Days ahead of Gov. Pat Quinn’s State of the State address, his budget director has sent lawmakers a letter detailing “encouraging” developments on Illinois’ billions in unpaid bills. The Sunday letter says the backlog will be $5.6 billion by fiscal year’s end, down from roughly $10 billion. Budget chief Jerry Stermer says if progress continues Illinois will be in line with “private-sector benchmarks.” Republicans say the backlog is still too high and the 2011 income tax increase was pitched to fix it. The increase expires next year. Quinn has been noncommittal on if he’ll push for an extension. A budget spokesman says there isn’t a connection between the letter and Quinn’s Wednesday speech. He says Quinn will later outline budget issues.
The city of Springfield's new micro-lending program has given out a total of $120,000 in loans.
The people trying to turn ideas into commerce at the University of Illinois have a $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation in a program called AWARE.
A crowdfunding campaign hopes to raise the final $7,500 needed to bring a possibly 180-year piano back to playable condition.
Authorities in southern Illinois say foul play is not suspected in the death of a 22-year-old Murphysboro woman whose body…