Illinois Budget 2.25.09

Here are the top Illinois stories coming today from GateHouse News Service. Stories are available at www.gatehousenewsservice.com. Please check www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/news in the evening for changes to story lineup, including breaking news.

If your paper has a story, digest item, opinion piece or standalone photo to share, please e-mail it to Illinois@gatehousemedia.com.

Contacts:
Casey Laughman: (217) 816-3343, claughman@gatehousemedia.com

GATEHOUSE NEWSROOM

See the GateHouse photos of the week at
http://ghnewsroom.com/article/best-gatehouse-photos-week-feb-18-24

Chris Biondi: Do the math: Journalism and the numbers
http://ghnewsroom.com/article/do-math-journalism-and-numbers

Redesign: Canton, Ohio rolls out bold new look to readers
http://ghnewsroom.com/article/redesign-canton-ohio-rolls-out-bold-new-look-readers

TODAY’S SPOTLIGHT:

Quinn says deficit could exceed $9 billion projection

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Pat Quinn says the state's massive budget hole could be bigger than $9 billion by next year, creating a crisis unlike any Illinois has ever seen. Quinn, in an impromptu discussion with reporters after a Wednesday meeting at the Capitol with Senate Republicans, said the state's budget picture could get worse as the world's economy continues to falter. That could mean very difficult budget decisions facing him and lawmakers, although Quinn wouldn't commit to pushing tax increases or other solutions. By Doug Finke of the State Capitol bureau. Early version posted; will be updated. With a short breakout covering Quinn's planned announcement Thursday about reopening shuttered state parks.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1237123571

ILLINOIS NEWS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/news

State Briefs. News from around the state. Will be posted this evening.

BURRIS FOR SENATE: Roland Burris set up a “Burris for Senate” campaign Web site even before he was appointed to his current seat. By Bruce Rushton of the State Journal-Register. Will be posted this evening.

MEDICAID MONEY: State government is trying to sort out the details for hospitals and other health care providers for the $470 million in cash it's starting to receive from the recently approved federal stimulus package. By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol bureau. Will be posted this evening.

EDUCATION BOARD: The Illinois House has approved legislation to change the way that appointments are made to the State Board of Education. The measure, which next heads to the state Senate, would set up a "nominating panel" to vet prospective nominees. This panel would narrow down the choices to three people for each board vacancy, and the governor's final selection would have to be one of those three. By Adriana Colindres of the State Capitol bureau. Will be posted this evening.

Science fiction author Philip Jose Farmer dead at 91

PEORIA – Science fiction author Philip Jose Farmer died Wednesday morning at his home. He was 91. The Peoria-based writer had written more than 75 books and was awarded the top honors in his field. That includes the Grand Master Award for Science Fiction in 2001, an award also given to noted authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein. By Terry Bibo of the Peoria Journal Star. Early version posted; will be updated.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/entertainment/x617066813

ILLINOIS BUSINESS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois_business

Rockford Memorial has critical success with training program

ROCKFORD – Rockford Memorial Hospital is calling its fledgling critical-care nursing program a success, having recently accepted a second round of nurses to train in six areas. Hospital officials started the program last fall in efforts to address a nationwide nursing shortage that will especially affect areas in which the work is more fast-paced and challenging. The American Nurses Association reports that the supply of nurses will fall 36 percent, or more than 1 million people, below requirements by 2020. By Melissa Westphal of the Rockford Register Star. To localize: Check with local hospitals to see how they are fighting nursing shortages.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1959825232

ILLINOIS LIFESTYLES
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois_lifestyle

Cardiologists offer up cuisine that'll keep your ticker healthy

PEORIA – It might be true that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Cardiology and dietary experts at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center are taking it a step further during American Heart Month. They believe a man’s — or woman’s — stomach can guide the way to a healthy heart. By Ryan Ori of the Peoria Journal Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/lifestyle/health/x1362385109

