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Thursday, 04 July 2013 03:13

Ryan "wonderful" as home confinement ends

   A cheerful, joking George Ryan says he feels "wonderful" after being released Wednesday from home confinement.

   The former Illinois governor spoke outside his home in Kankakee, saying he felt good, physically and mentally.  

   The day marked the end of more than five years in federal custody for corruption.  In January, the 79 year old was released from an Indiana prison and moved to confinement at his home.

   Asked what he's doing now, Ryan says he's writing a book, but didn't elaborate.

Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A bipartisan group of Illinois lawmakers tasked with pension reform will meet in Springfield on the day before a special legislative session is convened.

   Senate Democrats say the 10-member committee will meet Monday. The House and Senate are scheduled to convene Tuesday to consider Gov. Pat Quinn's amendatory veto on concealed carry legislation.

   While Quinn originally called the Legislature back July 9 to deal with pensions, it is unlikely the issue will be voted on by that deadline.

   Committee members met last week in a grueling five-hour public session where little was resolved. They are scheduled to meet again Wednesday.  Members say they are hopeful progress is being made, but legislation has yet to be drafted.

   Illinois' worst-in-the-nation unfunded pension liability hovers around $100 billion.

 
Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois finished the fiscal year on Sunday $6.1 billion in the red.

But Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka said Monday that the backlog of unpaid bills to schools, agencies, hospitals and businesses is expected to grow another $1.4 billion by next month.

The state collected $1.3 billion in unexpected tax revenue this spring from residents selling assets before new tax laws took effect.

Topinka says putting that money towards unpaid bills allowed the state to end the fiscal year in a better position than it otherwise would have.

However, she is warning that the windfall is a one-time occurrence and it does nothing to address the state's budget problems.

The comptroller's office estimates unpaid bills will rise to $7.5 billion in August and to nearly $9 billion by December.

 

Published in Local News

UPDATE:

Friends and family of the teen found dead in a Columbia, Illinois house yesterday, held a prayer service last hour.

17-year-old Erin Schneider was found dead during the investigation into a missing person report. The Major Case Squad has taken over the investigation and say an autopsy is planned for today. Investigators hope exam will shed light on what killed Schneider.

No arrests have been made in the case.

 

An autopsy will be performed later today on a teenage girl whose body was found in a Columbia home Thursday.  

   Major Case Squad Deputy Commander Thomas Coppotelli says police have identified the victim as 17 year old Erin Schneider of Columbia.   Schneider's body was discovered by Columbia Police in a home in the 200 block of Riebeling.  Schneider had been reported missing earlier in the day.  

   Columbia Police Chief won't speculate as to how Schneider died, saying an autopsy will be performed later today.  

   The major case squad is investigating another crime scene in connection with the teen's death, but has not identified that location.  

   Police say there have been no arrests, but police say they are questioning two people.

   Grief counselors will be on hand Friday morning at Columbia High School.  Students, teachers and friends of the victim can speak with counselors starting at 9 a.m.

   There will also be a non-denominational prayer service Friday at noon at Immaculate Conception Church on Quarry Rd. in Columbia for Erin Schnieder.

 
Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - Members of a bipartisan panel tasked with coming up with a plan to address Illinois' pension crisis don't all agree with Gov. Pat Quinn's July 9 deadline to report back with a solution.

Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul says it could take longer than that. He spoke to reporters Thursday before the panel's first public hearing. He says another hearing will take place next week.

The 10-member panel was formed after a special session this month. Both chambers remain divided and the group has been charged with finding compromise.

Republican Sen. Mat Murphy says July 9 is a reasonable target.

Six Democrats and four Republicans are on the committee.

Illinois has the worst state pension shortfall nationwide, largely due to lawmakers skipping or shorting payments to public-employee retirement funds.

 
Published in Local News

ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll decide on a concealed carry bill in a "very reasonable period of time" as the state faces a court-mandated deadline next month.

Lawmakers have sent the Chicago Democrat a bill that outlines rules for who can carry.

Illinois had the nation's last ban on concealed weapons in public. But a federal appeals court ruled it unconstitutional. Lawmakers have until July 9 to comply.

Twenty-three Senate Democrats sent Quinn a letter last week urging him to make his intentions known soon. They're worried they won't have enough time to figure out next steps if he vetoes the bill.

Quinn told reporters Tuesday that it's a very complex and long bill and he wants a thorough review.

Several counties are refusing to uphold the state's ban.

Published in Local News

MONTICELLO, Ill. (AP) — The roster is growing of counties where prosecutors won't charge people with breaking the state's law banning concealed weapons.

The Decatur Herald and Review reports that Piatt County State's Attorney Dana Rhoades says she is through prosecuting because a federal court has deemed the state's law unconstitutional. And in Macon County, the paper reports that State's Attorney Jay Scott says people with valid concealed carry permits from another state will be allowed to have concealed weapons in the county.

Prosecutors in other counties, including Madison, Peoria, Randolph, Tazewell and White counties have already said they won't enforce the law. It's a clear signal of the growing impatience with Governor Pat Quinn, who has not yet signed a concealed carry bill that state lawmakers approved last month.

Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, IL (AP) - Doctors providing primary care in Illinois can get higher Medicaid reimbursement rates through the end of 2014.

   Illinois officials are reminding doctors to sign up online for the higher rates, which are expected to increase by an average of 93 percent. If doctors sign up by June 30 they can get reimbursed at the higher rate retroactively to the beginning of this year.

   Julie Hamos is director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. She says the temporary raise should help increase doctors' participation in Medicaid.

   That's important because thousands of uninsured Illinois residents will be newly eligible for Medicaid in 2014.

   The pay increase for primary care was authorized by the Affordable Care Act.

 

Published in Local News

The jobless rates in Missouri and Illinois are moving in opposite directions.

Despite adding 4,600 jobs in May, Missouri's rate climbed to 6.8 percent from 6.6 percent in April. For the first time in several months, the government sector added jobs.

In Illinois, the unemployment rate fell in May to 9.1 percent. It was the second straight monthly drop after a series of increases earlier this year. State officials says that May's decrease was due in part to gains in construction employment.

Illinois' jobless rate still remains much higher than the 7.6 nationwide unemployment rate for May that was reported earlier this month.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois lawmakers have convened a special session in Springfield, where they're expected to move ahead with plans to form a committee to deal with pensions.

Moving to committee requires a vote by both the House and Senate.

Gov. Pat Quinn met separately with Democratic and Republican legislative leaders Wednesday morning.

Republican House Leader Tom Cross says the governor wants to move ahead quickly so pension reform can be voted on by early July in another special session.

House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton each would get three appointees to the 10-member committee. Cross and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (rah-DOH'-nyoh) each would get two.

Illinois' $97 billion unfunded pension liability is the worst in the nation.

 

Published in Local News

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