All Politics and Government Content

All Politics and Government Content

City extends enterprise zone

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign City Council voted Tuesday to extend enterprise zone tax benefits worth nearly $10 million to the planned Clearview commercial development and to a proposed ethanol plant.

In a 6-3 vote, council members voted to expand the joint city-Champaign County enterprise zone's boundaries to include 112 acres immediately south of The Andersons' grain elevators in unincorporated northwest Champaign, where the proposed $140 million ethanol plant would go.

Cut student loan rates, senator says

URBANA – If Sara Hernandez hadn't received federal grants and student loans, she probably wouldn't be studying speech and hearing science at the University of Illinois.

"It's always a thing to worry about," she said about paying for college.

Because she's not from a wealthy family, she has to work while at school in order to pay for expenses other than tuition. Her apartment, for one thing.

"It sets you back. There are so many organizations I would have more time for if I didn't have to pay for everything," she said.

State Senate hopeful's ballot status up in air

SPRINGFIELD – Socialist Equality Party candidate Joe Parnarauskis was the subject of fierce debate at the State Board of Elections on Thursday after a tie vote on the validity of his nominating petitions.

The eight-member, bipartisan panel remained deadlocked at the close of the business day, and decided to meet again at 9:30 a.m. next Thursday, said Steven Sturm, legal counsel for the board.

Myers gives economic priority plan

DANVILLE – State Senate candidate Judy Myers believes Illinois does not have a business-friendly environment and changes are needed to facilitate economic development.

"It's time for Illinois to change its ways. It's time for Illinois to change its (economic) climate," said Myers, who discussed the nine points of her economic priority plan during three press conferences Wednesday.

Frerichs backs tax swap plan

SPRINGFIELD –Democrat state Senate candidate Mike Frerichs on Monday endorsed a tax swap plan that had been a top issue for state Sen. Rick Winkel, the Republican legislator he hopes to replace.

Winkel, who is not running for re-election, unsuccessfully sought to cut property taxes and boost education funding by raising the state's individual and corporate income tax rates. State Sen. Miguel del Valle, D-Chicago, and state Sen. James Meeks, I-Chicago, also supported the concept, but it went nowhere in the General Assembly.

Officer uses talk on Iraq to teach students important lessons

CHAMPAIGN – Col. Mike Rudzinski of Rantoul faced many dangers during his service in Iraq, but one of his least favorite things was the camel spiders.

Their bodies can be as big as a man's hand, and he once saw hundreds of rats fleeing a garbage dump, chased by a spider with its front legs outstretched to capture its prey.

Firm seeks more incentives to redevelop Burnham Hosiptal

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign City Council will consider Tuesday whether to provide approximately $2 million in additional incentives to a Highland Park firm to redevelop the old Burnham City Hospital site.

The council meets in study session at 7 p.m. at the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.

Firm to negotiate for county on nursing home problems

URBANA – A local firm has taken over arbitrating or litigating the county's efforts to recoup some of the $4 million cost overrun on its new, unopened nursing home.

State's Attorney Julia Rietz said Urbana's Phebus and Koester firm, founded in 1895, was well-qualified to help the board argue that contractors should repay some of the $1.7 million cost to kill mold in the facility, as well as the still-unknown cost of getting the ventilation system to work.

Lawmakers renew call for state tax breaks on gasoline

SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, on Wednesday renewed his demand for immediate gas price relief, but such action appeared unlikely.

Black and House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, want the state to suspend the 19-cent-per-gallon state motor fuel tax for 30 days, and eliminate the state's 5 percent sales tax on gasoline for 60 days. Based on Wednesday's gas prices, Black said the two proposals together could save drivers about 28 cents per gallon, while costing the state an estimated $225 million.

Candidates have different views on minimum wage hike

Democratic state Senate candidate Mike Frerichs vowed on Tuesday to fight for a minimum-wage increase in Illinois.

Frerichs, who is running against Danville Republican Judy Myers, said he would sponsor legislation to increase the state's minimum wage from $6.50 to $7.50 an hour if he wins the Nov. 7 election.