Illinois Budget 5.12.09

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at www.gatehousenewsservice.com. Please check www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/news 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 Illinois@gatehousemedia.com.

Contacts:
Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343, claughman@gatehousemedia.com

GATEHOUSE NEWSROOM

Farm Living tab available on the News Service.
http://ghnewsroom.com/article/quarterly-farm-living-tab-available-now-gatehouse-news-service

TODAY’S SPOTLIGHT:

Pekin native blasts off as commander of Atlantis

PEKIN – No matter where they were Monday — from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to right here in Pekin — family and friends of Scott Altman watched in awe as the space shuttle Atlantis launched with their favorite astronaut onboard. Of course, nobody watched as intensely as Altman’s mother and father, Sharon and Fred Altman, who after the launch shared their personal thoughts with the Pekin Times. By Valari Hyatt of the Pekin Times.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1194168387

ILLINOIS NEWS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/news

State Briefs. News from around the state.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1393573937

STATE FIRINGS: House Speaker Michael Madigan says it's time for lawmakers to step in where Gov. Pat Quinn won't and fire up to 3,000 workers appointed or hired by previous governors. But it might not be that simple. An expert lawyer on personnel cases say lawmakers could be asking for legal trouble if the Madigan measure isn't changed, and legislators are looking to narrow down the plan to get at workers who are considered the truly political hires. By Doug Finke of the State Capitol Bureau.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1393574185

FOIA REWRITE: Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office releases a tweaked version of its Freedom of Information Act rewrite, putting in new requirements for commercial requests of public records but also softening some exemptions that let public bodies deny requests. By Eric Naing of the State Capitol Bureau.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1393574131

STATE CAPITOL Q&A:  A closer look at recent drops in electric rates for ComEd and Ameren customers and the role of the fledgling Illinois Power Agency in those decreases. By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol Bureau.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1518876036

MANUFACTURING AID: Manufacturers and lawmakers from around Illinois urge the legislature to restore $2 million cut out of the last state budget for an extension center that helps keep companies going in a bad economy. By Andrew Thomason of the State Capitol Bureau. .
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x529237548

Southern Illinois cleans up after storms

MARION – After the storm, the cleanup work begins. The staff of the Marion Daily Republican spent Monday visiting with Williamson County's citizens documenting progress made on damage from last Friday's storm.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x362994060

ILLINOIS BUSINESS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois_business

Lynxmotion owner finds success with robot kits

PEKIN – Every day, robots leave from a building in Pekin that has no signs or windows. Despite the lack of fanfare, the robot kits made and sold here are shipped all over the world. The kits are the creations of Jim Frye, who started the company, called Lynxmotion, in his basement in 1995.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/news/business/x1993050237

Ford shows off Fusion Hybrid

PEORIA – Even with the weight of the ailing U.S. auto industry riding on its plastic bumpers, Ford Motor Co.'s 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid can get more than 81 miles per gallon. About two weeks ago, drivers trained in mileage-maximizing techniques coaxed 1,446 miles out of a single tank of gas in a Fusion Hybrid during a Washington, D.C., fundraiser. Now Ford operatives are touring the country to show people what a modestly sleek hybrid sedan can do when driven properly. By Terry Bibo of the Peoria Journal Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/news/business/x1194168241

Internet options for communication, paying bills reduce concern about stamp prices

SPRINGFIELD – Springfield resident Amber Shipman wasn’t too upset Monday that the cost to mail a letter had gone from 42 cents to 44 cents. While Shipman still uses the post office to mail letters, she doesn’t use the U.S. mail to pay her bills. Like a growing number of people, she pays her bills online. By John Reynolds of the State Journal-Register.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/news/business/x529236731

ILLINOIS LIFESTYLES
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois_lifestyle

Couple takes advantage of the green side of the sun

PEORIA – For Mike DeWalt, solar power is about much more than payback time. DeWalt, director of investor relations at Caterpillar Inc., evaluates solar in terms of national energy independence. He has dabbled with solar panels at his home for years, but recently he contracted with Bauer Power for a $58,000 solar installation behind his North Peoria home. Company president Mark Bauer thinks it's one of the largest residential solar installations in the state. By Clare Howard of the Peoria Journal Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/features/x1194168308

Can’t beat garlic mustard? Eat it

Garlic mustard is a potted herb brought to the United States from Europe in the 1800s. It has been spreading slowly since then, but has been picking up speed in recent years. It has overrun some Illinois woodlands and is squeezing out spring wildflowers. By Chris Young of the State Journal-Register.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/features/x1518875012/Cant-beat-garlic-mustard-Eat-it

ILLINOIS OPINIONS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/opinions

BRITT: No Britt toon tonight.

Amanda Jacobs: Illinois is becoming Land of Lunatics

If I may channel Jerry Seinfeld for a moment: What’s the deal with Illinois lately? Our lovely state has been in the national spotlight quite a bit over the last few months, and that spotlight has not been a flattering one.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x362993915

Phil Luciano: Dye job leads to hair-raising realization

OK, so I'm a wuss. I make this confession so other menfolk don't end up in my sad predicament: I colored my hair, and now I can't stop.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x342393220

Editorial: Appalling treatment of Afghan women can't persist

As Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai nears the end of his term and prepares to run for re-election, the United States is preparing to deploy an additional 21,000 troops to the chaotic country to quash the resurgent Taliban militants so the Afghan people can strengthen their slowly growing democracy. But as the military does its work to quell the violence, U.S. diplomats and both American and international aid groups need to focus more energy on an equally broad quality-of-life issue: the treatment of Afghanistan's women. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/opinions/editorials/x1393573242

ILLINOIS SPORTS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/sports

ILLINI:

No daily stories planned.