A new report places both Illinois and Missouri among the least health states in the nation.
The reports was released by the United Health Foundation and puts Illinois as the 30th healthiest state and Missouri in the 39th spot. The Show me State did move up one spot. The report says the state saw a decrease in smoking, binge drinking, and physical inactivity.
Smoking and high cardiovascular and cancer death rates remain problems for Missouri, and high levels of air pollution and binge drinking are trouble for Illinois.
The full report can be viewed here: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A study by a group of health organizations puts Illinois 32nd in spending tobacco-lawsuit money on smoking-prevention programs.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids looked at how the 50 states and District of Columbia have spent $116 billion in money so far from a landmark lawsuit against big tobacco companies in 1998.
The campaign and other anti-smoking groups want money spent on preventing young people from starting to smoke.
Between settlement money and tobacco taxes, Illinois is getting $1 billion this year. Just more than $11 million is going to tobacco-use-prevention. That's 7 percent of the $157 million federal health officials recommend spending.
Sen. Terry Link - a Waukegan Democrat - says work continues, such as with his bill that failed last year to make university campuses smoke-free.
CHICAGO (AP) - Federal officials say more than 7,000 Illinois residents signed up for insurance coverage in the first two months of the troubled HealthCare.gov website.
Enrollment figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show the pace picking up for President Barack Obama's new health insurance markets.
But the Illinois tally is still less than 30 percent of what federal officials originally projected the state's enrollment would be after two months. Illinois is relying on the federal website because the Legislature didn't approve a state-run marketplace
Consumers face a Dec. 23 enrollment deadline if they want to have coverage to start Jan. 1.
In October, when the website was barely working, only 1,370 Illinois residents managed to select a health insurance plan and enroll.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A major credit-rating house has taken a more positive outlook on Illinois debt than it has in years after last week's pension-reform vote.
Standard & Poor's affirmed its A- rating on state debt backed by general tax revenue Tuesday but revised its outlook from "negative" to "developing."
The ratings agency says "developing" means the rating could be raised or lowered in the next two years. Analyst Robin Prunty says the change is positive but risk remains because workers unions will likely sue over the pension law Gov. Pat Quinn signed Thursday.
The law reduces state workers' contributions to pensions but cuts their benefits in a 30-year plan to erase a $100 billion retirement-account deficit.
Quinn promised in a statement it would be the "first of many positive developments" for Illinois.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says the state will build or rehabilitate nearly 1,500 affordable housing units statewide.
The Chicago Democrat said in a statement yesterday the apartments will ensure working families, seniors and people with disabilities have quality, affordable housing.
The work will be financed through a federal housing tax credit and the Illinois Housing Development Authority's Preservation Now program.
Residents must earn at or below 60 percent of the area median income to qualify for the units. That's about $35,000 in the Chicago area.
In Edwardsville, an existing independent living development serving seniors and people with disabilities will be rehabilitated, and a new wing built, creating and preserving 70 affordable apartments.
In Aurora, the state plans to acquire and rehabilitate 40 vacant single-family homes. In Chicago, a 106-unit development for seniors will be built on the site of an abandoned building and unused tennis courts.
Units also are planned for the Bloomington-Normal area, Galesburg, Marion and Springfield.
CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois has taken a giant step toward fixing its biggest financial problem by approving a major pension overhaul this week. But lawmakers' inaction on tax incentives aimed at keeping companies in Illinois has triggered new concerns about the state's business climate.
The Senate and a House committee considered legislation giving tax breaks to Archer Daniels Midland Company, chemical distributor Univar and newly-merged OfficeMax and Office Depot. But the House adjourned after the pension vote, essentially pushing the issue into 2014.
The slow action, at least in the business world, could mean other states with interest in taking Illinois jobs have more of a chance to swoop in.
Still, lawmakers say they had no other choice. Their first priority was approving a plan aimed at fixing Illinois' $100 billion pension crisis.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - With the fight over solving Illinois' worst-in-the-nation pension shortfall moving to the courts, the state faces a grim possibility: The plan could be tossed, and Illinois could wind up in an even deeper fiscal hole.
Lawmakers approved a bill Tuesday that they say eliminates the $100 billion unfunded pension liability, largely by cutting benefits.
Labor unions say it's unconstitutional and plan to sue once Gov. Pat Quinn signs it.
Court rulings on similar cases elsewhere have varied.
A bankruptcy judge in Detroit said Tuesday that city pensions can be cut.
But in Arizona a court said asking employees to contribute more to their retirement was illegal and made the state repay workers, with interest.
Experts say that could happen in Illinois, which has some of the country's stronger pension protections.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says the people of Illinois have won after lawmakers approved a major overhaul aimed at solving the state's $100 billion pension crisis.
In a Tuesday statement, Quinn calls it "landmark legislation" that will ensure retirement security.
The Chicago Democrat has made pension reform a top priority for two years, but efforts had been unsuccessfully including previous special sessions and his social media campaign. More recently, Quinn had refused to take a paycheck until lawmakers came up with a comprehensive solution.
The Illinois House and Senate approved a bill that's estimated to save roughly $160 billion over the next three decades.
However, unions were opposed to the measure, calling it unfair and questioning its legality.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois' House Speaker told a bipartisan legislative committee that the state's pension systems are "just too rich" to be afforded in the future.
Madigan is a Chicago Democrat and the state's longest-serving House Speaker. He says Tuesday that a $160 billion reform proposal was designed to keep long-term low-income workers in mind.
He called the plan a balanced approach, "not just a reduction in benefits."
Leaders announced the compromise last week. A vote is expected Tuesday afternoon.
The proposal pushes back workers' retirement age on a sliding scale, has a funding guarantee, adds a 401(k)-style option and reduces employee contributions.
It'd also replace the current 3 percent annual cost-of-living increases. Retirees would continue to receive that rate up to a certain amount of annuity payments, based on years of employment.
CHICAGO (AP) - Public employees could see significant reductions in long-term retirement income under a proposed bill that Illinois legislative leaders are pushing as a way to solve the worst-in-the-nation pension crisis. One of the biggest cuts would come from a change in annual cost-of-living adjustments. The proposal would change the COLA increase from the current rate of 3 percent compounded annually on the full annuity benefit. Retirees instead would receive increases at that rate only up to a certain amount of annuity benefit.
The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability has developed a formula to calculate estimated changes in retirement income over the years if the bill passes, based on the best information available right now, pension specialist Amanda Kass said.
Here are three scenarios:
Employee 1: Retired teacher, 30 years of service
Initial annual benefit: $67,000
Annual pension benefit after 20 years of retirement: $120,680 a year under the current pension system; $91,000 under the proposed changes
Cumulative 20-year decrease: $282,632
Employee 2: Retired Department of Children and Family Services caseworker, 20 years of service
Initial annual benefit: $50,000
Annual pension benefit after 20 years of retirement: $90,306 under current system; $63,000 under proposed changes
Cumulative 20-year decrease: $261,215
Employee 3: Central Management Services data processor, age 43, planning to retire in 15 years with 30 years of service
Initial annual benefit: $72,000
Annual pension benefit after 20 years of retirement: $130,000 under current system; $85,400 under proposed changes
Cumulative 20-year decrease: $441,700