MELROSE PARK, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says the focus of his upcoming trip to Mexico is jobs and increasing trade and Illinois tourism.
The Chicago Democrat departs tomorrow for the three-day trip. He'll be the first Illinois governor to visit Mexico in 13 years.
His meetings will focus on water treatment and technology in Mexico for Illinois companies.
He'll also meet with Mexico's secretary of agriculture, mayors and state governors.
Quinn told reporters Tuesday that Illinois and Mexico have many ties and it's important to strengthen them.
The delegation will include representatives from Motorola Solutions, GSG Consultants and Elan Technologies.
Quinn says he's paying his own way for the trip through his campaign fund.
He spoke yesterday just days after House lawmakers approved their third pension-related bill. The latest would reduce and delay cost-of-living increases in state employees' retirement pay.
Pensions have been Quinn's top issue for more than a year. He says lawmakers' work last week was a step in the right direction but there's further to go. Quinn says any reform package should address retirement age and pensionable salary.
Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension debt because lawmakers skipped or shorted pension payments for years.
House lawmakers recently OK'd bills that would cap the salary on which benefits are based to the limit set for Social Security and delay the retirement age incrementally.
The lottery says that Northstar Lottery Group projected net income of about $851 million for fiscal year 2012. The lottery says profits actually were $757 million, about $95 million short. Northstar took over management of the Illinois Lottery in July 2011.
Quinn told reporters after an unrelated event in Chicago that the management model needs improvement. He didn't offer many specifics but says one fix could be trying to attract more people to play the lottery.
The profit targets are part of a management agreement between the lottery and Northstar. The agreement says Northstar must pay the lottery $20 million if it doesn't reach the target.
The Chicago Democrat delivered a budget address Wednesday that calls for about $400 million in cuts to education.
Quinn says early childhood development is crucial as is the Illinois Monetary Award Program, or MAP grant program.
Quinn says access to higher education is fundamental to a student's earning potential.
Quinn says the cuts to education are because of lawmakers' inaction on the pension crisis. He says trying to catch up on a nearly $100 billion pension hole is crowding out spending on other areas, particularly education.
Gov. Pat Quinn ordered Dwight penitentiary closed to save money. But state officials have not revealed how and when the women's facility would be shuttered.
A draft Department of Corrections memo obtained yesterday by the AP indicates the closure process began Feb. 28, with the transfer of male inmates at Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln to prisons in Canton, Centralia, Danville, Hillsboro, and Vienna.
Those medium-security inmates would move into cells vacated by minimum-security inmates who will move into temporary housing in gymnasiums.
The women from Dwight will then move into the vacated cells at Logan.
The Chicago Democrat will propose slashing $400 million from education in the fiscal year that starts July 1. It also will pin the blame for the cuts on lawmakers' failure to fix the state's worst-in-the-nation pension problem.
The automatic fund transfers include more than $2 billion in spending that Quinn's aides describe as "on autopilot." The amount those programs receive is set in state statute. Trying to cut it is likely to cause a contentious debate.
Quinn's proposed budget also attempts to pay down $2 billion in unpaid bills.
Krumrei takes over for Congressman William Enyart, a retired major general who was elected to Congress as a Democrat last November. He had been in command of the Illinois National Guard since 2007.
Krumrei was command staff chaplain for the Illinois National Guard since 2005. Gov. Pat Quinn in December appointed him to take over for Enyart.
Krumrei assumed command in a ceremony over the weekend at a high school in the central Illinoi community of Chatham.
Roughly 13,000 people serve in the Illinois National Guard.
The Thursday morning meeting was canceled for lack of quorum because of the three vacancies and the absence of a fourth trustee.
That came a day after the Illinois Senate overwhelmingly rejected Quinn's appointments of three replacements for three board members whose terms expired last month.
Wednesday's failed ratification vote continues a year-old power struggle at SIU.
The rift dates to early last year when the SIU board refused to give Quinn-appointed Roger Herrin another term as chairman. The board contended he was too involved in day-to-day operations. Those who voted to oust Herrin included the three members Quinn replaced this week.
In an open letter to lawmakers Sunday, 23 Latino leaders say all families deserve to be treated with respect.
Among those signing the letter are former Chicago City Clerk Miguel Del Valle and Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum.
The Illinois Senate approved a bill earlier this month that would end the state's ban on same-sex marriage. A House committee is expected to consider it Tuesday.
If it passes the House Gov. Pat Quinn has said he will sign the legislation, making Illinois the 10th state where same-sex couples may marry.
Opponents say the proposal endangers religious freedom and diminishes the sanctity of marriage.
The Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit provides low-income families with tax relief and an incentive to work. But the nonprofit Center for Economic Progress estimates between 10 to 20 percent of eligible taxpayers didn't file for the credit last year.
In an event at Truman College in Chicago Saturday, Quinn said he wants to get the word out about how eligible people may apply for the tax relief.
Families earning less than $50,000 annually and individuals making less than $25,000 may qualify for free tax preparation help at assistance centers across the state.
A list of assistance centers and other information about the tax credit is online.