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Now they’re liberals?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

* I don’t dispute any of the numbers in this Tribune editorial that blasts Senate President John Cullerton’s pension reform bill

Madigan’s legislation does require more of government workers than Cullerton’s would. But it also bites a projected $140 billion out of the $380 billion taxpayers now are obligated to pay into the pension funds during the next 30 years. Cullerton’s bill would reduce those payments by a comparatively paltry $46 billion. […]

In preparation for the budget year that begins July 1, lawmakers in the House are considering cutting services, again, for the developmentally disabled. They are considering further reductions to child care programs for low-income families. They might have to cut payments for funerals and burials of those who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Also on the chopping block: schools for the deaf, the blind, the disabled.

It’s a shameful, shameful list, and it doesn’t stop:

The Department of Children and Family Services is being asked to cut more than $107 million — a 15 percent cut in general revenue funding. Yes, the agency that investigates child abuse will once again get slashed. Last year, DCFS cut after-school and summer programs for 1,500 abused and neglected kids. Money for counseling for 300 children who had been adopted through DCFS was eliminated in Cook County. Across the state, 4,000 families identified as at risk of abuse and neglect lost prevention services. In short, Illinois is barely taking care of its most vulnerable.

Money for schools consistently has been cut and will be next year, too. The Illinois State Board of Education has been forced to parcel out minimal resources. Basically, the agency decides which schools to hurt less. Meanwhile, neighboring states are increasing school funding.

OK, I get it. We all get it.

But notice how the Tribune never made those claims about the little school kids and DCFS when it was screaming about how the General Assembly should not raise the income tax rate a few years ago.

When worker pension payments eat into government programs, that’s bad for the children. But cutting many of those same programs beneficial to children in order to avoid an income tax hike? Well, that’s just good government.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


60 Comments
  1. - Demoralized - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 9:35 am:

    If there is one thing the Tribune is good at it’s being consistent about not being consistent.


  2. - Abe the Babe - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 9:39 am:

    Its the same contradiction that can be found in the GOP caucus. Cuts to programs that hurt low-income poor people GOOD, cuts to things that hurt middle income white people (pensions, state employee health insurance,etc.) BAD.


  3. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 9:42 am:

    Just more proof of the structural imbalance between current State revenue and what the programs the State has committed to cost. If anything, this editorial proves the temporary tax increase needs to be made permanent at a higher rate than it is now …


  4. - RNUG Fan - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 9:43 am:

    Its circulation is down to 300,000 and you cant get a copy in Peoria Why does anyone pay attention to them. Who would notice a Koch takeover?
    I saw some bad reporting elsewhere that tried to claim the union no sue promise was broken because the retired teachers were going to sue over any plan. The retired teachers are not a union more great reporting


  5. - Will Caskey - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 9:43 am:

    The Claypool Democrat argument: Shaft the help because that is actually MORE liberal.

    The distinction is that these arguments are only made in the service of reducing net spending soooooooo….


  6. - Anonymous 1 - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 9:44 am:

    And let’s not forget how we all got to this place! Shorting Education is a tradition in Illinois, certainly not something new. Now, everything’s getting less funding. So where did it all go over the decades? That’s the question.


  7. - Frenchie Mendoza - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 9:48 am:

    One thing that’s nagging me is why no one is advocating simply cutting out all pensions? Not cutting them out and replacing them with 401k’s (or whatever) — but simply cutting them out.

    I guess it’s more a though experiment than anything else — but if Madigan is advocating diminishment, why is he not advocating eradicating the pension issue entirely? Or to put it another way — why is a little diminishment okay? Why not just go all the way? And why is no one saying, “Okay, we know we can’t afford this. Let’s just drop the pensions — and not replace them with anything. Let’s just drop them.”

    If the court opens the door for diminishment - isn’t this the logical next step? Simply dropping them entirely and replacing them with nothing? Wouldn’t this save the most money and have the most immediate impact?

    I’m curious about why there seems to be a moral tipping point here. A little is better than all, no? But why? If the government needs police powers suddenly to upend the constitution — why bother to only shave off a little of the pension? Why not simply stop them?