Group matches Labs to new families

ROCKFORD – When the phone rings, Chris Wallen knows the story might be different, but the problem will be the same: This dog is just too big for our house. We lost our jobs and can’t afford our dog anymore. For Wallen, a lifetime dog lover, those scenarios are simply too sad. That’s why she and a network of 100 volunteers are pouring time into the Labrador Education And Rescue Network, more commonly known as LEARN. By Elizabeth Davies of the Rockford Register Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x594723660

‘Kismet’ is a trip back in time

SPRINGFIELD – "Kismet” is one of those musicals that, even if you think you don’t know it, you’ve probably heard some its best-known songs. “Everybody knows the music from this in the back of their mind,” said Doug Hahn, who is directing a concert version of the musical this weekend at the Hoogland Center for the Arts. By Brian Mackey of the State Journal-Register.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1362385112

Give beets a chance

SPRINGFIELD – President Barack Obama hasn’t hit 100 days in office, and already there’s been a red scare. He hates beets. By Kathryn Rem of the State Journal-Register.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/lifestyle/food/x617065271

ILLINOIS OPINIONS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/opinions

BRITT: Toon on President Obama and his changing war policy. Will be posted this evening.

Amanda Jacobs: Coming to terms with the Snuggie

The first time I saw the commercial, I laughed and dismissed it as another ridiculous fad that would disappear as soon as a new, exciting product like the ShamWow came along. Sure, the Snuggie (The Blanket with Sleeves!) might keep you warm, but it also makes you look like you’re ready for classes at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x844643544

Phil Luciano: Gun crimes should be a big deal for educators

At what point does the off-hours conduct of educators become relevant to their schools and students? Sometimes, the answer is cut and dry. Certain crimes, mostly those involving sexual misconduct, will automatically cost teachers their jobs. But sometimes questionable off-hours activities, even crimes, do not necessarily or specifically call for a pink slip. So that brings us to a question: At what point, if ever, does a gun crime call for discipline of an educator?
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1959825180

Editorial: Inspiring stories connected by a deadly disease

A young mother of a high school basketball player in Milwaukee dies, setting into motion an inspiring story of sportsmanship involving the DeKalb High School team. A loud-mouthed and brash reality TV star in Britain marries with just weeks to live, generating tender feelings toward the young woman — feelings that Britons never expected. Both these stories are connected by the disease of cervical cancer. An editorial from the Rockford Register Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/opinions/editorials/x844643538

Editorial: State salary data ought to be online

Putting a database of government employee salaries online is not exactly a revolutionary idea. Doing just a cursory Internet search turns up dozens of databases for city, state and federal employee salaries across the country. So we found puzzling Tuesday’s opposition to a state database of employee salaries by a representative of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. We believe the state should create a searchable, often-updated clearinghouse for such information. An editorial from the State Journal-Register.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x1362384962

Editorial: Keep hands on the wheel, not on the cell phone

Anyone who's ever had to swerve out of the way for a driver straddling two lanes of traffic while text-messaging, or had to honk at a stoplight to get a driver typing out a message to pay attention to the road again, is probably going to like an idea floating around the state Legislature: tickets and fines for behind-the-wheel texters. An editorial from the Peoria Journal Star.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/x844643535

ILLINOIS SPORTS
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/regional_news/midwest/illinois/sports

ILLINI:

TOUGH TALK: When Illinois sophomore forward Mike Davis talks with his dad, he hears straight talk. His father is one reason why Davis is starting to understand the big picture and push himself to new heights. Serves as Illinois-Minnesota preview. With preview capsule. By John Supinie. Will be posted this afternoon.

Illini co-defensive coordinator turns down South Florida

CHAMPAIGN – Illinois co-defensive coordinator Dan Disch has turned down an offer to become the defensive coordinator at South Florida. The former Jacksonville, Fla., high school coach, who has deep recruiting ties in that area, told Illinois coach Ron Zook on Wednesday morning that he is staying with the program. By John Supinie.
http://www.gatehousenewsservice.com/sports/big_10/x844643663