WBEZ | Springfield http://www.wbez.org/tags/springfield Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Charter supporters rally against bills in Illinois legislature http://www.wbez.org/news/charter-supporters-rally-against-bills-illinois-legislature-109990 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_3555.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Hundreds of Chicago charter school parents, students and alums rallied in Springfield Tuesday to oppose legislation they say will hurt charter schools.</p><p>The group started its day with a rally outside U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, with more than 20 tour buses lined up to take them to the capitol. Supporters wore yellow scarves and carried printed signs that read &ldquo;I choose charter.&rdquo;</p><p>Illinois Network of Charter Schools President Andrew Broy addressed parents and others before they departed to join up with supporters from other Illinois communities.</p><p>&ldquo;This is a statewide movement,&rdquo; Broy told the group. &ldquo;We face threats in Springfield that we&rsquo;ve never faced before. There are no fewer than twelve different bills in Springfield designed to limit your right to choose the best school for your student. And we&rsquo;re not going to let that happen.&rdquo;</p><p>Charter advocates planned to pack the capitol rotunda. They said they want state lawmakers to see the faces of charter parents and students, students they say would be hurt if those dozen pending bills are passed into law.</p><p>Some of the key bills being considered:</p><p>-SB2627/HB3754 would get rid of a charter school appeals commission that can approve charter schools even if&nbsp; the local school board denies them.</p><p>-SB3303 would prohibit charters from opening in the same zip code as a&nbsp; closed traditional school.</p><p>-HB4655/SB3004 would force charters to follow&nbsp; the same discipline policies that traditional schools follow.</p><p>-SB3030/HB6005 would forbid charter schools from marketing, prohibit charters from subcontracting with Educational Management Organizations and Charter Management Organizations to operate schools and create a compensation cap for school CEOs.</p><p>A number of the bills were introduced by suburban lawmakers. Their interest in charters was piqued last year when a for-profit company, K12, Inc., proposed opening virtual charter schools in more than a dozen suburban school districts. All the districts&nbsp; rejected the plan. As state law is currently written, the Illinois State Charter Commission could overrule those local districts.</p><p>That happened last year when the charter provider that operates Chicago Math and Science Academy tried to open up two new schools in the city. The school district denied the provider&rsquo;s request to expand, but when the organization appealed, the commission gave the go ahead.<br /><br />Charter advocates say a neutral committee needs to examine the merits of charter proposals, because school boards often have a disincentive&mdash;even if district schools are weak&mdash;to approve charters.<br /><br />Many students and parents at the morning Chicago rally said they were there to support individual schools.&nbsp;</p><p>Nahum Alcantar said he supports charter schools because he thinks his charter school has given him a better education than a public school could have. Alcantar, a senior at Chicago Math and Science Academy, went to Kilmer Elementary, a CPS neighborhood school, before enrolling at the charter.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been to a charter school and I&rsquo;ve been to a public school and based on my experience &hellip; charter schools can ... provide the same amount of education that public schools can,&rdquo; Alcantar said. &ldquo;From the schools that I went (to) and compared to the charter school that I go (to)&nbsp; now I&rsquo;ve gotten a really better education.&rdquo;</p><p>Many also said they believe their charter schools are underfunded relative to traditional Chicago Public Schools.&nbsp; But the school district says charters and other schools get exactly equal funding.<br /><br />Although it has been a complaint from charter opponents, many rallying parents said they see no connection between charter schools opening and traditional schools closing</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not making that school worse, we&rsquo;re not making it a bad school. If they can&rsquo;t get the grades or what they need then they should close,&rdquo; said charter parent Amber Mandley. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not our (fault) it&rsquo;s happening, just because we want to keep our schools running doesn&rsquo;t mean we&rsquo;re trying to close CPS schools.&rdquo;</p><p>Ebony Edwards-Carr, who like Mandley has children at the Chicago International Charter School in Bucktown, said the day &ldquo;is about uniting&rdquo; parents, charter school or otherwise.<br />&nbsp;<br />The Chicago Teachers Union supports many of the bills on the table.</p><p>Its membership is threatened by charter school expansion; as charters expand and traditional schools close, Chicago Teachers Union&rsquo;s membership is dwindling. Charter teachers are not allowed to be represented by the CTU.<br /><br />Stacy Davis Gates, CTU&rsquo;s political director, said suburban districts are looking at Chicago as&nbsp; a &ldquo;cautionary tale&rdquo; where &ldquo;neighborhood schools have been chased out by charters.