  8. - Wensicia - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 9:50 am:

    I’m surprised; the editorial board usually finds against union workers, like teachers, for the losses suffered by children. Now, they’re actually criticizing state legislators for these cuts?

    Watch them endorse the next Republican candidate for governor on the promise of cutting taxes, though.


  9. - Meaningless - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 9:52 am:

    Whenever I hear the phrase “it’s all about the children” I see the red flag going up and know that’s the end of reasonable discussion. This is just another ploy to play on peoples’ emotions and divert the focus from the real issues. What about the moral issue of supporting the constitution and honoring the pension contract with workers who dedicated their lives earning guaranteed benefits? Does that mean anything anything?


  10. - Will Caskey - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 9:53 am:

    Frenchie I am no expert but I imagine the answer is something like: Finding a legal technicality by which you can actually diminish pensions without doing so in a way that gets you sued does not “open the door” to anything. It just means you’ve found a legal technicality and will now save some money, good job ensue golf clap.

    That doesn’t mean you can then say WOOHOO LET’S JUST TAKE AWAY RETIREMENT.

    Also I don’t think anyone wants to do that.

    It’s almost like you’re making a reductio ad absurdam appeal that is really silly.


  11. - the Patriot - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 9:55 am:

    I am no fan of the Trib, but are we forgetting that Quinn and Madigan flat out lied about the income tax hike. It was supposed to go to pay bills. Instead they used it for pork projects. Sorry, but they just flat out lied and stole 2% of my income to use for election campaigns for dems.

    Don’t forget that Quinn the democrats hammered Brady for saying cut 10% across the board. Quinn took 750K in IEA money an their cuts are at about 15% and counting.

    Madigan and Quinn have chosen to pick and choose who gets cut as a very well thought out plan to keep democrats in power. The reality is schools are getting cut because teachers unions will always vote democrat, period. Other cuts, yes even disabled and little deaf children are going to be cut as a calculated political move by Mike Madigan that it won’t cost him votes.

    This is the genesis of an across the board cut. Everybody hurts the same and you cut politics out of the equation. As a state we decided to let Madigan play politics instead of equal pain for all. Until teachers elect a republican governor and disabled children garner a more powerful lobby, Madigan is going to continue to sweep you to the side.


  12. - Marie - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 9:55 am:

    Maybe the Tribune and other companies with tax breaks could give those up


  13. - dupage dan - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 9:56 am:

    Mr Mendoza, Are you new here? Please explain how we just eliminate the pensions. Please remember that they are enshrined in the state constitution and can not simply be eliminated by popular proclamation. “Hey, let’s see a show of hands” - does not compute.


  14. - Anonymous 1 - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 9:58 am:

    In this blogsite, I’ve often seen it said that we need to stop the blame game and find solutions. Fair enough. But the likes of the Tribbies, Civvies and our corrupt lawmakers never seem to have trouble blaming the constitutionally guaranteed pensions(and those who earned them) for the demise of our state. Their attempt at deflection has worked on some (maybe not so smart or well read), but there needs to be a solution that doesn’t screw the same people who’ve already been screwed by their malfeasance. Neither proposal is acceptable. I don’t want to pay higher taxes but more in taxes needs to be collected to pay for all spent in arears. We all got alot of free stuff, courtesy of public workers. That is a simple fact.


  15. - Frenchie Mendoza - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:01 am:


    It’s almost like you’re making a reductio ad absurdam appeal that is really silly.

    I agree. It seems silly. But it dawned on me that once the door is open, then it’ll never shut — ever. In other words, the moral “we can’t do that — take away pensions? Come on” voice keeps sliding along the fairness continuum toward the “no pensions at all” mark.

    But if Madigan is really gearing up for the police power stuff — “We must take drastic action now” — why is the action not truly drastic? Wouldn’t a court wonder why the action is not more drastic if it’s a true fiscal emergency? Why nudge the fire hose toward the house? Why not lug the darn thing up to the front yard and turn it on full blast?


