State budget crisis clouds manufacturing education at community colleges

By Harvard Zhang The state’s financial crisis is undermining community college efforts to equip Illinoisans, particularly from low-income families, with high-tech manufacturing skills at a time when manufacturing jobs are again on the rise after a decade-long decline. Manufacturing departments at some community colleges shortchanged by the budget-less state of Illinois have been tightening their belts […]

No budget, not even K-12 funding as Illinois legislature adjourns

By Harvard Zhang Springfield, Ill.— No K-12 funding plan, let alone a fiscal 2017 budget, cleared the Illinois legislature before midnight Tuesday when the spring legislative session ended, threatening to throw the financially-beleaguered state into a second budget-less year with alarming economic, financial and social implications. Disagreement among the legislature-controlling Democrats derailed two bills their […]

Madigan snubs Rauner’s stopgap budget as deadline nears

By Harvard Zhang Springfield, Ill. — Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan showed no rush to advance a short-term budget Governor Bruce Rauner proposed on the last spring-session day to fund public entities and avoid a government shutdown. Governor Rauner and Republican leaders proposed passing a stopgap spending plan to float public schools, universities and social […]

Clock ticking for Springfield to resolve budget crises

By Harvard Zhang Springfield, Ill. — Illinois lawmakers have until midnight Tuesday to push the brakes on the state’s entering a second budget-less year, which would continue to take a toll on a large swath of Illinoisans and dim the state’s future. House Speaker Michael Madigan said Monday he had scheduled House special sessions for […]

Chicago investment returns on track to beat last year: City Treasurer Office

By Harvard Zhang The return on Chicago’s investment portfolio is on track to beat last year’s results thanks to the re-allocation of funds into higher-yield bonds. Chicago generated $15 million of revenue on “traditional reserves” from Skyway and parking meter revenues in the first quarter of 2016, and $22 million on operating funds, according to Miriam Martinez, chief […]

Illinois dentists borrow to keep treating state employees amid budget crisis

By Harvard Zhang When Dr. Joshua Renken opened his Springfield clinic in 2003 after getting his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree, he didn’t foresee waiting for months to be paid $500,000 owed him by the state of Illinois for seeing its employees, suffering from a cash crunch, and borrowing from a commercial bank against his business […]

Many tears, no budget: House Democrats push $15 wage floor for social workers

By Harvard Zhang Springfield, Ill. — A number of bills proposed by Democratic representatives to boost social workers’ benefits including a $15 minimum hourly wage will face full House scrutiny after clearing a key committee Wednesday, despite the already deeply-cut funding for state social services. The majority Democratic lawmakers, holding 11 seats out of 20 on […]

Lack of state budget devastates cash-strapped school districts: Superintendent Smith

By Harvard Zhang Springfield, Ill. — Illinois School Superintendent Tony Smith warned legislators that, without a K-12 budget by July 1, 187 school districts will have less than 100 days of cash on hand. Testifying Tuesday before the House appropriations committee, Smith underlined the looming cash crunch facing Illinois school districts, adding that they’re also having to evaluate […]

Vote informed: BallotReady stresses local races

By Harvard Zhang Are you voting for someone because you think he or she has a cool name? Or it’s the first person on the ballot? Do you ever guess for offices further down the sheet or simply leave blanks? In this big election year, a pair of online services want to empower you with […]

Interest rate, stock market uncertainties weigh on Northern Trust outlook

By Harvard Zhang Analysts covering Northern Trust Corp. are divided on the financial holding company’s year ahead thanks to a mix of unclear macroeconomic influencers, the corporation’s growth opportunities and its uncertain ability to wield the ax on expenses. Clouds gather over the Chicago-based corporation’s outlook with unclear interest rate movements and a volatile equity […]