Stadelman calls Moody's 'positive outlook' rating proof of state's 'solid fiscal trajectory'

Top credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service has revised the state’s outlook from "stable" to "positive," an upgrade State Senator Steve Stadelman attributed to a "solid trajectory of fiscal responsibilty in state government evidenced mostly recently by the passage this week of a sixth consecutive balanced budget."

Moody's reported the improved outlook hinged on the possibility of continued growth in state revenue. The revised outlook follows nine credit upgrades in the last two years.

“Revision of the outlook to positive is driven by continued improvement in fund balance and budget reserves, which has been supported by stability in revenue and state decisions to shore up financial health,” according to Moody’s.

Stadelman noted the importance of the news: "Better credit ratings result in lower costs for Illinois taxpayers as we rebuild the state's roads and other infrastructure."

New budget includes $25 million in tax credits, other Stadelman-passed incentives to boost local journalism

Payroll tax credits of up to $5 million a year for five years to support working local journalists and hire new ones were approved this week as part of the state's new budget, the latest incentive successfully sponsored by State Senator Steve Stadelman to revive Illinois' declining journalism industry.

Combined with previously approved new journalism scholarships and a notice-of-sale requirement for news organizations in Illinois, the package is regarding as among the most sweeping efforts to save local journalism jobs in the country. A state task force led by Stadelman released findings earlier this year that Illinois leads the nation in the loss of newsroom jobs.

“This legislation is a tangible step toward stemming those losses and putting journalists’ feet on the street covering local issues in communities across the state" said Tim Franklin, a Northwestern University journalism professor who served on the task force. "This is not just a win for journalism; it’s a win for residents who need reliable, trustworthy news and information to make informed decisions and be civically engaged.”

Illinois Press Association President and CEO Don Craven told Northwestern's Local News Initiative that Stadelman's legislation represents “nothing but good news for local newspapers and local broadcasters to be able to take advantage of this tax credit for hiring bright, young journalists.

Under the new withholding credit, eligible Illinois news organizations can receive a maximum of $15,000 per employee and $10,000 for new hires. Credits are capped at $150,000 per newsroom and $250,000 per corporation.

Additional incentives Stadelman passed in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly establish a program that will begin awarding journalism scholarships in the 2025-2026 academic year to encourage more students to enter the journalism profession and work in underserved areas. The notification requirement would force local news organizations to alert the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and employees 120 days before a sale occurs, giving other local newspapers, companies or non-profits a chance to intervene and keep the publication in local hands.

Stadelman, who worked as a Rockford television news anchor and reporter for 25 years before being elected to the Illinois Senate, plans to pursue more task force recommendations in the future. In a Local News Initiative interview, he called the incentives a clear win that demonstrate the state's commitment to local journalism. The tax credits in particular are significant, he said, in a tight budget year where many other proposals failed to make the grade.

State to start repairs on S. Main St. next week

Weather permitting, construction on Illinois 2 (South Main Street) in Rockford will begin June 3 between Clifton Avenue and Pond Street. Work will include milling, pavement patching, resurfacing, ADA improvements and traffic signal modernization.

Motorists should expect daytime lane closures with one lane open to traffic in each direction during the project, which the Illinois Department of Transportation expects to completed by August.

The improvements are part of the Stadelman-supported $33.2 billion Rebuild Illinois capital program. Through end end of the Rebuild Illinois' fourth year, $12.1 billion of infrastructure investment has take place statewide including work on 5,339 miles of highway and 533 bridges.