News Headlines – February 15, 2018

Last Updated on February 14th, 2018

Written by Paul Bomleny

>>Rauner Unveils Budget 

(Chicago, IL) — Governor Rauner is pushing for extensive changes in public pension systems and cuts to employee health care as the keys to his 38-billion-dollar balanced budget.  In his budget address, Rauner said making schools pay more of their teachers’ pensions and cutting retiree health care will save the state about one-point-three-billion-dollars and pave the way for a tax cut.  He said the people of Illinois are taxed out and that a tax cut should be the number one priority for lawmakers.  Rauner’s primary election opponent Jeanne Ives called Rauner’s budget phony.  Democrats said shifting school pension costs to local taxes penalizes poor districts.

>>Two New Legionnaires Cases Confirmed At Quincy Veterans Home 

(Springfield, IL)  —  There are new howls from Illinois lawmakers after the state’s Department of Public Health confirmed two new cases of Legionnaires Disease at the veterans home in Quincy. The IDPH confirmed the cases late Monday night, and yesterday morning lawmakers started demanding answers and accountability. Democratic state Senator Tom Cullerton yesterday said that there’s no more time to waste on task forces and dodging questions. He wants to know immediately how the state intends to fix the problems at the home. So far 13 people at the home have died from Legionnaires since 2015, and dozens more have gotten sick. 

>>Speaker Madigan Refuses To Step Down Amid Harassment Questions 

(Springfield, IL)  —  Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan says he’s not stepping down, even as there are more questions about how he and his campaign handled a sexual harassment complaint last year. Madigan told reporters at the statehouse yesterday that he intends to stand up to the governor, but didn’t answer many of the questions raised by former campaign worker Alaina Hampton who complained about the behavior of a top Madigan politico a year ago. One of the Democrats running for governor, Chris Kennedy, said Madigan needs to resign immediately. 

>>No Charges For Peoria Teacher Accused Of Sex With Student 

(Peoria, IL)  —  Prosecutors in Peoria say they aren’t filing charges yet against a local high school teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with a student. Richwoods High School teacher Phillip Earhart walked out of jail yesterday without being charged. Peoria County States’ Attorney Jerry Brady said that doesn’t mean charges won’t be filed. Earhart is on paid leave while police and Peoria school leaders look into the allegations against him. 

>>Trial Delayed For Southern Illinois Man Accused Of Killing Parents 

(Murphysboro, IL)  —  It’ll be the summer before the man accused of gunning down his parents last year could be before a jury. A judge Jackson County yesterday delayed Keith Ritcheson’s murder trial for several months. Ritcheson’s lawyers say they need to go through the evidence in the case. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is not saying why they think that Ritcheson shot and killed his parents Brenda and Burl. 

>>Charges Dropped Against Suburban Cop In Drug Ring 

(Wheaton, IL)  —  A former Schaumburg police officer isn’t going to trial on charges that he dealt drugs while on the force. Prosecutors in DuPage County yesterday dropped the charges against John Cichy. Police had said that he and two other officers forced confidential informants to sell drugs that they seized. The other officers, Matthew Hudak and Terrance O’Brien, are serving more than 20 years in prison for their roles in the drug ring. Prosecutors say they didn’t have enough evidence against Cichy to take the case to trial.