Daywatch: Illinois lawmakers head into session’s final days

Good morning, Chicago.

Democrats who control the Illinois General Assembly head into the final days of the spring legislative session with several of the major initiatives Gov. J.B. Pritzker laid out in his February budget proposal, from about $900 million in tax hikes to legislation challenging the insurance industry, still unresolved.

Tax increases on sportsbooks and corporations, which Pritzker’s office says are needed to both balance the budget and maintain the state’s trend of credit upgrades, could be sticking points as legislators negotiate the governor’s $52.7 billion budget proposal. Acknowledging pushback from lawmakers, many of whom are up for reelection in November, the governor’s office has warned state agencies to prepare for cuts to an array of state services.

But at the same time, there is no shortage of interests lobbying for more money. The Chicago Teachers Union and the city’s public school system are seeking an increase in funding. While the CTU has pushed for $1.1 billion it says is needed to fully fund the city’s schools, Chicago Public Schools says it would settle for a $550 million statewide increase in school funding, which remains well above the $350 million Pritzker has proposed.

Read the full story.

Here are the top stories you need to know to start your day.

Subscribe to more newsletters | Puzzles & Games | Today’s eNewspaper edition

In pro-Palestinian rally at CPD station, coalition calls for mobilization ahead of DNC in August

Outside the 18th District Chicago police station, a group gathered Sunday afternoon waving Palestinian flags and wearing kaffiyehs in the first of many actions ahead of the Democratic National Convention being held in the city in August. In a contentious election year, the rally encapsulated a growing feeling of discontent with the political establishment.

3 women allege grooming, sexual misconduct by former high school teacher and coach

For nearly two decades, Andrea Crawford assumed that when she told school officials a student teacher had groomed and sexually abused her at Morton East High School in Cicero, it had put a stop to the man’s career plans.

In fact, the teacher obtained his license that summer and started a job at Elmwood Park High School in August 2002. In the following years, according to pending lawsuits, Dallas Till groomed and repeatedly had sex with two underage students at the school.

Scarred but blessed, shooting victim Tavon Tanner graduates

On Thursday afternoon, with his mother eager to get him into the car, Tavon Tanner took his time putting on the triumphal costume of his high school graduation.

If you’d seen Tavon in that moment, you’d never guess, unless you knew, what was hidden by those fancy clothes. A scar that runs the full length of his abdomen. A leg that still hurts when the weather gets too hot or cold. And years of wondering whether he would make it to graduation day.

Law enforcement leaders eye therapy dogs as potential boost to officer mental health

Joel Gordils said he was a step away from killing himself when he heard the click of his dog’s toenails on the floor.

It had been several months since Gordils left his job as a Chicago police officer and the realities of his new disabilities — the result of being dragged by a car during a traffic stop in November 2020 — had begun to set in.

On that day in February 2021, Gordils, 34, said he felt so alone that he’d pulled out his gun with the intent of shooting himself just as his pit bull Goliath walked into the room. He said he put down the gun, held onto Goliath and cried.

Landfill study shows flawed detection methods, higher methane emissions in Illinois, other states

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s method of detecting methane leaks at landfills is flawed, and emissions of this powerful heat-trapping gas are likely much higher than what is being reported, according to a new study analyzing landfills in Illinois and seven other states.

Column: Chicago Cubs pitcher Héctor Neris invokes the classic sports tradition of the motivational speech

In sports, motivational speeches have contributed to lore, writes Shakeia Taylor. A player giving a speech at a critical moment in the season can become part of the team’s stories for years to come. Athletes are famously known for their ability to go to another level to compete at the highest.

Typically these speeches come before a critical game, during a Game 7 rain delay or in the midst of a losing streak. But after a wild walk-off 1-0 win at Wrigley Field on Saturday, Cubs pitcher Héctor Neris delivered a postgame speech that gave outfielder Cody Bellinger “goosebumps.”

Kofi Hughes used football to hide from his struggles. Now he shares his experience while training a new generation of athletes.

Football didn’t save Kofi Hughes.

At his lowest point, no one else knew how dark things had gotten for Hughes, a star wide receiver at Indiana from 2010-13 who was good enough to be featured on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

After a 17-year wait, cicadas emerge a little early in Chicagoland: ‘It’s a milestone’

It’s official, Chicagoland. Periodical cicadas have arrived.

The large insects, which last emerged in the area 17 years ago, have been spotted in droves in pockets of the city and suburbs. On certain streets on the Far Southwest Side Saturday, cicadas dotted the sidewalks and blanketed the trees.

Chicago Tribune makes its final press run at Freedom Center, as printing plant gives way to casino

When the heavily used presses at the Freedom Center geared up over the weekend to print the Sunday Chicago Tribune, it gave new meaning to the term final edition. After 43 years of spewing out countless millions of newspapers, the production run was the last for the Chicago Tribune at the massive plant along the Chicago River.

Review: Megan Thee Stallion puts on a fierce but uneven concert at the United Center

Megan Thee Stallion’s glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps must be sore, writes Bob Gendron. Or possibly just made out of rubber. Playing Friday at the first of a two-night run at United Center, the fitness-obsessed rapper put those muscle groups through an intense workout as part of her Hot Girl Summer Tour.