Illinois governor signs pension overhaul into law
CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn has signed into law a landmark overhaul aimed at fixing Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.
The law reducing retirement benefits for state employees takes effect in June, but court challenges are expected. Several unions have called the benefit cuts unconstitutional.
Illinois' unfunded pension system is considered the worst in the nation after lawmakers skipped or shorted payments for years.
The legislation was unveiled last week and is expected to save $160 billion over three decades.
Among other things, the plan signed into law Thursday pushes back the retirement age on a sliding scale for those 45 and younger. It also caps the salary on which a pension benefit is based and lowers the employee contribution.
Businesses concerned about inaction on incentives
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.
Illinois metro unemployment mixed in October
CHICAGO (AP) - The state Department of Employment Security said local unemployment rates were mixed across Illinois in October. Some of the increases were sharp, though.
The department said today that rates fell in six metro areas but increased in five and held steady in one.
Unemployment rose from 9.5 percent in October 2012 to 11.3 percent in Danville. In Decatur the figure jumped from 10.1 percent to 11.7. And in Peoria joblessness rose from 7.6 to 8.7 percent. Layoffs by heavy equipment-maker Caterpillar Inc. have affected both Peoria and Decatur.
Unemployment in the Chicago-Joliet-Naperville metro area fell from 8.4 percent to 8.3 percent.
The department also released September figures delayed by the federal government shutdown. Jobless rates fell in six metro areas and increased in five. One was unchanged.
Ex-owner of Chicago window factory gets 4 years
CHICAGO (AP) - The former owner and CEO of a Chicago factory where employees staged a high-profile sit-in in 2008 has been sentenced to four years in prison for stealing millions from his failing company.
Before today's sentencing, 60-year-old Richard Gillman pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft, including for moving money from Republic Windows and Doors to a shell corporation. A Cook County judge also imposed a $100,000 fine.
The state's attorney's office says Gillman's sentencing comes five years to the day the plant was abruptly closed. That prompted more than 200 workers to occupy the manufacturer for six days, saying they were owed unpaid wages. The worker's action drew national attention.
After the plant's closure, some former workers formed their own company. It continues to operate.
First Ford Mustang owner helps welcome new model
DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) - Gail Wise didn't know she was getting anything special when she drove away from a Chicago Ford dealership in the spring of 1964 in the first Mustang ever sold.
The Park Ridge woman paid $3,347 for the car and was happy to have a convertible.
It wasn't until the then 22-year-old third-grade teacher was on the road, with other drivers honking and flagging her down, that she realized what she had.
Wise says she "felt like a movie star" when she was behind the wheel.
She was in Michigan today to celebrate the unveiling of the 2015 version of the iconic pony car. With her was her original Mustang convertible, which still sits in her suburban Chicago garage.
Wise still occasionally drives her Mustang, which has been fully restored. She got $400 toward the price when she traded in a 1958 Chevrolet.
CHICAGO TRANSIT-TRAIN UPGRADES
CTA to upgrade trains from O'Hare, downtown
CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Transit Authority is planning a $492 million upgrade to a portion of the agency's rail lines that could cut 10 minutes off the time to travel between O'Hare International Airport and the city's downtown.
The four-year project announced today includes improvements to a 12.5-mile stretch of the CTA's Blue Line, which runs to the airport and downtown. The project also includes repairs or major renovations to 11 stations as well as the elimination of certain slow zones.
City officials say the project would be the biggest investment on the rail line since it was extended to reach the airport 30 years ago.
Authorities say passengers took 25 million rides last year along the section of the Blue Line that runs between downtown and O'Hare.
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