The 21st Show

Local Money In The State Budget; The Underground Railroad In Southern IL; New ‘One Illinois’ Media

The Illinois Statehouse in Springfield

The Illinois Statehouse in Springfield. (Wikipedia)

On the 21st: A group of mayors are worried that Springfield will use local revenue to fill holes in the next state budget. Plus, the history of slavery and the Underground Railroad in southern Illinois—and what educators are doing to bring that history to life in the classroom. And, the leaders of a new nonprofit news outlet called One Illinois say they want to tell stories about what unites us instead of what divides us. 

Lawmakers in Springfield are working on what will hopefully be a full budget for the state of Illinois. That deadline is May 31st.

The nonpartisan Civic Federation put out its budget report last night. It called Gov. Rauner’s plan “precariously balanced” and that its modest surplus relies on “aggressive assumptions”. It added that the current proposal does little to address Illinois’ massive bill backlog.

A group of mayors from DuPage County and some of Chicago’s suburbs are also weighing in. They’re worried the state might cut some of the funding that goes to local municipalities. And they’ve joined together to form a campaign they’re calling Protect My Town.

Two of those mayors joined us on the show today to talk about this campaign. Kevin Burns is the Mayor of Geneva, on the west side of the Chicago suburbs in Kane County, and Martin Tully is the Mayor of Downers Grove, a southwest Chicago suburb in DuPage County. 


Illinois is turning 200 years old this year. And when the territory first became a state back in 1818, it officially joined the Union as a FREE state.

But slavery was still allowed to continue in many parts of Illinois. And the black men and women who were free were in danger of being kidnapped and sold into slavery across the border in either Kentucky or MIssouri, especially if they lived in southern Illinois.

So, some African Americans decided to form their own communities. One of them was called Miller Grove, and local historians and archaeologists have been learning more about the role they and other African Americans at the time played in resisting slavery, including as part of the Underground Railroad.

That history is finding its way into local schools, and two Murphysboro High School teachers joined us on the show today to talk about it: Stacie Tefft and Rachel Bottje. Murphysboro junior Josh Ruiz also joined us. 

Also on the show today was Grant Miller, an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Southern Illinois University.


Since the 2016 election, there has been a lot of focus on how we are different depending on where we live, or who we supported for president. Media coverage doesn’t always help, especially when we’re talking about the growth of partisan media outlets.

But, a new nonprofit news outlet called One Illinois says it wants to challenge the way media covers people and issues in our state by focusing on what unites us instead of what makes us different from one another.

The organization, started by Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar just launched. He’s a Democrat who represents Chicago’s 47th Ward on the city’s North Side. He serves as their executive director. He joined us today to talk about One Illinois. 

Also joining us was the editor of One Illinois, Ted Cox, formerly of the Daily Herald, DNAInfo Chicago and Chicago Reader.

Story source: WILL