Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 04, 2010

Champaign Budget Reflects Hard Times but No Layoffs

The city of Champaign isn't planning any major construction projects or improvements in the next budget year - but it doesn't plan any layoffs either.

However, the city still expects revenue to fall about $3.5 million short of needs, so it's cut about two and a half million dollars from the proposal for fiscal year 2011. That's not as deep as the six million dollars cut last year, but Champaign finance director Richard Schnuer says none of those cuts are being restored either.

"It's been a difficult year for us as well as for people in the community who are suffering the impacts," Schnuer said. "We've sure tried to continue to provide the services that contribute to the high quality of life in the city. And we hope that we did make those choices -- if not, we're happy to hear from people."

The proposed cuts in the $67 million general fund budget mainly involve jobs that won't be filled once current employees retire or leave.

The Champaign city council gets its first formal look at the budget Tuesday night - it'll also be available at the city building and the Champaign Public library.

Categories: Economics, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 04, 2010

Carle Hospital Facility Attains New Status

Carle Foundation Hospital has been recognized for its ability to treat stroke victims - and achieving the best possible outcomes for those patients.

Physicians at the Urbana hospital say Advanced Certification from the Joint Commission shows that Carle has expanded its stroke program through personnel and the proper equipment. Neurosurgeon Dr. John Wang says a large part of the certification is the 24/7 coverage Carle provides in its emergency room, as well as specialized care the hospital offers from himself and Dr. Thomas Kim in the stroke center. "I have different things to bring on the table than a neuroradiologist, and likewise," said Wang. "So that combination you don't often find anywhere else actually - that I speak with all sincerity. Because of a lot of the stroke intervention team is composed of purely neuroradiologists, or purely neurosurgeons, or purely neurologists... this collaboration among two important subspecialities relevant to stroke care is very rare."

Wang says the certification itself serves as a validation of Carle's efforts, but the hospital does much more. The newer bi-planer x-ray equipment is capable of taking a 3-D image of a patient's head... resulting in a quicker diagnosis and treatment. Wang says the safety and the success of the procedure are both enhanced as a result. Carle Foundation Hospital partners with 16 other hospitals in the region to begin stroke patient care at those facilities before transferring them to Urbana.

Categories: Health

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 03, 2010

Quinn Proposes Limiting Property Taxes through Local “Taxpayer Action Boards

Gov. Pat Quinn is proposing legislation that he says would offer tax relief to millions of Illinois property owners.

Quinn plans to present the Homeowner's Property Tax Relief Initiative of 2010 to the General Assembly this week.

The legislation would create a Taxpayer Action Board modeled after the statewide utility watchdog that Quinn helped start in the 1980s.

Quinn says the taxpayer board would be independent and nonpartisan. It would help property owners appeal their tax bills and assessments.

The legislation also looks to make it easier for property owners to get information about the assessment process, including comparable sales statistics.

The proposal would also extend a provision that reduces homeowners' taxable value by $20,000.

Categories: Economics, Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 03, 2010

Democrat who Withdrew from Lt. Governor’s Race Runs for Governor Instead

The candidate who won the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor only to pull out of the race amid scandal now says he wants to be Illinois' governor.

In a statement Monday, Scott Lee Cohen says he plans to get on the November ballot as an independent.

Cohen quit the lieutenant governor's race amid accusations of failure to pay child support and holding a knife to his girlfriend's throat.

He says he's running because he's tired of mismanagement in Illinois government.

Cohen says he isn't perfect but he's honest. And he says Illinois needs honesty more than it needs perfection right now.

To get on the Illinois ballot, Cohen would need to submit 25,000 signatures from registered voters on petitions by June 21. If Cohen succeeds, he'll face Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, Republican state Sen. Bill Brady and Green Party candidate Rich Whitney.

Categories: Government, Politics

AP - Illinois Public Media News - May 03, 2010

Durbin Cautions Against Expecting a Quick FutureGen Decision

More delays could be in store for a clean coal technology plant in eastern Illinois. The FutureGen Industrial Alliance is still negotiating finances with the state, dragging out a decision by the US Department of Energy on whether to build the plant in Mattoon.

Illinois Democratic US Senator Dick Durbin says the agency is extending its study of the experimental plant.

"I said that the Secretary of Energy had to decide this project on it's merits and I wanted him to do that," Durbin said over the weekend in Springfield. "I think we've made a good strong case, but we don't take anything more granted."

Durbin, the Majority Whip, says he's optimistic the plant will be built.

The Energy Department had planned to announce by now whether to go forward, but the agency has decided to keep studying the alliance's plans another 60 days.

If built, FutureGen would be the worlds' first zero emissions coal-fired power plant. Carbon dioxide created from burning coal would be stored underground. The project would create thousands of construction jobs.


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