GHNS Illinois Budget (8/29/08)

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at Please check in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.

If your paper has a story, digest item, opinion piece or standalone photo to share, please e-mail it to


-    Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343,

EMBARGOES: Please note that if a story has an embargo in the short story or editor’s note field, it cannot be published online or in print until that date. If you are unclear about an embargo note, please contact Casey Laughman.


Friday’s page of the day: The Galesburg Register-Mail.


A tie to the Underground Railroad

JACKSONVILLE – If only the antique doorbell on the entryway door of the historic Woodlawn Farm home could trade its sound for talk of things that happened in the foyer during the 19th century. The doorbell — embossed with the date Oct. 23, 1860 — is a reminder of things that happened in the two-story brick home built in 1840 by Michael Huffaker, a pioneer settler who people wouldn’t dream was involved in anything clandestine. Michael and his wife, Frances, were owners of the safe house in the Underground Railroad, a system of cooperation among people in the United States that sheltered slaves escaping to freedom in the north or Canada. By Tamara Browning of the State Journal-Register.


STATE BRIEFS: News from around the state. POSTED.

BUDGET CUTS: Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration is eliminating 450 state jobs, or is it? The administration argues the more accurate number is 325, because a chunk of the laid off employees at one agency will be offered other jobs in "higher need" areas. But the main employees' union argues that small number is misleading and employees still face disruption if they have to take jobs with other duties in different locations. By Ryan Keith of the State Capitol bureau. POSTED.

MCCAIN'S VP: Illinois Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, react to John McCain's surprising pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate. By Bernard Schoenburg of the State Journal-Register. POSTED.

NEW LAWS: The Blagojevich administration expects to act on the 30 or bills still on the governor's desk later today but won't say if he's planning any major rewrites. State Capitol Bureau. POSTED. Will be updated.

For the weekend:

ECONOMIC SCORECARD -- A new in-depth report from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce provides truly mixed results on Illinois' economic health, showing the state is still fairly prosperous compared to other states but struggling to grow economically at the national pace. The chamber calls this the first of ongoing reports to help policymakers determine what needs the most attention over the next few years. By Doug Finke of the State Capitol bureau. For use Sunday.

With a sidebar looking at how the scorecard was put together and how reliable and accurate a picture of the state's economy it really is. This will also have two breakouts looking more closely at the major categories and subcategories of economic indicators with Illinois' national rank and grades.

Statehouse Insider: By Doug Finke of the State Capitol bureau. For use Sunday.

GOP CONVENTION PREVIEW -- Talking with Peoria-area delegates who are heading to the Republican national convention next week in Minnesota to get a sense of what they're looking forward to, whether this is their first convention experience, etc. By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol bureau. For use Sunday

For Monday:

AFSCME CONTRACT -- This Labor Day, thousands of state workers are finishing a vote on their proposed new contract with the Blagojevich administration. But some lawmakers are frustrated that they don't get to see the details of the agreement before it's finalized, even though they're the ones who approve the money for the deal.  By Doug Finke of the State Capitol bureau.

State Capitol Notebook: By the State Capitol bureau.

For Tuesday:

PAY-TO-PLAY-Q&A -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich's move to greatly expand an ethics reform measure has lawmakers promising to override his changes, but also throws the whole package into limbo. Here's a look at questions and answers about what the governor did with the package and why, and what will happen next. By Ryan Keith of the State Capitol bureau.

Bradley wants cell phones on in case of emergency

PEORIA – Cell phones have typically been a classroom no-no, but Bradley University is asking its faculty and staff members to keep them turned on in class to ensure student safety. By Kevin Sampier of the Peoria Journal Star.

Start of football season means start of band season, too

CHILLICOTHE – The drill is "jazz run," and Rob Wolter's got to cover about 10 yards in four steps. If the formation is out of whack, it could cost Illinois Valley Central points. This is marching band, but for some students, it's just as intense and competitive as football. By Drew McDowell of the Peoria Journal Star.


Businesses, social services worry about ripple effect from state cuts

ROCKFORD – Oregon shop owner Jan Prose fears that the Blagojevich administration’s plan to lay off hundreds of state workers and close nearly two dozen state parks will cripple her business. Prose’s TJ’s Bait and Canoe Rental in Oregon along the Rock River is smack in the middle of two state parks that would close to the public Nov. 1: Lowden State Park and Castle Rock State Park, which combined drew nearly 414,900 visitors to Ogle County in 2007. By Jeff Kolkey of the Rockford Register Star.

