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This Hour: Latest Illinois news, sports, business and entertainment

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Chicago school board approves $5.8 billion budget

CHICAGO (AP) - The Chicago Board of Education has approved what officials say is a "stop-gap budget" that doesn't solve the school district's long-term financial problems.

The Civic Federation, a watchdog group, criticized the $5.8 billion budget Wednesday as "gimmick-based" for using a one-time accounting fix to balance the year's budget.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett admitted the budget is not sustainable beyond next year, adding new revenue and help from the state is the only way to end its financial problems. She said pension reform is particularly needed.

CPS officials say the budget transfers $72 million from traditional schools to charter schools. In addition, some neighborhood schools are getting fewer dollars because of declines in enrollment. District officials say the budget also cuts spending at the central office.


Ruling: Records in Bloomington case are public

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office says the Illinois State Police must hand over records requested by the Pantagraph newspaper in Bloomington in the investigation of a former police office.

According to The Pantagraph, State Police declined to release the records in the investigation of Brent VanHoveln. The ruling from the attorney general's found the State Police's argument that the records were protected because the investigation is ongoing isn't correct.

VanHoveln was fired in May and charged with official misconduct and forgery for allegedly falsifying 11 traffic tickets. Court records indicate he has not yet entered a plea.

VanHoveln has filed a grievance through the Policeman's Benevolent and Protection Association over his firing.

A review of the city of Bloomington's decision to withhold records in the case is pending.


High school track coach accused of sexual assault

CHICAGO (AP) - A volunteer track coach at Chicago's Simeon Career Academy has been charged with raping a student in a school office and groping two other students.

Gerald L. Gaddy was ordered held Wednesday in lieu of $300,000 bond on aggravated criminal sexual abuse, criminal sexual assault, and aggravated battery charges.

Prosecutors say Gaddy had "inappropriate sexual contact" with three girls, ages 15, 16 and 17 between Jan. 1 and June 25. The 42-year-old man was arrested at his home Tuesday.

Assistant State's Attorney Elizabeth Novy says Gaddy's alleged misconduct was revealed to school administrators by a student in whom one of the alleged victims confided.

School district spokesman Joel Hood says Gaddy has been barred from Chicago Public Schools activities.

A public defender representing Gaddy didn't comment on the case.


Trial date set for 1 of 4 charged in Joliet deaths

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) - A Will County judge says the new trial date for one of four people accused in a 2013 double homicide will be next month.

The Southtown Star reported Wednesday that Judge Gerald Kinney set 20-year-old Bethany McKee's trial for start Aug 4. Her trial was expected to start this week but her attorney asked for a delay after prosecutors turned over new evidence.

She's one of four charged in the strangling deaths of Eric Glover and Terrance Rankins.

Twenty-year-old Alisa Massaro pleaded guilty in May to robbery and concealment of a homicidal death in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence. Trial dates for 26-year-old Joshua Miner and 21-year-old Adam Landerman haven't been set.

Prosecutors say the men were strangled and drugs and money stolen from them.


US seeks to strip ex-charity head of citizenship

CHICAGO (AP) - The Justice Department is taking steps to strip U.S. citizenship from a former Islamic charity director for allegedly not disclosing his support for extremist groups.

A government filing on Wednesday in federal court in Chicago accuses Enaam Arnaout of lying in his 1993 application to become a naturalized citizen. It says that included lies about alleged ties to Osama bin Laden.

In a statement later Wednesday, defense lawyer Thomas Durkin called the bid to revoke his Syrian-born client's citizenship "wrongheaded" and "vindictive." Durkin says it's part of what he calls "the government's ubiquitous and unending War on Terror."

Arnaout pleaded guilty in 2003 to defrauding donors to his Benevolence International foundation. The suburban Chicago man was released from prison in 2010.

He's denied allegations he ever raised money for terrorists.


Cook County voters will get guns ballot question

CHICAGO (AP) - November voters in Cook County will get a chance to weigh in on Illinois gun laws.

The Cook County Board voted Wednesday to put two non-binding measures on the ballot. One asks whether the state should require universal background checks for gun sales and ban assault weapons and ammunition magazines.

The other asks if the state should increase funding for mental health.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the guns measure got unanimous support from Democrats on the board.

Gov. Pat Quinn has unsuccessfully tried to ban assault weapons and ammunition magazines in Illinois. In a Wednesday statement he praised both measures.

The mental health funding advisory referendum got a unanimous vote.

Statewide, Illinois voters will see a number of other nonbinding questions, including on raising the minimum wage.


Standard & Poor's gives Illinois negative outlook

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has changed its outlook on Illinois' credit rating for the worse.

The agency Wednesday revised its outlook from "developing" to "negative" on Illinois' A-minus rating.

S&P says the state's $35.7 billion budget isn't structurally balanced. It also cites an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that found the state can't force retirees to pay for part of their health care.

The case is seen as a possible indicator of how the court will rule on a challenge to the statewide pension overhaul approved last year.

S&P says if the pension overhaul is found unconstitutional it could have a "profound and negative effect on Illinois' budgetary performance and liquidity."

Gov. Pat Quinn's budget office says the move is a "predictable result" from the Legislature passing an "incomplete budget."


Insurers owe more than $8M in refunds in Illinois

CHICAGO (AP) - The federal government says more than 108,000 Illinois health insurance customers will benefit from more than $8 million in refunds because of a provision of the nation's health care law.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the figures Thursday.

The law requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect on medical care and quality improvement or return the difference to consumers and employers.

The money won't necessarily be a check in the mail. Employers can apply rebates in a way that benefits workers or take a discount on future premiums. Individual policyholders owed a rebate will either get a check, a reimbursement to their credit card account or see a reduction in future premiums.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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