Illinois Budget 9.01.09

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at Please check in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.
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Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343,


The daily Illinois budget can be found online at Budget updates will be posted there.

Job postings: Rockford Register Star seeks reporter, Local and State editor

New humor cartoon, Wit’s End, available on GateHouse News Service.


Program offers high school students chance to simultaneously earn associate degree

ROCKFORD – Some of Rock Valley College’s newest pupils will have a college degree in hand before ever walking across the stage at their high school graduations. This fall, 47 students enrolled in Running Start, a partnership between the Belvidere School District and Rock Valley College. Twenty-five high school juniors from Belvidere North and 22 from Belvidere enrolled at Rock Valley and will graduate in two years with a high school diploma and an associate degree. Other states have similar programs, but this is the first in Illinois, said Diane Nyhammer, Rock Valley’s vice president of academic affairs. By Cathy Bayer and Betsy López Fritscher of the Rockford Register Star.


State Briefs. News from around the state. Will be posted this evening.
DRUGS IN WATER: A newly signed state law bars medical facilities from dumping unused medication into wastewater. It's part of a growing, ongoing effort to educate the public about the perils of getting rid of old medicines by simply putting them down the sink or toilet. With accompanying tips about how people can safely dispose of old medicines. By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol Bureau. Will be posted this evening.
BLAGOJEVICH BOOK: A rundown of highlights from ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich's new book that haven't been out before, from his views on not living in the Executive Mansion in Springfield to how his wife feared her powerful father might try to kill him in their long-running feud. By Bernard Schoenburg of the State Journal-Register and Ryan Keith of the State Capitol Bureau. Will be posted this evening.
STATE CAPITOL Q&A: A look at Gov. Pat Quinn's action on bills this summer and what work lawmakers have facing them when they return in October. By Ryan Keith of the State Capitol Bureau. Will be posted this evening.

Unemployed seniors have resources available to them

PEORIA – Seniors who suddenly find themselves out of work should not think they have nothing left to offer. There are many opportunities for work or for retraining for a new career for those 55 and older, if one knows where to look, said people who work with seniors and displaced workers on a daily basis. By Paul Gordon of the Peoria Journal Star.

Bradley business school recognized as one of nation's best

PEORIA – Bradley University's business school has joined some exclusive company. The Foster School of Business Administration was recently ranked 11th among private master's degree level universities by U.S. News & World Report. By Steve Tarter of the Peoria Journal Star.


Wellness program for firefighters keeps injuries at bay

PEORIA – Maybe it's the exposure to extreme heat, carbon monoxide, cyanide and other toxic gases and chemicals. It could be the heavy equipment and bursts of physical exertion. Or perhaps it's going directly from peaceful sleep to the adrenaline rush of a fire alarm. Whatever the reason, firefighters are particularly susceptible to heart attacks. A workout program for Peoria firefighters has helped address those concerns and also keep firefighters healthy in other ways. By Ryan Ori of the Peoria Journal Star. To localize: Do local fire departments have similar programs?

Blast from the past: Pekin man builds replica of Civil War cannon

PEKIN – One hundred and fifty years ago, a 12-pound field howitzer was a fearsome weapon. Today, a working replica of the Civil War-era cannon stands on one corner of Robert Mercer’s property, the topic of an occasional joke with the neighbors and the fulfillment of Mercer’s longtime dream. By Art Drake of the Pekin Daily Times.

Science of sleep explains why teens are so tired

SPRINGFIELD – Shelly Nielsen sees students fall asleep in class at least twice a week.  “When I see teens asleep in my class, I wonder if I’m really that boring,” said Nielsen, a Springfield Lanphier High School special education teacher. “I also wonder why they’re so tired.” According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, teens need at least nine hours of sleep to function properly during the day. And according to a recent study, more than 90 percent of teens say they are sleeping less than that each night. By Danielle Draper of the State Journal-Register.


BRITT: Local toon.
Phil Luciano: Say it ain't so, Jim

I haven’t been 8 years old in a long time. I realize pro sports puts business ahead of sentiment. And over time I gradually have become less of a fanatic about sports. But when I saw the headlines that Jim Thome had been traded from the White Sox, I felt as if I’d been punched in the gut. Really.

Chuck Sweeny: Extremes rule in health care reform debate
And now for something completely different: In the wake of Ted Kennedy’s death, I’ve been thinking about how much of the coverage focused on the fact that the senator, who served nearly 47 years in the upper chamber, worked to achieve universal health care. The goal, we’ve been reminded repeatedly, eluded him.

Editorial: Ready to face round two of swine flu?

The new school year and cool weather signal more than the start of the long, slow slog into fall and winter. Both also are serving to rekindle fears of a resurgent swine flu pandemic. The virus was off the radar for most Americans throughout the summer after its abrupt appearance in April. And editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.

Editorial: Illinois deserves better than half-hearted reform attempts

For vetoing a lousy measure he called “landmark legislation” just a couple of months earlier, we applaud Gov. Pat Quinn. And we urge him to push for real campaign finance reform during the veto session this fall. An editorial from the Rockford Register Star.

Editorial: Let’s have real ethics reform

While it was comical last week to watch Gov. Pat Quinn, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton stand together as Quinn vetoed the campaign finance legislation all of them endorsed, it was the right thing to do. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.


ILLINI NOTES: Illinois coach Ron Zook may clarify the status of defensive tackle Josh Brent and running back Daniel Dufrene during his weekly press conference. Dufrene is doubtful with a sprained ankle. Brent was suspended following his DUI arrest in February. By John Supinie. Will be posted this evening.