&rdquo; Gates said the state needs to &ldquo;close some of these loopholes&rdquo;&nbsp; in state charter law.</p><p>She said the bills being considered will bring more transparency and accountability to charter schools.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>. Linda Lutton is WBEZ&rsquo;s education reporter, follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 15:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/charter-supporters-rally-against-bills-illinois-legislature-109990 Quinn predicts radical budget cuts without revenue http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-predicts-radical-budget-cuts-without-revenue-109918 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/quinn_budget.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn wants to make the state&#39;s temporary income tax increase permanent to prevent &quot;extreme and &quot;radical&quot; budget cuts.</p><p>The Chicago Democrat also said during his annual budget speech Wednesday he wants to give homeowners a $500 annual property tax refund.</p><p>The speech comes as the state faces dire financial problems and Quinn embarks on what&#39;s anticipated to be a difficult re-election bid against Republican businessman Bruce Rauner.</p><p>Quinn proposed maintaining the state&#39;s income tax increase, saying that it&#39;ll be a &quot;real challenge.&quot; The increase rolls back next year, leaving a $1.6 billion revenue dip.</p><p>Quinn says extending the increase is a better long-term solution.</p><p>Illinois has billions in unpaid bills, a low credit rating and uncertainty with its pension debt.</p></p> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 12:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-predicts-radical-budget-cuts-without-revenue-109918 Morning Shift: Foreclosures and politics http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-06-19/morning-shift-foreclosures-and-politics-107770 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS4474_Springfield-scr_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Foreclosures have been an issue for some time now. But what are a your rights if you are living in a foreclosed apartment? And Springfield has gone into a special session. What are the implications of the decisions which could be reached?</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-foreclosures-and-politics.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-foreclosures-and-politics" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Foreclosures and politics " on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Wed, 19 Jun 2013 13:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-06-19/morning-shift-foreclosures-and-politics-107770 Afternoon Shift: Khaled Hosseini, independent film and Illinois Senate deadlines http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-28/afternoon-shift-khaled-hosseini-independent-film-and-illinois <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/khaled.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Khaled Hosseini talks about the themes of morality and human relationships in his new book. How difficult is it to make an independent film in Chicago? Filmmaker Aemilia Scott and director of the Midwest Film Festival, Mike McNamara answer. WBEZ reporter Tony Arnold gives an update on Springfield.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-khaled-hosseini-independent-films.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-khaled-hosseini-independent-films" target="_blank">View the story "Afternoon Shift: Khaled Hosseini, independent film and Illinois Senate deadlines" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Tue, 28 May 2013 10:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-28/afternoon-shift-khaled-hosseini-independent-film-and-illinois Afternoon Shift: Springfield tactics, Monsanto and 2 Chicago cops fired http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-14/afternoon-shift-springfield-tactics-monsanto-and-2-chicago-cops <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/aspic.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On today&#39;s show, Niala is joined by reporters Tony Arnold and Kristen McQueary to talk legislative tactics in Illinois. Food expert Monica Eng weighs in on the Monsanto case. WBEZ&#39;s Chip Mitchell discusses the firing of two Chicago police officers for conduct captured on a 2011 gang video. <script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-tactics-in-springfield-monsanto-an.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/afternoon-shift-tactics-in-springfield-monsanto-an" target="_blank">View the story "Afternoon Shift: Tactics in Springfield, Monsanto and 2 Chicago cops" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p></p> Tue, 14 May 2013 11:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-05-14/afternoon-shift-springfield-tactics-monsanto-and-2-chicago-cops Frustrated Illinois lawmakers pitch pension fix http://www.wbez.org/news/frustrated-illinois-lawmakers-pitch-pension-fix-104197 <p><p>A group of Illinois legislators is introducing a new way to start fixing the state&rsquo;s massively under-funded pension system.