(Springfield-jm) -- When governors present balanced state budgets, a new report found they are often leaving out the cost of infrastructure repairs, omissions that can lead to potholes and other problems along with big bills in future budgets. The nonprofit Volcker Alliance, as part of a larger series of studies on government transparency, estimated deferred maintenance costs to be as high as $873 billion. Those costs were either obscured or deferred in state budgets, the report found. “Combined with a reported federal backlog of $170 billion, the national total deferred maintenance cost may be at least $1 trillion,” according to the report. The Rebuild Illinois infrastructure plan is largely funded by doubling the state’s motor fuel tax from 19 cents to 38 cents per gallon in July.



(Springfield-jm) -- Four political committees controlled by House Speaker Michael Madigan paid $275,000 to settle a federal sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former campaign worker. Former campaign worker Alaina Hampton sued House Speaker Michael Madigan’s political operation in 2018 claiming retaliation after she made allegations of sexual harassment against former Madigan aide Kevin Quinn. Quinn was fired just before Hampton made her claims public.



(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School is being recognized by the state. Superintendent Cliff Mcclure says the school has been named one of the top stem schools in Illinois…



Paxton Buckley Loda Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.


(Undated-jm) -- All OSF HealthCare patients using Meridian Medicaid and Medicare plans will have to find a different provider after the healthcare announced its decision to terminate its contract with Meridian. Meridian Medicaid and Medicare has been accepted at the facility for years. After months of discussion, the termination is set to take effect December 15th. Meridian members who want to remain with OSF providers can choose a different managed Medicaid plan during the open enrollment period, which is now under way. Both Carle and Christie Clinic accepts Meridian. 



(Washington-jm) -- Will the long term decline in the U.S. agricultural trade surplus continue in this current 2020 fiscal year? Gary Crawford reports…




(Danville-jm) -- Every year, certain cemeteries make the extra effort to remember the fallen during the holidays. They aim to do this with the help of Wreaths Across America. But wreath sponsors are still needed in our area. The Danville National Cemetery is only 9.5% to its goal for this year. Only 1,136 out of 12,000 wreaths have been sponsored. If the cemeteries aren't able to get enough sponsors then some gravestones will have to go without a wreath. National Wreaths Across America Day is December 14 this year.



(Springfield-jm) --  State lawmakers will have several issues to handle when the spring session begins in January. One of the big issues is ethics reform. Local State Senator Jason Barickman talks about one of the major ethics reforms he wants to see passed…



53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.



(Undated-jm) -- Medical marijuana users may be noticing a limited supply. This year, more medical conditions were approved for people to use medical cannabis. That, along with the upcoming recreational use, may make it difficult for patients to access it due to a limited supply. Industry experts said this might mean patients will have to adjust the type of cannabis they use. Since marijuana is still outlawed federally, any cannabis sold in Illinois must also be grown in the state.



(Undated-jm) -- Many people take opioids after undergoing surgery or for chronic pain, but what if there was an alternative to these addictive drugs? A new pilot program is offering cannabis as an alternative drug in Illinois. The program is only one year in, but the state's said it's already drawing attention. That's because, in Illinois, you don't need to have an active opioid prescription to get medical marijuana. You just need to have a qualifying condition to be approved.



(Springfield-jm) -- A horticulturist at the University of Illinois Extension has some tips for picking out and caring for your Christmas tree. The extension’s Richard Hentschel says cutting your own tree ensures it’s fresh, especially since it’s been such a cool, damp fall. For precut trees: giving it a good shake to see how many needles fall off is a helpful indicator. When you get home... 



State Extension Horticulturist Richard Hentschel. Once the tree is set up, Hentschel recommends waiting at least a few hours before decorating so the branches open up again. Trees need a lot of water, especially during the first couple of days, if you want it to last.


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A bribery charge against a state legislator and federal investigations into lobbying have Illinois lawmakers promising to tighten the rules of soliciting and exercising influence in the Statehouse, with a renewed focus on the ridiculed process of financial disclosure. The General Assembly wrapped up its fall session this month by adopting legislation to streamline information about lobbying, government contracts and campaign contributions, but delayed examining fiscal reporting required of legislators and other state policymakers.



(Springfield-jm) -- A tax professional has suggested some things Illinois tax filers should consider as they look to close out the year and begin the 2019 tax filing season. Leonard and Associates Managing Partner Michael Leonard said if you have kids, the No. 1 thing is getting a 529 college savings plan. For people 70 years old, Leonard suggests filers take their required minimum distribution and give it to charity. For typical W2 filers, Leonard said don’t worry about receipts because there’s not much to write off.



(Gifford-jm) -- The village of Gifford will ring in the Christmas holiday season with a lighted Christmas parade. The parade will take place on December 8th and is sponsored by the Gifford State Bank says Spokesperson Stacey Huls…



Gifford State Bank Parade Spokesperson Stacey Huls.



(Urbana-jm) -- After hiring multiple private investigators and interviewing witnesses, lawyers for three alleged victims of a former UI professor say they’ve been unable to find the man they need to serve with a court summons. Gary Xu, formerly the head of the UI’s East Asian Languages and Culture department, is the subject of a September 10 lawsuit that accuses him of using his position to take advantage of numerous young, Chinese students.Since the suit was filed, lawyers for the victims say that multiple interviews with “witnesses familiar with” Xu and multiple private investigation firms have failed to produce Xu’s current location  meaning he hasn’t yet been served a court summons. The plaintiffs have until December 9th to serve him his summons.

(Washington-jm) -- Here's a look at the latest USDA report on farm labor. It shows more hired workers and higher wages than a year ago. Gary Crawford reports…




(Watseka-jm) -- The Watseka Police Department has a new officer, this one with four legs. With an increase in narcotic usage, the department recently acquired a K-9. The dog is trained to detect drugs such as cocaine, heroin, meth, ecstasy and more. Overdose deaths in the county doubled last year from 4 to 8. 



(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton-Buckley-Loda Education Foundation’s first year in creating an endowment fund has been a success. The foundation recently gave their first distribution from the endowment says PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure…



PBL Schools Superintendent Cliff McClure.



(Undated-jm) -- Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., yet one in eight Americans who suffer from the condition can't afford to take the medication they need to stay alive, according to a new study from the American Heart Association. To save money, many patients either skip doses, take a lower dose than what is prescribed or delay filling a medication, the study found. Roughly 2.2 million Americans reported not taking their pills as prescribed, the AHA found. 



(Undated-jm) -- According to a new report by The Commonwealth Fund, rising premium and deductibles contributions have outstripped wage growth over the past decade. More and more middle-class Americans are paying a greater percentage of earnings for health care. The report analyzed survey data from 40,000 private-sector employers, as well as income data from the Census Bureau. Median household income in the United States between 2008 and 2018 grew 1.9% per year on average, rising from $53,000 to $64,202. But middle-class employees' premium and deductible contributions rose much faster -- nearly 6% per year over that same decade. In 2008, middle-class workers spent about 7.8% of household income on premiums and deductibles. By 2018, that figure had climbed to 11.5%.



(Springfield-jm) -- It was just a few years ago that the approved use of a powerful herbicide was expanded to soybeans. Now environmental groups say native trees in Illinois are becoming collateral damage. Mary Schuermann reports…



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