  16. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:01 am:

    Anonymous 1 @ 9:44 am re

    – So where did it all go over the decades? –

    The money that should have gone into the pension systems was spent on normal state programs because the GA refused to raise taxes to generate revenue equal to expenses.


  17. - Decaf Coffee Party - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:09 am:

    It would be interesting to compile a list of all of the new state-funded programs and pork projects funded after the pension ramp agreement in the mid-1990s. That might offer a clue as to where the money went that was supposed to go into the pension funds.


  18. - redleg - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:13 am:

    Could be wrong, and I usually am, but I think Frenchie’s post about diminishment was sprinkled with a little bit of snark. If I’m wrong then apologies to Frenchie.
    Personally, I see no end to attempts at pension diminishment. After the WEP provision was enacted in mmmmm 1985 I think it was, I thought our pensions would be reasonably safe. But stopping us from “double dipping” wasn’t enough, even though many of us had paid into SS for years and had already had our quarters paid up. I only wish I had paid better attention to all the warning signals. If I’m lucky I’ll live another 10 -15 years and I’ve become convinced that ongoing pension reform is here to stay for the remainder of that time.
    If necessary, I’ll make the sacrifices. But I’m convinced there will be no end to it.


  19. - Will Caskey - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:13 am:

    Frenchie: No, that is not how law works. It’s not a Pandora’s Box. The Supreme Court is not going to say oh well now that you’ve avoided our specific definition of diminishment you can just take away all the pensions.

    Also, as I wrote, no one wants to do that. You’re being silly.


  20. - AFSCME Steward - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:14 am:

    RNUG

    It’s even worse than that. The state kept creating new programs even though there wasn’t enough to pay for those already in existence. Then came the borrowing plans, not to invest in infrastructure, but to pay for the unaffordable programs. When I was merit comp, I was told I wasn’t getting a raise for 4 years so the state could pay for healthcare for kids. Which explains now why I am known as AFSCME Steward.

    “The money that should have gone into the pension systems was spent on normal state programs because the GA refused to raise taxes to generate revenue equal to expenses.”


  21. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    People, stop feeding the troll.

    Move along.


  22. - David Ormsby - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:15 am:

    The editorial is disingenuous because neither pension bill will have any impact on the FYI 2014 budget cuts.


  23. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:19 am:

    AFSCME Steward

    Yes, those new programs became part of “normal state spending” and led to the further abuses you describe.


  24. - Small Town Liberal - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:25 am:

    - hammered Brady for saying cut 10% across the board. -

    I don’t know how many times this has to be explained before you’ll get it. Brady said he could balance the budget with 10% across the board cuts, and no tax increase. That was not, and is not possible. That’s what he was criticized for.


  25. - Bob - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:27 am:

    While we may not be able to dispute the numbers, we should understand them. I have seen numbers starting around $90 billion to the figure cited above, $380 billion. Can not support a position without seeing the assumptions on which these numbers are based. Not sure that the Tribune is a good source for this understanding.


  26. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:33 am:

    I fully expect the Tribune to lose its newfound liberalism again when it comes time to vote on extending the tax increase. The Trib lost their calculators years ago.


  27. - RonOglesby - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:37 am:

    @RNUG

    The money that should have gone into the pension systems was spent on normal state programs because the GA refused to raise taxes to generate revenue equal to expenses.

    Or you could say it the other way

    The money that should have gone into the pension systems was spent on normal state programs because the GA refused to keep spending in line with Tax revenue even during the boom times.


  28. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:42 am:

    Bob @ 10:27 am:

    The $90B or so is what it would cost to pay it all back TODAY given some assumptions about future earnings on the investments, future employee contributions, future state contributions, and future obligations to employees, etc.

    Since we can’t pay it today, the $380B is a best guess (using the same factors) at what we are going to have to pay over the next 30 or 40 years.


  29. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:43 am:

    RonOglesby @ 10:37 am

    That would be another valid way to put it.


  30. - Norseman - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:50 am:

    Tribune credibility is nonexistent.


  31. - Obamas Puppy - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 11:00 am:

    Hypocrites will be hypocrites.


