Midwest Memo: Budget Cuts In Illinois, Surprising Home Sales And The UAW Plans Protests

Budget cuts Illinois Governor Pat Quinn outlined plans yesterday to cut the state’s pension costs and Medicaid programs. Partner station WBEZ Chicago says Quinn also plans to close two prisons and consolidate dozens of state offices.

Teacher teacher The Wall Street Journal looks at a shakeup for poor performing schools in Chicago, and sees a trend. More Democratic mayors are challenging teacher unions.

Clean energy ballot push Partner station WCPN Ideastream Cleveland reports there’s a new ballot initiative underway that would let voters choose whether the state should borrow billions to invest in clean energy. Turns out, environmentalists have nothing to do with the ballot initiative.

Surprise! It sold A busy real estate market is surprising some sellers in Northeast Ohio. Home sales were up more than 25 percent for the region in January, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

UAW protest plans The conservative web site, The Daily Caller, says it’s found evidence that the UAW plans to train 100,000 people for “The 99% Spring” protest movement. The Detroit News has a story. Changing Gears has discussed the UAW’s connection to the movement before.

Going private Proposals in Michigan would open the door to privately-run prisons.

Windy city The city of Milwaukee’s wind turbine is officially up!

Midwest Memo: Workers In Wisconsin, Privatization Problems In Michigan And A Novel Class For Chicago Police

Wisconsin woes Changing Gears’ Niala Boodhoo has the second in a two-part report on how life has changed for public workers in Wisconsin, a year after the labor battle began. In today’s story, she reports that police officers and firefighters, who were originally meant to be exempt from the state’s cuts, are still feeling the pain.

Another deal, another vote The United Steelworkers has another tentative contract with the Timken Co. for workers at a plant near Canton, Ohio. Workers turned down the last agreement. If they approve this one, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports the company says it will make a $225 million investment to upgrade the plant.

State of the speech Partner station WCPN Ideastream reports Ohio Governor John Kasich focused on the economy during his State of the State speech last night.

Privatization problems An effort to privatize Michigan’s prisons and save $93 million in this year’s budget is stalled. The problem is that private contractors would have to pay prison workers the minimum wage $7.40 an hour. The Detroit News reports the state currently pays the workers a tenth of that amount.

Tax and switch Gas could get a lot cheaper in Michigan soon. But don’t worry, you’ll still lose that extra money another way. Lawmakers in Michigan are looking at a plan to replace the state’s 19 cents/gallon gas tax with a 1 percent increase in the overall sales tax. Partner station Michigan Radio says the idea is meant to increase funding for road repairs.

A novel class Chicago Police officers are getting a chance to try out a different profession: novelist. According to The New York Times, the police department has started offering voluntary writing classes for officers.