</p><p>For the better part of 2012, Illinois politicians have been talking about the state&rsquo;s now $96 billion unfunded pension liabilities in drastic terms. It was no different at a Wednesday morning news conference.</p><p>&ldquo;Without some changes, Illinois will be sent into fiscal oblivion,&rdquo; Democratic State Rep. Elaine Nekritz said. Nekritz chairs the Personnel and Pensions Committee in the House.</p><p>Nekritz is proposing a new measure taking bits and pieces of other proposals that have already been talked about including the controversial shifting of pension costs from the state to local school districts to pay teachers&rsquo; retirements, something many Republicans oppose because they say it will cause local property taxes to go up.</p><p>&ldquo;There will be stakeholders that say that it doesn&rsquo;t go far enough. There will be stakeholders that say it&rsquo;s unconstitutional, it goes too far, in which case I would agree with Goldilocks that maybe this is the one that&rsquo;s just about right,&rdquo; Nekritz said.</p><p>Republican State Rep. David Harris from Chicago&rsquo;s Northwest suburbs joined them in support of the plan.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m reflecting my district. I&rsquo;m not reflecting my leadership in any way here,&rdquo; Harris said.</p><p>Harris is breaking from Republican leadership in supporting the cost shift proposal. Harris said schools in his district can afford to take on those costs.</p><p>House Republican Leader Tom Cross said he met with the governor&rsquo;s office a few times during the veto session to talk pensions, but expects the debate to continue until lawmakers return in January.</p><p>Legislators also have to consider whether an agreed-upon solution would survive a legal challenge from labor groups. Lawmakers could address the matter as early as January.</p></p> Wed, 05 Dec 2012 08:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/frustrated-illinois-lawmakers-pitch-pension-fix-104197 Speaker Madigan drops cost shift for pension plan http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice/speaker-madigan-drops-cost-shift-pension-plan-99675 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/madigan speaker - AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>After a long, frustrating day Wednesday, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan could be making way for public pension reform in Illinois.</p><p>Earlier this week, Madigan sponsored a pension reform bill in the House (SB 1673) that would have suburban and downstate school districts pick up the pension costs for their teachers.&nbsp;That could have shifted billions onto local tax rolls. That worried school districts statewide as to how they were going to pay for such an item.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that there ought to be a shift in the responsibility for the normal cost so that going forward the people making the spending decisions will be called upon to pay the bills,&rdquo; Madigan said on the House floor after a long day of debate and heated discussions on pension reforms with Gov.Pat Quinn and House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego.</p><p>Madigan knew Cross would be opposed to putting teacher pension payments on suburban and downstate districts.</p><p>And he was: Cross threatened to block passage of the state&rsquo;s 2013 budget if Madigan didn&rsquo;t move away from his cost-shift provision.</p><p>&quot;Let&#39;s pass a pension reform bill without a cost shift, tonight or tomorrow morning and be done with it,&quot; Cross said on the House floor late Wednesday. &quot;We&#39;ll get the budget done, we&#39;d have done Medicaid, we&#39;ve done pensions, we&#39;ve done retiree healthcare, a successful session with bipartisian collaborative effort and be done with it. My question to you (Madigan) is why not? Why not do it?&quot;</p><p>Cross added, &quot;We know what it takes to have a pension bill. We know what will pass the House, what will pass the Senate, what the governor will sign and we can do it without the cost shift, without the $20 billion property tax increase on downstate, suburban schools.&quot;</p><p>But &nbsp;Madigan seemed shocked to learn that his Democratic teammate Gov. Pat Quinn opposed his cost-shift move as well.</p><p>&ldquo;I was surprised that the governor disagreed with me on the issue. He agrees with the Republicans,&rdquo; Madigan said.</p><p>With that, Madigan said he intends to remove his name as the House sponsor for the bill.&nbsp;&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve arranged with the clerk that the sponsorship of Senate Bill 1673 will be changed from me to Mr. Cross,&rdquo; Madigan said.</p><p>A House executive committee will take up the issue this morning, the last official day of the Spring legislative session. &nbsp;Bills remain to be considered and passed to stabilize the state&rsquo;s collapsing pension and Medicaid programs.</p><p>Madigan&rsquo;s shift was hardly the only thing that happened on a marathon Wednesday.</p><p>&bull; The House adopted a bill to keep the state&rsquo;s only super-max prison open. Tamms, in far southern Illinois, will be reorganized to become a medium-security prison to allow more inmates to be housed at the facility. Gov. Quinn is proposing closing several correctional facilities to save money. The House is trying to save unionized correctional jobs.