  32. - cassandra - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 11:02 am:

    I don’t think we want to live in a state where there are never any new state programs, or expansion of existing programs to larger groups. The upcoming Medicaid expansion, for example, will be a huge benefit to many Illinoisians. And say what you will about Blago, Allkids helped a lot of families and probably saved a few lives.

    One problem, i think, is that outdated programs are hard to get rid of, as they employ people, either directly by the state or through contracting out the work. Supporters and beneficiaries then make it politically difficult to shut them down or even consolidate them.


  33. - redleg - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 11:03 am:

    “Tribune credibility is nonexistent”.

    Hello Norseman ~
    After reading the Bloomington Pantagraph’s recent editorial about a progressive tax rate, you can add them to the lack of credibility list that the Trib exists on. The hypocrisy of both editorial boards knows no bounds. I really believe both boards intentionally write contradictory columns figuring that their readers aren’t paying any attention to their fence jumping from one editorial to another.


  34. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 11:05 am:

    Odds that the Tribbies will back letting the income tax increases expire without accounting for the lost revenue? Even money.


  35. - Anonymous 1 - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 11:19 am:

    Tribune, Pantagraph…….who are they the mouthpieces for?


  36. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 11:22 am:

    - RonOglesby - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:37 am:

    @RNUG

    The money that should have gone into the pension systems was spent on normal state programs because the GA refused to raise taxes to generate revenue equal to expenses.

    Or you could say it the other way

    The money that should have gone into the pension systems was spent on normal state programs because the GA refused to keep spending in line with Tax revenue even during the boom times.

    - AFSCME Steward - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:14 am:

    RNUG

    It’s even worse than that. The state kept creating new programs even though there wasn’t enough to pay for those already in existence. Then came the borrowing plans, not to invest in infrastructure, but to pay for the unaffordable programs. When I was merit comp, I was told I wasn’t getting a raise for 4 years so the state could pay for healthcare for kids. Which explains now why I am known as AFSCME Steward.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I believe that the GA and the State also get suckered in by Federal dollar matching programs (no good intention goes unfunded). While you do receive additional revenue, the State must also expend funds to receive the match.

    There are also normally additional costs the Feds don’t then pick up like subsidies and maintenance which then become part of the “normal” state funding. It’s like mission creep, only instead of starting out small, it starts out large, gets larger and eventually becomes a millstone around taxpayers neck.


  37. - RonOglesby - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 11:43 am:

    @cassandra
    —I don’t think we want to live in a state where there are never any new state programs, or expansion of existing programs to larger groups.

    One problem, i think, is that outdated programs are hard to get rid of…

    I am no fan of ever expanding government, BUT you are correct here.

    not wanting the government to expand hugely is not the same as not wanting programs and government to do what it needs to do TODAY.

    programs we find valid and need to be expanded should be. BUT that means that other programs, of less importance or no longer timely should be eliminated or reduced and that is the hard part.

    The reality is that government cannot grow faster than the private economy that supports it. If the private economy grows a 2% per year (example) and the gov it supports grows at 3 or 4 % per year, eventually you run out of money IF you dont cut the old stuff out.

    We have to set priorities and we in the US (and in Illinois in particular) are terrible at holding pols accountable and doing that.


  38. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 11:49 am:

    RO,

    Yup, which is why I believe that ALL spending should have a sunset clause in it that actually mandates closing a program with stringent requirements for re-upping the spending, perhaps 60% roll call. We can exclude some programs, such basic services as police and education, if the continuing program has clearly defined parameters for what it is supposed to do, and those exceeded parameters are subject to sunset.


  39. - Craig - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 11:52 am:

    I’m not 100% on this but I believe that the Tribune underwent massive changes after the Sam Zell era. There was an interesting article (actually in the Trib itself) about the horrible wroking atmosphere during that time. See the link below:

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-15/business/ct-biz-trib-series-3-20130115_1_zell-and-michaels-sam-zell-randy-michaels

    I assume that under new ownership, they would have a different editorial board than they did during the pro-Civic Committee Zell era which might explain the inconsistency in their editorials from a few years ago.


