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Welcome to the Reader's morning briefing for Tuesday, January 31, 2016.
The ongoing state budget impasse has left the state with a backlog of approximately $11 billion in unpaid bills plus interest, according to the Tribune. One estimate of the interest owed for state employee health care alone puts it at $370 million. "From a taxpayer standpoint, and from any kind of reasonably good government standpoint, you would not plan to incur penalties for failing to pay known bills every year," Civic Federation president Laurence Msall told the newspaper. "Illinois has become addicted to a bad habit." The state has not had a full budget agreement in 18 months, and the debt is expected to grow to $15 billion by summer if a deal is not reached. [Tribune]
Former president Barack Obama made his first political move since leaving the White House January 20 by endorsing Fourth Ward alderman Sophia King in a special election. "Michelle and I have known Sophia many years as a leader dedicated to improving her community. Over the years, Sophia has worked to make neighborhood schools and communities better," Obama said in a statement. "Sophia is the type of leader Chicago and the 4th Ward need." King, who was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to replace former alderman Will Burns, faces four challengers in the February 28 special election. [DNAinfo Chicago]
Countless protesters gathered at O'Hare International Airport over the weekend to stand against President Donald Trump's ban on immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries. While Illinois Democrats and some Republicans including Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham criticized Trump's executive order, most Illinois Republicans remained silent on the issue, according to Politico. Of the exceptions, Governor Bruce Rauner said that he doesn't agree with a Muslim ban, but stopped short of denouncing Trump's action. Downstate Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger expressed dismay with aspects of the ban and said that it "has caused confusion among those asked to enforce it." "I support a comprehensive look at our vetting process, and I believe it's something every new administration would be expected to do," Kinzinger wrote in a Medium post. "However, reports of green card holders and those who assisted us in the war on terror being denied or delayed entry is deeply concerning. Such detention is unacceptable and must be remedied immediately." [Politico]
The New York Times has chronicled the story of 27-year-old shooting victim Precious Land since September. On January 13, after seven months in a coma, Land died of the injuries she sustained in the Memorial Day Weekend shooting. Her mother, Stacey Turner, stayed by her hospital bedside throughout. "It's constantly happening, every single day," Turner told the newspaper about Chicago violence. "And these people are running around, shooting innocent people, ripping through lives. And there's so much going on, the police can't handle everything." [New York Times]
President Donald Trump has become known for his infamous tweets about Chicago violence, e.g., "I will send in the Feds!" DNAinfo Chicago has published a "Trump Tweet Tracker" where you can locate old Trump tweets about Chicago organized into categories including Trump Tower, Visiting Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, Any Political, and Praising Chicago. It will be updated as Trump continues to share his opinions about the city on his favorite social media platform. [DNAinfo Chicago]
The Frango mints made famous by Marshall Field's department store will be owned by a Chicago-based company again. Garrett Popcorn will buy the Frango brand for an undisclosed amount of money. While shoppers will still be able to buy Frango mints at Macy's stores, Garrett Popcorn locations won't stock them. Still, the company sees it as a good move in keeping with its strategy: "Frango is a perfect fit for our company's portfolio, aligning well with our strategy to preserve and grow iconic brands that have historic franchise value with a unique and storied past," Garrett Brands CEO Lance Chody said in the statement. [Associated Press via Crain's Chicago Business]