(SPRINGFIELD) The Illinois Senate has approved raising public school teacher salaries to a minimum of $40,000 a year. On a 37 to 16 vote, the approved bill will increase minimum full-time teacher salaries over the next five years, mostly in hopes of attracting more teachers to a state that’s facing a growing shortage. Some downstate lawmakers say the state cannot afford to pay the increased pension costs associated with a pay raise and that while the state is billions of dollars in debt, it shouldn’t be making promises it can’t keep.
(SPRINGFIELD) The first African-American justice to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court is retiring. The court announced yesterday that Justice Charles E. Freeman will retire effective June 14. The 84 year old from Chicago served more than 27 years, including roughly 3 years as Chief Justice. Freeman was an Assistant Illinois Attorney General before he became a Cook County Circuit Court Judge in 1976. He was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court in 1990. The high court, which has the constitutional authority to fill interim vacancies, has named Appellate Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr. to fill the seat thru December 7, 2020.
(MT. VERNON) The Rend Lake Conservancy District has issued a boil order for all 175,000 customers who receive water through their system that covers seven counties. Officials say a breach in a 36-inch water distribution line at the Rend Lake Conservancy water plant near Benton is the reason for the loss of water service. Workers worked through Wednesday night to try to patch the pipe, but that failed. The workers are now trying to create a bypass for one of the three high-service pumps to restore some water to the system. The City of Mt. Vernon declared a state of emergency yesterday as the town was expected to run out of water late last night. Officials say the by-pass work should near completion sometime on Friday.