  40. - Chris - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 12:20 pm:

    “I have seen numbers starting around $90 billion to the figure cited above, $380 billion. Can not support a position without seeing the assumptions on which these numbers are based.”

    There is NO consistency in how those numbers get used from one source to the next. Makes it near impossible to evaluate.

    “Not sure that the Tribune is a good source for this understanding.”

    I AM sure that the Tribune is NOT even a passable source for that understanding.


  41. - Really - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 12:21 pm:

    @Cincinnatus

    I like that a little. Need to think on it more. I actually think that we either dont assume growth in every budget item every year or we make 0 growth in every program the default and those that grow must be voted on each year… Maybe make it by major departments so its not a vote on every line item.


  42. - Jim - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 12:33 pm:

    Rich, you keep falling all over yourself to pick a fight with the Trib. We get it. You’re right, and they’re stupid, no matter what they say even when you don’t challenge what they say.


  43. - unbiased observer - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 1:22 pm:

    regardless of whether you agree, the tribune represents views of a wide swath of Illinois population across party lines. many democrats and republicans or whatever affiliation feel precisely the same way regarding pension reform and taxes. the tribune does not represent the views of union types and stateworkers well, but you must remember these groups are just a small, however vocal, percentage of the state’s population.


  44. - Anonymous 1 - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 1:23 pm:

    Sometimes it’s not even what the Trib is saying it’s that hysterical whining little girl voice I read in their writing. Other times it’s the scolding “I told you how to do it!” tone that makes even logical arguments a turnoff to this reader. Dropped subscription years ago. Not sorry.


  45. - retired and fed up - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 1:54 pm:

    To me it looks like in order to maybe have to pay entire health insurance premium to have insurance you give up compounded COLA and have a two year freeze as well. Someone please let me know if I misread SBA2.


  46. - redleg - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 1:56 pm:

    @unbiased observer -

    “but you must remember these groups are just a small, however vocal, percentage of the state’s population”.

    Although I’m feeding a…..I will say that in part I agree with part of your post. But let me caution you about something - don’t ever under estimate that vocal group you refer to. It’s larger than you think. Most of us have children and they along with many of us are well educated and well versed as to what is happening right now. Our children as well as ourselves are also voters. It doesn’t make us better….It simply means that overall we are better informed and in tune with politics. We also still believe in law and contract.

    We are a much larger group than you realize and it would be a huge mistake for you to under estimate our numbers.


  47. - justbabs - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 1:58 pm:

    Craig, I do not believe the Editorial Board at the Trib was ever subject to the Zell problems. And if you check the listing, most of the board are and have been the same people. Their dislike of unions, working people and Democrats is a constant. Their total disregard of small business owners to completely suckup to large (big moneyed) corporations is a newer facet.


  48. - Endangered Moderate Species - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 2:26 pm:

    The Trib faces the same challenge as our society.

    We want good paying jobs but we’ll only pay Wal-Mart prices.

    We want good roads, schools and fire protection but we despise property taxes

    We want our teachers to be the best but we don’t want to pay them any more than we have too.

    We want our employers to provide good insurance to us but we don’t want to pay the same for our public workers.

    We want our food at the lowest price but we don’t want farmers to apply new technologies that help achieve those prices.

    We want our lights to turn on when we flip the switch but we don’t want mining, fracking or windmills in our Counties.


  49. - unbiased observer - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 2:58 pm:

    redleg,

    I agree that unions have had disproportionate influence on state politics due to organization. there is no doubt about it.


  50. - redleg - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 3:35 pm:

    ob,
    I am acquainted with thousands of people, their kids and with many, the friends of their kids.

    None of them are union and if they are, it’s a big secret. Neither was I.

    Try again.


  51. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 4:24 pm:

    –I agree that unions have had disproportionate influence on state politics due to organization. there is no doubt about it.–

    Yeah, they’re running the table these days, lol.


  52. - kimocat - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 5:05 pm:

    You would think that the Trib was already owned by the Kochs. Why is it not time to cal for a 20% “haircut” for everyone doing business with the State? The money is not there, right? Probably ought to do the same with all those leased buildings too — can no longer afford the going rate. Just too bad. It’s for the kids.


