Illinois Budget 3.26.09

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.

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SCREENCAST: Searching for stories, photos and other content in Zope.

News Service localization tip: Gift shop owners get by despite economic downturn.


QUINN INTERVIEW: Gov. Pat Quinn visited The State Journal-Register editorial board for a discussion of his state budget plan and other issues. By Ryan Keith of the State Capitol Bureau.


State Briefs. News from around the state.

Million-dollar appropriation for Lincoln law office questioned

SPRINGFIELD – A $1 million appropriation for the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices in Springfield, revealed in Gov. Pat Quinn’s capital budget for the 2010 fiscal year, has raised eyebrows among supporters of other state-owned historic sites that have been closed since late last year because of budget cuts. However, state officials overseeing the law office site, at the southeast corner of the Old State Capitol Plaza, say the $1 million falls under an entirely different funding category that can’t be used to pay for day-to-day operating expenses. By Pete Sherman of the State Journal-Register.


Springfield airport still hopes to land Delta

SPRINGFIELD – The announcement last week that Delta Airlines is expanding its Northwest Airlines service at the Bloomington-Normal airport shouldn’t make any difference to efforts to land Delta service at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, Springfield airport officials say. By Chris Dettro of the State Journal-Register.

Organization provides seasonal tax processing work for disabled

GALESBURG – Taxpayers receiving a refund from the state of Illinois this year may be surprised when they put the pre-printed address label on the envelope. The return is sent to a box number in Galesburg. Disabled persons who work for Bridgeway, Inc. are doing the processing work as part of a state contract. Bridgeway is a not-for-profit organization that provides services and employment opportunities for the disabled. By John R. Pulliam of the Galesburg Register-Mail.


Students take spring break to help out

ROCKFORD – Rockford College sophomore David Gray could have returned home for spring break or hit the beach. Instead, the physical education major from Erie in western Illinois traveled 750 miles south to Starkville, Miss., with Habitat for Humanity for his weeklong break from classes. This year, 26 Rockford College students and 11 alumni and staff members participated in the Collegiate Challenge from March 7 to 14. The Habitat-sponsored event is held to provide simple, decent and affordable homes for people in need. By Cathy Bayer of the Rockford Register Star. To localize: Check with local colleges to see if they have students using spring break as a chance to do charitable work.

Doctor's office at high school offers kids a chance at health care

PEORIA – Patients file in throughout the day, many seeking a routine check-up or sports physical, others complaining of the typical symptoms you might expect in a doctor's office: sore throats, ear infection, asthma, migraine headaches. What you wouldn't expect from this health clinic is its location. Converted from two neighboring classrooms, this office is inside Manual High School; the patients are its student body. By Dave Haney of the Peoria Journal Star. Do local schools have in-school health care or plans to offer such?

Actress Rulin goes from Russia to 'High School Musical'

PEORIA – Olesya Rulin's past and present are two very different worlds. Rulin, who played Kelsi Nielsen in Disney's wildly popular "High School Musical" movies, lives in Los Angeles. You'd never guess that she was born in a small, remote village in Russia. Rulin will appear at Saturday’s Peoria Rivermen game to sign autographs and greet fans. Ahead of her appearance, the Peoria Journal Star spoke with Rulin to find out what she's been doing since completing "High School Musical 3," and what she'll be working on down the road. By Danielle Hatch of the Peoria Journal Star.

Squirrel Nut Zippers still zipping right along

PEORIA – It doesn't bother members of the Squirrel Nut Zippers that they got swept up into the "Swing revival" of the 1990s, along with bands like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Atomic Fireballs and Cherry Poppin' Daddies. But that wasn't really what they were striving for. By Danielle Hatch of the Peoria Journal Star.


BRITT: Toon on drugs and guns in Mexico.

Amanda Jacobs: Weathering storms that come our way

The first time that I encountered a river flood warning in the weather forecast, I was worried. After all, I had never lived close to a river before I moved to central Illinois last fall — just in time for the floods in September — so I had no idea what to expect. As I quickly learned, people who live near rivers know exactly what to expect from a flood. And, more importantly, they know how to prepare when the water begins to rise and how to cope until it recedes.

Brian Mackey: Blagojevich shows a knack for talk radio

Five years ago, the late David Foster Wallace wrote a profile of political talk radio host John Ziegler, delving into the peculiarities of the job. “To appreciate these skills and some of the difficulties involved, you might wish to do an experiment,” Wallace wrote. It turns out Rod Blagojevich’s ability to shut out the world and repeat the same talking points — honed over years in politics — are well suited to talk radio demagoguery.

Bernard Schoenburg: Blagojevich’s need for attention trumps good sense

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who refuses to go away, talked about Springfield a bit when he spent a couple of hours Wednesday hosting a talk show on Chicago radio station WLS-AM.

Editorial: Politicians shouldn't gain from constituents' pain

Facing a budget gap of at least $11.5 billion and talk of raising taxes and other draconian measures to balance the state budget, Illinois lawmakers need to lead by example and tighten their own belts. For them that should mean no new raises, none of the cost-of-living adjustments that are traditionally doled out each year for members of the Legislature, for statewide officeholders and for top workers at state agencies. For those who haven't noticed, this state is drowning in a tsunami of red ink, and spending needs to be trimmed, not expanded. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.

Editorial: Backup plan for pension changes needed

In four of the last six fiscal years, Illinois has skipped its required pension payments or borrowed money to make them. Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget calls for skipping much of the payment for the fiscal year that starts July 1. If Quinn’s money-saving proposal to reduce pension benefits for future employees hits a wall, a backup could be revising the 1995 law setting a schedule to get pensions 90 percent funded by 2045. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.

Editorial: Look for budget cuts, not increases to taxes

There has been talk for years of increasing income taxes rather than relying so heavily on property taxes. Perhaps shifting some of the burden from property owners to income earners is a fairer way to fund state operations, but now isn’t the best time to try this. An editorial from Suburban Life Publications.



ILLINI BASEBALL: After taking two of three from then-No. 1 LSU earlier this season, Illinois heads into Big Ten play Friday against Michigan State. By John Supinie.