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Illinois still doesn't have a complete and constitutional budget in place, but lawmakers are working in a bipartisan way to address critical needs.

State Senator Dave Luechtefeld is pleased with the 55-2 vote in the senate on Thursday to provide 60-percent funding levels for state universities, community colleges and MAP grants.  But he warns the house must follow suit to make the funding a reality.

It is good we are doing this bipartisan.  One thing that concerns me is, we have done this in the Senate, if nothing happens in the house, it doesn't mean a whole lot," said Luechtefeld.  "At least it is a start I think.  Hopefully they will take this up."

Luechtefeld adds while the legislation is a step forward, it is really nothing to brag about.   He says the ten months and counting impasse over the budget has caused real hardships.  Luectefeld notes SIU in my district and he has seen the devastation that is really going to be hard to make up.  You just don't get those teachers back and you don't get those students back.  It will really take years to make up the devastation that has occurred at all of the universities and community colleges.  

Kaskaskia College President Dr. Penny Quinn says the overall bill would provide an additional $90-million dollars.  The amount of money Kaskaskia College would receive is not yet known.  Quinn says the 60-percent goal is the target of the entire bill, not necessarily for each college.

Last month, lawmakers used $600 million left over in an education fund to help colleges make it through the summer. Lawmakers are proposing to get the money for the current bill by not repaying various state funds they borrowed from.


A 33-year-old Centralia man was injured in a two vehicle crash Thursday morning in Centralia.  

Centralia Police say Clinton McDaniel of Melrose Drive was southbound on Poplar Street when a car driven by 48-year-old Loxiette Leake of East 7th in Centralia pulled from Eighth Street in front of McDaniel.  Leake ran into the side of McDaniel's car.  

McDaniel was taken to SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital via Lifestar Ambulance for treatment.  

Leake was ticketed for failure to yield at a stop intersection.

The crash occurred at 7:47 Thursday morning.  


EFFINGHAM, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says Ramsey Lake State Recreation Area and Horseshoe Lake State Park have reopened after a donor paid to turn the electricity back on.

IDNR spokesman Chris Young says the parks reopened Wednesday after they were closed about two weeks ago due to the state budget impasse. Young says the electric company didn't name the donor. Southwestern Electric Cooperative officials didn't identify the donor citing privacy concerns.

The parks were closed because electric and trash service were terminated. Young says Ramsey Lake owned $1,765 in electric bills and Horseshoe Lake owed $829. Young said it wasn't clear how long the parks would remain open.

Young says the agency owes about $3,500 for trash service at Horseshoe Lake, but he says Republic Service recently has been picking up trash there.


URBANA, Ill. (AP) - A bald eagle injured by a gunshot will undergo surgery that a University of Illinois veterinary intern says may restore its ability to fly.

The year-old eagle was shot several months ago and found in southern Illinois. She was moved to the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital this week and is scheduled to have surgery on a broken bone in her wing on Thursday.

Nicki Rosenhagen is a veterinary intern at the hospital. Rosenhagen told The News-Gazette in Champaign that if the surgery is successful the eagle might be able to fly and return to the wild.   Rosenhagen says eagles can live to be 30 years old.

Little is known about why the eagle was shot or who did it. Bald eagles are federally protected, but not endangered.


CHICAGO (AP) - A group of children will travel to visit their mothers in Illinois prisons this weekend, thanks to three groups that donated money to cover the cost of the trips.

Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration and Nehemiah Trinity Rising have raised more than $12,000 to provide bus trips for Mother's Day weekend and other visits this summer.

The young people will travel Saturday to the Decatur Correctional Center, where they will have lunch with their moms and play in the prison's gymnasium. 

The organizations say the visits are important to maintain a connection between the youths and their mothers. 

They say many kids haven't seen their mothers since December because the state budget impasse shut down programs for families affected by incarceration.




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