</p><p>&bull; The Illinois House approved a plan to drop campaign-donation limits in races where super PACs jump in with big money.&nbsp;The legislation would apply in races where an independent super PAC spends more than $100,000 supporting a legislative candidate or $250,000 supporting a statewide candidate. If that happens, then the opposing candidate would not have to follow the state&#39;s new&nbsp;limits on donations. The bill passed 63-55 Wednesday in the Illinois House and now goes to the Senate.</p><p>Government watchdog groups fear this will create a loophole for&nbsp;big money to pour into political races. But House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie says it would let candidates &quot;fight fire with fire&quot; if they&#39;re targeted by super PACs with deep pockets.</p><p>The Illinois House also approved a measure by state Rep. Marcus Evans (D-Chicago) to ban landfills in Cook County. The bill moves to Gov. Quinn for his signature.</p><p>The state Senate approved a bill to allow the sale of Powerball lottery tickets to be sold over the internet. The measure heads to the governor.<br /><br />House Democrats also moved forward their own version of a new budget set at $33.7 billion that features deep cuts to schools, public universities and health care services for the poor. In the end, the state will still end up spending $300 million more than in the current budget, but is still $4.4 million under the cap agreed up in a spending resolution, according to Madigan.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 31 May 2012 03:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice/speaker-madigan-drops-cost-shift-pension-plan-99675 Emanuel presents pension problems to Illinois legislators http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/emanuel-presents-pension-problems-illinois-legislators-98946 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rahm_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel went before Illinois lawmakers in Springfield Tuesday to help him get a handle on souring pension costs.</p><p>Just like the state of Illinois, the City of Chicago is reeling with billions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities for its workers. Emanuel said a fix is needed or property taxes could skyrocket in coming years to pay the estimated $20 billion debt.</p><p>Emanuel took his case before a House panel looking into pension reform. He's calling for a pause on cost of living increases for 10 years for current retirees.</p><p>"These increases present the biggest potential burden on our taxpayers and the single greatest threat to the retirement security of our present public employees," Emanuel said at the hearing. "We need to hit the pause button so the entire system can catch its breath. By doing this, we will stop digging a deeper hole and allow the reforms we put in place to take hold."</p><p>Emanuel said he knows his proposals will not sit well with many retirees and others paying into the system.<br>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 08 May 2012 08:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/emanuel-presents-pension-problems-illinois-legislators-98946 Indicted lawmaker plans return to Springfield http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/indicted-lawmaker-plans-return-springfield-98161 <p><p>The lawyer for indicted Illinois state Rep. Derrick Smith says the Chicago Democrat plans to return to work in Springfield despite numerous calls from him to step down.</p><p>Victor Henderson told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Smith "takes his responsibility as a state representative very seriously" and that Smith told him he'll return to the General Assembly shortly.</p><p>A federal grand jury indicted Smith Tuesday for allegedly taking a $7,000 bribe in exchange for endorsing a daycare's state grant application. The incident was part of a sting, and Smith faces 10 years in prison if convicted.</p><p>A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald declined comment.</p><p>Politicians including Gov. Pat Quinn have asked Smith to resign. A Chicago alderman said this week Smith should quit or go to work.</p></p> Thu, 12 Apr 2012 09:29:50 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/indicted-lawmaker-plans-return-springfield-98161 Illinois bill aims to make online dating safer http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice/illinois-bill-aims-make-online-dating-safer-97819 <p><p>State lawmakers in Illinois are trying to make it safer for people to use online dating sites.</p><p>The Decatur <em>Herald &amp; Review</em> <a href="http://bit.ly/Hd94sJ">reported Sunda</a>y that legislation aiming to do that passed the Illinois House last week.</p><p>It would require Internet dating services operating in Illinois to post disclaimers saying whether they conduct background checks on their members.</p><p>The measure is sponsored by state Rep. Michelle Mussman, a Democrat from Schaumburg.</p><p>She says she wants to help Internet users "become more savvy" and protect themselves from online predators.</p><p>Opponents say the bill overreaches. Republican Rep. Jim Durkin of LaGrange says adults should be responsible for their own safety when using such sites.</p><p>The legislation now goes to the Senate.</p></p> Mon, 02 Apr 2012 10:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice/illinois-bill-aims-make-online-dating-safer-97819