(Springfield-jm) -- An interim annual financial report shows Illinois spent more in the previous fiscal year than it collected in revenue despite claims from elected officials that the state's budget was balanced. A public finance watchdog said despite some shortcomings, the interim annual report is valuable, especially as Gov. J.B. Pritzker prepares to propose his budget next week for the coming fiscal year that starts this summer. The five-page Interim Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2019. It was published this week by the Illinois comptroller, weeks after the fully audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Report was supposed to be published.



(Washington-jm) -- Is the situation with the coronavirus causing a slowdown in China's imports of U.S. soybeans? Gary Crawford reports…




(Paxton-jm) -- Could changes be coming to the Sangamon Valley Conference? The Paxton-Buckley-Loda School board is expected to discuss the athletic conference at tonight's school board meeting. School board members will also discuss summer maintenance projects and releasing bids for parking lot repairs at the high school and junior high. The PBL School Board meeting gets underway at 6pm



State Senator Scott Bennett and State Representative Mike Marron will hold joint office hours today from 12-1 at the Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce office.


(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker is promoting some accomplishments from his first year as governor. One of those accomplishments is expanding childhood education and increasing teacher pay…



Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is accusing the U.S. Department of Agriculture of playing favorites with trade war aid payments by giving more money to southern cotton farmers who were less affected by the trade war than Illinois soybean farmers. Durbin, who sits on the Senate agriculture committee, made the accusation after the USDA last week distributed the third and final round of aid payments to farmers affected by the ongoing trade war with China. The $14.5 billion of payments came from an aid package called the Market Facilitation Program. First-round payments in Illinois averaged $69 per acre. In contrast, 163 counties in five southern states saw payments above $87 per acre, including 13 that saw the maximum $150 per acre. Soybean exports fell by $9 billion, a drop of 75 percent, compared to cotton exports which fell just 6 percent, a decrease of $54 million.


(Springfield-jm) -- Proposed legislation in Illinois that would mandate your gas is pumped by an employee of the gas station would guarantee a price increase and is a “typical Springfield solution to creating jobs,” a convenience store group says. Illinois drivers filling up at the pump started paying double the state gas tax last summer. New revenue from the state gas tax increase from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents is going to pay for a multi-year statewide construction program. Drivers also got hit with increased fees in other areas, such as annual vehicle registration fees. Last week, House Bill 4571 was filed by Democratic state Rep. Camille Lilly and would create the Gas Station Attendant Act. It says that “no gas may be pumped at a gas station” in Illinois “unless it is pumped by a gas station attendant employed at the gas station.”


(Springfield-jm) -- New legislation in Springfield would keep Illinois lawmakers from shutting down investigations into their colleagues by the legislative ethics officer. The Illinois General Assembly has seen multiple resignations, offices raided, arrests, allegations of illegal kickbacks and a conviction in recent months as part of a sweeping federal corruption probe. It was revealed in 2018 that Illinois' Legislative Inspector General, the person responsible for investigating harassment, corruption and other unethical behavior under the dome, was often blocked by the Legislative Ethics Commission, a panel of lawmakers who don’t release their decisions to the public.  House Bill 4558 would require the investigator to tell the panel of lawmakers that they’ve started an investigation but the commission would no longer be able to stop them from starting it or from releasing a report on the findings to the public. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday touted statewide benefits he said will result from a $500 million state investment in 15 hubs of a University of Illinois-led public-private research institute network. The money is for the planning and construction of the Discovery Partners Institute — a public-private research and development and workforce development hub led by the UI — and 14 other hubs of a statewide program.



(Washington-jm) -- Cold snaps, even short ones, can cause significant agricultural damage. Stephanie Ho has the details…



The Onarga Public Library will hold their Family Movie Night tonight at 6:30 pm with the showing of Snow Buddies.



(Fisher-jm) -- The Fisher village board will meet tonight in their monthly session. Items on the agenda include discussing whether to repair or replace a 2011 police vehicle, consider approving revisions to the villages nuisance ordinance and consider amending the villages raffle ordinance. The Fisher village board meeting gets underway at 6pm.



(Undated-jm) -- State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington is introducing legislation to honor another branch of the U-S military on state license plates. Senate Bill 2518 would create the Air Force Combat Action license plate for eligible drivers. Senator Barickman says he wants to recognize all branches of military service.



(Washington-jm) -- What do USDA's latest domestic and global ag reports reveal about soybeans and wheat from a supply, export, and price perspective? Rod Bain reports…




(Springfield-jm) -- Most adults in Illinois give the state’s public school system only a so-so grade, but they give slightly higher marks for their own local schools. That’s according to a new survey commissioned by the Illinois Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union. The survey, called the State of Education Report,  also found broad public support for increasing funding for K-12 education and raising educator salaries. When asked to give the state’s public school system a letter grade, only 2 percent of respondents gave it an A, while 20 percent gave it a B, both down slightly from a similar survey conducted last year. Forty-one percent gave the state a C, while 31 percent gave it a D or F.


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