Illinois Budget 2.19.10

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at Please check in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.
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Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343,


Web Cube moments of the week

Leadership Series 2010: The LEDE


Despite budget woes, lawmakers push tax breaks, pension sweeteners

SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers seem determined this year to prove true the mantra "anything is possible." While the state is facing a massive budget problem and lawmakers promising solutions in an election year, dozens of measures being pushed at the Capitol this spring would actually dig the hole deeper. Legislators are pushing bills that would both give back more tax money and sweeten pension benefits for some groups. By Brian Feldt and Doug Finke of the State Capitol Bureau. For use in weekend editions.


State Briefs. News from around the state.

This week at the statehouse:
For Saturday:
No daily stories planned.
For the weekend:
STATEHOUSE INSIDER: By Doug Finke of the State Capitol Bureau. For use Sunday.


Real estate expert: Private investors key to turnaround

ROCKFORD – The real estate and financial services industries have been under siege since the real estate bubble burst in 2007. Steve O’Connor, the senior vice president of government affairs at the Washington, D.C.-based Mortgage Bankers Association, says that private investment will be the key to a turnaround in the real estate market. By Alex Gary of the Rockford Register Star.

Builders see promising signs as Home Expo opens

SPRINGFIELD – Homebuilders, granite countertop experts and window companies were putting the final touches on their booths Thursday for the Springfield Area Home Builders 2010 Home Expo. Many were optimistic that 2010 will be the year that homebuilders see a rebound.


Movie Man: 'Goodfellas' a great film about bad men

With Martin Scorsese’s new movie, “Shutter Island,” opening this weekend in theaters, and his 1990 movie, “Goodfellas” re-released this week on a 20th anniversary Blu-ray disc, I thought it was a good time to make the argument that “Goodfellas” is the best movie of the last 25 years. By Will Pfeifer of the Rockford Register Star.

Renewed hope sets up concert venue for more 'glory years'

SPRINGFIELD – When the Prairie Capital Convention Center opened its doors in 1979, local officials had high hopes for a cultural renaissance in Springfield. In the 30-plus years it has been open, the venue's fortunes have waxed and waned. By Brian Mackey of the State Journal-Register.

East Coast snows delay marathoner’s goal

ROCKFORD – The monster snowstorms that buried the East Coast earlier this month have set back Jefferson High School counselor Evelyn Smith’s quest to run a marathon race in all 50 states. Smith, who planned to make Nebraska her 50th state when she runs a marathon in Lincoln on May 2, lost her chance to make South Carolina her 49th this past weekend when race organizers canceled the Myrtle Beach Marathon because of snow. Now, she plans to make her South Carolina run on May 9, one day before her 50th birthday.

Elizabeth Davies: Being a mom is the best job

I lay in bed and soaked in the wonder of it all. I’m the mother of two small children. It’s 10 a.m. And yet, I’m still in bed and it’s quiet. How does that happen?

They may look like the real thing, but counterfeit drugs pose risks

PEORIA – Peoria City Councilman Eric Turner wasn't totally surprised when a police investigator bought Viagra over the counter at a local grocery store, bypassing both a prescription and a pharmacy. Neighbors have complained about loitering, violence and illegal drug sales around Shop Rite Supermarket for years, he says. But when Turner first heard rumors about sales of the erectile dysfunction drug in the grocery store, he didn't believe it. "Who's going to risk their liquor license over selling Viagra?" Turner asks. Who would sell Viagra over the counter is one question. The obvious follow-up is who would buy it? By Pam Adams of the Peoria Journal Star.


BRITT: Toon on Tiger Woods. Will be posted this evening.

Kevin Haas: You say earthquake, I say Oscar

The Rockford Register Star has once again failed to recognize my abilities as a director. The paper just hasn’t seemed to trust my video-making abilities since they sent me out to the Boone County Fair with a camera in 2008 and I turned in an investigative report about what is done with all the manure, dubbed “The No. 1 Way to Get Rid of No. 2.” So when a 3.8-magnitude earthquake rendered minor inconvenience on northern Illinois last week, my video pitch about Rockford’s recovery efforts (which, I imagined, were getting a glass of water and going back to sleep) were not so well-received.

Wood on Words: 'Para-' not so simple

A “parable” is a simple story, and a “parabola” is a plane curve. The adjective “parabolic” can refer to either one.

Editorial: Bipartisan spending binge can't continue

Congressman Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, probably gave the best answer he could on "Meet the Press" last Sunday regarding the tightrope any federal politician these days walks between Uncle Sam's grotesquely irresponsible overspending and the demands from back in the district to bring home the bacon. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.

Editorial: You count and need to be counted in this year’s census

We don’t need to provide excuses for not filling out your census form. We’ve heard them all already. They are bad reasons and, what’s more, they are hurtful. Every census form that doesn’t get filled out could mean dollars lost and clout unrealized, a road project deferred and economic development plan set aside. An editorial from the Rockford Register Star.


Sunday Quick Shots: NBA loses money, but teams want to spend more

NBA Commissioner David Stern claims teams will lose $400 million this year and have lost at least $200 million four years in a row. And this is with a salary cap that the league forced a half-season lockout to install 11 years ago. By Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star. Also includes items on the Bears, the White Sox, the Olympics and the Minnesota Twins. For use Sunday, Feb. 21.

For Saturday:
ON THE BUBBLE: Here's some advice for Illini basketball from RPI guru Jerry Palm -- finish strong. Illinois doesn't have a lot of slack when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. The Illini play at Purdue on Saturday. With preview capsule. By John Supinie.

For Sunday:
ILLINOIS-PURDUE: Tipoff is 3 p.m. By John Supinie.