Holiday driving screeches to a halt

PEORIA – Birmingham, Iowa, resident Jim Gengler had a travel decision to make. Thursday afternoon he was pumping $3.70 a gallon gasoline into his silver Hyundai Sante Fe at Beachler's Service Center in Peoria. Oregon or central Illinois? Central Illinois or Oregon? Guess where he decided to vacation?

Rental companies driving Caliber sales

ROCKFORD – When it was introduced in 2006, the Dodge Caliber was so hot that buyers sometimes waited two to three months for the Belvidere-made sporty crossover. But the craze faded. And with the auto industry struggling to find U.S. buyers, Chrysler LLC sold more Calibers to fleet customers — 28,256 — than to the general public — 21,682 — in the first six months of the year. By Alex Gary of the Rockford Register Star.


Injuries lead to fitness innovation

ROCKFORD – Kelly Engaldo’s quest for a good workout has taken her further than most, all the way to becoming part of the fitness industry. Her route to becoming the inventor and marketer of EZ Swimmer, an aquatic resistance-training tool, was marked by health problems. By Mike DeDoncker of the Rockford Register Star.

Brothers use Internet to share strength-training knowledge

ROCKFORD – Josh and Tyler Fagan are former local football stars, teachers, coaches and workout fanatics. They’re ready to try their hand at becoming Internet entrepreneurs. The brothers, both of whom were ALL-NIC-9 performers at Rockford Boylan in the 1990s, have launched a group of Web site products designed to market their knowledge of strength training to everyone from beginning exercisers to serious athletes. By Mike DeDoncker of the Rockford Register Star.


BRITT: Toon on the Blagojevich-Madigan hugfest in Denver.

BONUS BRITT: Toon on McCain’s choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. Will be posted this evening.

WOOD ON WORDS: Using the wrong word? Consider yourself busted.

Editorial: Pay attention to Pakistan's political problems

Imagine if Republicans and Democrats in Congress forged an alliance and pressured President Bush into resigning. Then, days later, Democrats got fed up with the GOP and quit the government - leaving the nation, and the rest of world, wondering what would happen next in the power struggle. Sound far-fetched? That's pretty much what transpired over the past couple weeks in Pakistan. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.

Editorial: Reality hits in wake of hugs

On Wednesday in Denver, it was all hugs and warmth among Illinois Democrats. On Thursday the fantasy ended as word arrived of layoffs and closings of state parks and historic sites because of budget troubles rooted in the intraparty war among the state’s top Democrats. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.

Editorial: Give them a hug; nothing else has worked in Illinois

Hugs have been credited with preventing aging, raising IQ, easing depression and boosting the immune system. There may be a couple of other benefits, but we forgot because we haven’t gotten enough hugs. Illinois politicians don’t have that problem. Witness the hug fest that went on Wednesday, started by the Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. An editorial from the Rockford Register Star.


Illini get early chance to prove last year's success was no fluke

ST. LOUIS – After making a big move last fall, No. 20 Illinois and No. 6 Missouri are back for more when the two teams meet at the Edward Jones Dome Saturday in the Arch Rivalry -- football's version of the Braggin' Rights game -- that's gone prime time. By John Supinie. With preview capsule.

Quick Shots: Bears’ defensive struggles put Babich on the spot

Bob Babich looks like the new Rex Grossman, the fall guy for anything that goes wrong for the Bears. Chicago’s defensive coordinator is not just Lovie Smith’s friend; the players like him, too. But will they play for him? The defense fell apart last year, but it was hamstrung by injuries and a turnover-prone offense. The defense had no excuses this preseason, yet looked worse than ever and fans and media are already pointing fingers at Babich. Also includes items on the LPGA requiring players to learn English and a 9-year-old pitcher in Connecticut deemed too good to play. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star. For use Sunday.

ILLINOIS-MISSOURI: John Supinie and Mike Nadel will be writing from Saturday’s Illinois-Missouri game in St. Louis. Game time is 7:30 p.m. Story and column will be posted about 10:30 p.m. and updated. Will include report card.

For Monday: Analysis of the Illinois-Missouri game. A look back and a look ahead. Will be posted Sunday evening.