  53. - Craig - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 5:25 pm:

    justbabs

    Thanks. I wasn’t sure about who was on the editorial board at that time vs. now. I certainly was not defending that paper. Not a fan of the Trib-for several reasons.


  54. - fake county chairman - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 5:43 pm:

    how about their pet projects state grants etc rigged bidding etc its like the foxes in a hen house after they ate all the chickens saying everything is alright


  55. - wishbone - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 7:12 pm:

    “This is the genesis of an across the board cut. Everybody hurts the same and you cut politics out of the equation.”

    Amen, amen, amen.


  56. - reformer - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:23 pm:

    There’s no doubt the Trib opposes extension of the temporary income tax. The loss of $6-7 billion in revenues would surely hit hard schools and the poor.


  57. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:52 pm:

    Patriot, to be fair, all of the income tax increase was never promised to pay off old bills: some of the income tax increase was identified as being targeted to pay off bonds issued to pay off old debt, and the GA refused to authorize the bonds


  58. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:53 pm:

    sorry, 10:52 was me


  59. - Dinosaur - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 10:58 pm:

    If there is ANY legislation that changes my pension, I will write a final letter sarcastically thanking the Tribune. And then I will cancel my subscription.


  60. - carbaby - Wednesday, May 8, 13 @ 11:16 pm:

    So the $25 million gets restored in January- yee giveth then taketh away. Now this time it’s about $10 million more than last year. Of course none of this has prevented the unprecedented hiring of non-union contract staff(from a past Administration) as well as creating the most layers of new Associate Deputies, Assistant Associates and other types of Administrators that I have ever seen in my 18 years.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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        * Statehouse Insider: We’re getting to the bottom.....
        * Rauner trying to broker mega-deal in Illinois L.....
        * Gov. Rauner Attempts to Broker Mega-Deal in Sta.....
        * Rauner trying to broker megadeal in legislature..


        * Man who fled after fatal hit-and-run extradited to Chicago
        * Man who fled after fatal hit-and-run extradited to Chicago
        * N. Illinois judge says Outlaws cannot reclaim vests, patches
        * $54M Dixon theft now subject of college courses
        * Rauner trying to broker mega-deal in Illinois Legislature
        * Illinois House OKs bill to create bobcat hunting season
        * Police: Man shot, killed by Chicago officer
        * Cardinal Francis George, key Catholic orthodoxy voice, dies
        * Attorneys seek dismissal of charges in Islamic State case
        * Funeral for Cardinal George set for Thursday

        * Madigan forms committee to review Rauner budget activities
        * Bill expanding in-car blood-alcohol devices passes House
        * Bobcat hunting bill passes House by slim margin
        * Madigan forms committee to review Rauner budget actitivities
        * State restores part of funding cut from schools
        * Bill banning powdered alcohol cruises through Senate
        * Official state pie? Illinois House approves the pumpkin variety
        * Springfield branch of The Autism Program lays off five workers
        * Illinois medical marijuana coordinator stepping down
        * Advocate Health amends Illinois managed care contract, saving state $5.1 million

        * Teacher, what's white-collar crime?
        * How could Chicago Public Schools be so dumb?
        * Now an even easier way to get mac 'n' cheese delivered to your home
        * OCC owners want dibs on half the pie
        * Bruce Rauner is no info junkie, and it shows


          * 1 wounded in Austin neighborhood shooting
          * Driver crashes into porch of Elgin home
          * 3rd man charged in fatal shooting behind Dunkin' Donuts in Cragin
          * Wisconsin man killed in motorcycle crash on Kennedy Expressway
          * 1 injured after electrical fire at West Loop high-rise
          * Woman found dead in Gary home identified
          * Man, 50, fatally stabbed in Humboldt Park restaurant
          * Man, 20, found dead of apparent gunshot wound in Elgin
          * Minnesota man accused in slaying arrested in Matteson
          * From the scene of downtown shooting: 'It looked so bad'


