The philanthropic and non-profit community in Illinois is bracing itself for what is expected to be a "painful" budgetary year.
"It's going to be tough," said Valerie Lies, president and CEO of the Donors Forum, a member association working to strengthen the state's philanthropic and non-profit sector. "I feel like we haven't even started to dig ourselves out, and I think [this] gubernatorial election will be an important one."
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) hopes a report issued Monday detailing the marketing tactics used by electronic cigarette companies will coerce the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take regulatory action on the products.
E-cigarettes are currently free from numerous sales, marketing and product regulations at the federal level that apply to traditional cigarettes.
Durbin and 11 other Democratic lawmakers from the U.S. House and Senate launched a joint investigation into the marketing practices of nine companies that make commonly sold e-cigarette brands including MarkTen, Vuse, NJOY King, Eonsmoke, LOGIC, V2 Cigs, VaporCouture, Blu, Green Smoke and White Cloud. The investigation's findings were revealed Monday. The report shows a recent uptick in e-cigarette marketing, including tactics that Durbin says appeal to minors.
"E-cigarettes are a candy-flavored addiction, which is dangerous to our young people across America," the senator said on a press call Monday morning about the new report. "It is growing in popularity among children and sadly poses serious public health threats."
With the media and public spotlight on Chicago's pension crisis, the non-partisan research center Good Jobs First is turning the attention to the city's controversial tax increment financing, or TIF, program.
"It's really hard to ignore the evidence that TIF has had some sort of impact on pensions," said Tommy Cafcas, research analyst at Good Jobs First, which works to promote corporate and government accountability.
"We know that TIF costs grew, and they started growing really quickly after 2000. We know that general fund revenues declined ... and we know that the city addressed its budget gap in part by making inadequate contributions to public pensions, so it seems reasonable that TIF plays a role in how the city thinks about addressing the pension issue."
After Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel dropped a $250 million property tax hike from his proposed pension bill for city workers, the Illinois General Assembly passed the legislation Tuesday, sending it to the governor's desk.
Reproductive rights advocates and several youths took to Springfield Thursday to speak out against a state law requiring parental notification before a minor can obtain abortion services.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, the Chicago Abortion Fund and the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH) hosted the day of advocacy at the Capitol to call for a repeal of the state's Parental Notice of Abortion Act of 1995, a law activists say puts teens in harm's way.
"For many young women, having a family member notified is equivalent to them being abused, being kicked out of their home, or being forced to carry a pregnancy to term against their will," stressed Allie Carter, advocacy and outreach director at the ACLU of Illinois.
The General Election is not for another seven months, but the nominees for Illinois treasurer are wasting no time in taking jabs at each other. Progress Illinois takes a look at the race for treasurer that pits State Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign) against State Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego).