible taxpayers, state agencies. and departments.
Chicago Tribune: Gov. J.B. Pritzker has vowed to bring preschool to every Illinois child. That’s easier said than done.
In his second inaugural address this month, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker promised to “make preschool available to every family throughout the state” — a feat that will require solutions to staffing shortfalls, school capacity limitations and an increase to the state’s nearly $600 million early childhood education block grant program.
Providing free preschool “for everyone who wants it” will “require a multiyear approach to funding,” a Pritzker spokesperson said, adding that the governor’s administration will be “working closely … with legislators, advocates, and other stakeholders on this in the years to come.”