Champaign Unit 4 school bus monitors, cafeteria workers now make at least $15 an hour

CHAMPAIGN — Custodians, assistant teachers and other support staff in the Champaign Unit 4 School District are all making at least $15 an hour, as of July 1. Both the school board and members of the Champaign Educational Support Professionals union approved a new, four-year contract last week. “Knowing what we proposed in the very […]

Temporary tax relief measures to begin Friday in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – Illinoisans will receive some modest tax relief starting Friday when the state’s new fiscal year begins. That includes some income tax rebates, property tax rebates, a suspension of the state’s 1 percent tax on groceries, and a six-month pause on the scheduled inflationary increase in the state’s motor fuel tax. Gov. JB Pritzker […]

State audit finds billions in unemployment fraud

SPRINGFIELD – A state audit released Thursday found nearly $2 billion in federal money intended to help unemployed Illinoisans during the pandemic was lost to fraudulent claims in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Employment Security blamed “insufficient and flawed federal guidance” and a lack of controls on a hastily constructed program put together by the […]

Caterpillar moving its headquarters to Texas from Illinois

DEERFIELD — Construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar says it’s packing up its headquarters from its longtime home state of Illinois and heading to Texas. Caterpillar Inc. said Tuesday that it’s transferring its global base to Irving, Texas, from the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, Illinois. The company had been based in Peoria, Illinois, for over 90 years […]

Bike shortage takes on new form because of price hikes and supply-chain issues

CHAMPAIGN – As Champaign Cycle slowly returns to its normal inventory, it’s experiencing price increases in bikes and bike parts that are indicative of the ongoing national bicycle shortage, which began after the sudden increase in sales at the beginning of the pandemic. As of May 13, a report from Statista found that Americans spent […]

Champaign County survey is the first step in filling rural internet gaps

URBANA — Surveyors will start knocking on doors in rural Champaign County this weekend to ask residents if they are happy with their internet service. Champaign County officials commissioned the survey to find the most efficient way to close internet gaps with $3 million in COVID-19 relief. “There might be a way that we can […]

How to recycle a 150-foot wind turbine blade? Haul it to Louisiana, MO

LOUISIANA, Mo. — In the small community of Louisiana, Missouri, it’s not uncommon to see what looks like massive white wings traveling down the road, strapped to flatbed tractor-trailers. Once a bustling commercial port, the historic Mississippi River town 90 miles north of St. Louis has become a hub for an unusual commodity: used wind […]

ANALYSIS: Fuel retailers sue over ‘compelled speech’ at the gas pump

“As of July 1, 2022, the State of Illinois has suspended the inflation adjustment to the motor fuel tax through December 31, 2022. The price on this pump should reflect the suspension of the tax increase.” Those two sentences may be coming to a gas pump near you – unless a trade group representing gas […]

How small companies bring fast internet to rural places that telecom giants ignore

Installing fiber-optic internet in sparsely populated places like western Kansas is extremely expensive, even with government subsidies. But some smaller, local broadband providers are finding ways to make it work where the big national companies have not. https://cpa.ds.npr.org/s8/audio/2022/05/050222-dc-sk-ruralbroadband-webmix.mp3 HAYS, Kansas — With a family of five and a farming operation to run, Clay Scott’s home […]

Baby formula shortage less acute in Champaign, but tough for food insecure families

CHAMPAIGN – While the nationwide shortage of infant formula is less severe in Champaign County than elsewhere, it has hit low-income families hardest – because of state policy. Brandon Meline is the director of maternal and child health at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. He says the relatively high number of grocery stores and pharmacies […]

Fitch raises Illinois credit rating two notches

Rating agency cites ‘fundamental improvement’ in state’s fiscal outlook SPRINGFIELD – Fitch Ratings on Thursday raised the state of Illinois’ rating for general obligation bonds two notches, to BBB+, making it the second rating agency to do so in recent weeks and marking the fourth time the state has received a credit upgrade in the […]

The US jobs market continues its strong comeback from the pandemic

WASHINGTON — The U.S. job market remains red-hot. Employers added jobs 428,000 jobs in April, extending a remarkable comeback in the labor market. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.6% — matching its lowest level since the start of the pandemic. The economy has now replaced nearly 95% of the jobs that were lost when […]

The Dow rallies to its best day since 2020 after the Fed rules out larger rate hikes

NEW YORK –Stocks rallied on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by half a percentage point, but ruled out lifting them by larger amounts going forward. The Fed is waging a tough fight against inflation, delivering on Wednesday its biggest rate hike in more than two decades. But investors were relieved after Fed […]

Georgia sets $1.5B in aid for electric vehicle maker Rivian

ATLANTA — The state of Georgia and local governments will give Rivian Automotive $1.5 billion of incentives to build a 7,500-job, $5 billion electric vehicle plant. That’s according to documents the company and state signed Monday. That’s by far the largest incentive package Georgia has ever offered to a company. Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Pat […]