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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
12:31pm
Thu Oct 20, 2016

Illinois Spending On K-12 Education Higher Than Pre-Recession Levels, Report Finds

Most states are spending less on K-12 education now than they did before the Great Recession. Illinois, however, is among the exceptions, according to a new report.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:24pm
Wed Oct 12, 2016

Duckworth Talks College Affordability At UIC, Responds To Kirk's New Attack Ad

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL,8) was at the University of Illinois at Chicago Wednesday morning to talk with students about higher education and college affordability. 

"I can't think of something more important as an investment to our nation than making sure that we make college affordable, and that we get to a point where students are not starting off life with tremendous amounts of student loan debt," Duckworth told reporters after the town hall.

The event, sponsored by UIC student organizations and Young Invincibles Action, was supposed to be a candidate forum, but Kirk declined to participate, Duckworth said. 

The congresswoman used the event to detail college affordability proposals she is sponsoring in the U.S. House, namely the "In the Red Act." The proposal would adjust Pell Grants for inflation, allow borrowers to refinance student debt at lower interest rates and provide students with two years of tuition-free community college.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:11pm
Mon Jun 27, 2016

Illinois Expands Reach Of Summer Meal Programs, But 686,000 Kids Still Missing Out

More low-income Illinois children are participating in summer meal programs, but there are still nearly 686,000 eligible kids missing out, a new report shows.

About 112,000 low-income Illinois children received summer meals on a daily basis last July, according to the report by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a national anti-hunger group.

That figure represents a 4.7 percent increase from July 2014, when about 107,000 low-income Illinois children accessed summer meal programs each day.

While advocates are pleased by the 4.7 percent increase, they point out that summer meals are reaching only one in seven low-income Illinois children who need them.

Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
7:15pm
Thu Jun 23, 2016

Illinois Immigration Reform Advocates Vow To Press On After Supreme Court's Split Vote On Executive Orders (VIDEO)

The U.S. Supreme Court announced a 4-4 split on the case challenging President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration reform and Illinois advocates are expressing their dismay as they plan to press their efforts forward.

The deadlock vote means the president's November 2014 orders to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and install the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) have been blocked for the time being.

The programs would have deferred deportation for three years for undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders, while also expanding protections for people who were brought to the U.S. as minors and were not covered by the original DACA program. More than 4 million immigrants would have benefited from the orders, 280,000 people living in Illinois.

"This ruling is deeply frustrating and disappointing for all immigrant communities," said Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights CEO Lawrence Benito.  "Instead of being able to move forward with our lives and contributing further to our entire community, immigrants remain vulnerable to the knock on the door that could separate them from their families and from the lives they have made in this country."

Quick Hit
by Op-Ed
5:01pm
Tue Jun 21, 2016

Op-Ed: Choice Is A Right We All Must Defend

The following is written by Oren Jacobson, executive director and co-founder of Men4Choice, "an organization that serves as a point of entry for young men to join the fight to protect and expand women's reproductive rights and make choice a voting issue for men."

In November 2010, Tea Party-aligned politicians swept into office at all levels of government under the guise of reducing government influence in our daily lives. That promise was quickly broken by many of those elected, who have since seemed more interested in using the authority of the state to severely limit access to reproductive health services and marginalize the women who make use of them. During the last 6 years, we have actually seen as many anti-choice pieces of legislation adopted by the states as the previous 15 years combined. In 2015, at least one piece of legislation was filed per day that would strip women of their basic rights.

These efforts aren't simply about preventing abortions, though. They are actually designed to make it harder to access basic health care and contraceptive services. For example, Planned Parenthood's abortion services make up roughly three percent of the organization's work, but that hasn't stopped anti-choice legislators from pushing to defund this vital organization that helps millions across the country receive affordable, critical healthcare.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
2:18pm
Tue Jun 14, 2016

Chicago Housing Authority CEO Lauds Progress On Controversial Plan For Transformation, Advocates Remain Skeptical

Chicago Housing Authority CEO Eugene Jones, Jr. spoke at the City Club of Chicago Monday afternoon, detailing the agency's progress toward reaching a key goal under the original Plan for Transformation and lauding the agency's success. But some housing advocates are not that impressed.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:29pm
Fri Jun 10, 2016

Federal Funding Saves Illinois Pediatric AIDS Prevention Group From Closure

HIV-positive mothers and their unborn babies are benefiting from an 11th-hour infusion of federal funding that saved an Illinois nonprofit from closing due to the state budget impasse.

Anne Statton, executive director of the Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative (PACPI), said approximately $500,000 in available federal funds was released to the organization by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The funds will cover outstanding invoices for contracted services PACPI performed between July 2015 and March 2016, Statton said.

PACPI, which works to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmissions, depends on IDPH for about 85 percent of its funding. Currently, the organization has state contracts that collectively total about $845,000.

Without the federal funding, PACPI would have been forced to shut down in October.

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