          * Cardinal Francis George helped 'make his people holy'
          * Remembering Chicago's Cardinal Francis George
          * George helped 'make his people holy'
          * Schock donor sues ex-US congressman seeking reimbursement
          * Is that the Loch Michigan Monster lurking off Fullerton Beach?
          * Chicago's retired Cardinal Francis George dies at 78
          * Canine flu outbreak sickens hundreds of dogs in Midwest
          * Rauner's first 100 days: The politics of negotiating a budget
          * 'Right to Try' measure passes Illinois House
          * Chicago council approves $5M settlement in police shooting


          * Madigan forms committee to review Rauner budget activities
          * Heather Eagleton: Illinois should regulate step therapy treatments
          * Bill expanding in-car blood-alcohol devices passes House
          * Bobcat hunting bill passes House by slim margin
          * Our Opinion: Springfield's flood warning signs an investment in safety
          * Mark Denzler and Randy Nehrt: 'Buy North American' bill a bad deal for Illinois
          * Cinda Klickna: Time for Rauner to stop campaigning and start governing
          * Wendy DuBoe and Mark Burton: Don't shortchange Illinois' investments in human services
          * E.J. Dionne: Rubio's fountain of youth
          * State restores part of funding cut from schools


          * LIVE! at Illinois Field (Indiana: Game 2)
          * LIVE! Spring game
          * Cardinal Francis George, key Catholic orthodoxy voice, dies
          * Man on parole for burglary arrested in Urbana for residential burglary, theft
          * All together now
          * Kids event tackles problem of hunger
          * ‘Everything changes’: 20 years later, Waterloo man recalls death of his mother in Oklahoma City bombing
          * Centennial Dance Marathon 2015
          * Three, including a 6-year-old, killed in Franklin County crash
          * Ebertfest 2015: Day 4


          * Fire tearing through Barrington Hills home
          * Carmel Catholic's Foster finds a fit in Minnesota
          * Stevenson scores a Scorza victory
          * Blues whip Wild 4-1, even series at game apiece
          * Voytik, Boyd shine in Pittsburgh's spring game

          * As Illinois' Common Core Testing Begins, H...
          * I-90 Corridor STEM Forum focuses on growin...
          * Money race begins for Congress next year
          * Herrick Team Wins Reserve Honors at 4-H Ro...
          * Cardinal Francis George succumbs to cancer...
          * Bustos wants refinancing allowed for stude...
          * Kinzinger reintroduces bipartisan bill to ...
          * Sandburg Team Wins Reserve Honors at 4-H R...
          * Chuck Sweeny: The 'listening tour' that pi...
          * Congressional Candidates Are Fundraising L...

          * Durbin Support...

          * GOP’s Kirk: A nuclear Iran is the greatest......
          * Kirk gives national broadcast speech on Iran...

          * Marco Rubio talks "radical Islam," 2nd Amendment at NRA Leadership Conference
          * Asked why Hillary should be President, college kids give exact same response
          * New Police Commanders In Both Uptown Districts
          * Gene Roddennberry's intro to "The Cage"
          * Church in North Caolina Vandalized by Gay Activists
          * Church in North Carolina Vandalized by Gay Activists
          * Waddle Over To The Milwaukee County Zoo To Celebrate World Penguin Day
          * Durbin: Hillary would be an "extraordinary" president
          * Foster: Rubio, just another token candidate
          * Kirk delivers GOP weekly address on Iran [video


          * Illinoisans Receive Governor’s Volunteer Service Award - 6thAnnual Awards Ceremony to be Held on April 20thin Springfield
          * Get Smart About College Planning During Money Smart Week® - College Illinois!® 529 Prepaid Tuition Program offers tips to plan for--and afford--the cost of college
          * Motorcycle Season Revs Up, Riders Urged to “Gear Up-Ride Smart” - New Campaign Touts Staying Safe Through Proper Gear, Education
          * IDOT’s Operation Teen Safe Driving Program Announces 2014-15 Winning Schools - Innovative Program Helps Save Lives, Promotes Safe Driving Habits
          * State of Illinois Takes Action on Medical Cannabis Dispensary Applicants





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