Illinois is leading the Midwest in investments in parks, recreation and education according to the most recent report on national rankings from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.

Illinois far outranked fellow Midwestern states in spending on parks and recreation. Illinois ranks third in the nation in overall spending on parks and recreation and fifth on a per capita basis. None of the other Midwestern states broke the top 20 in this category, with Iowa coming in next in the Midwest at 21st on a per capita basis. Indiana and Kentucky rank 50th and 48th respectively. Parks and recreation opportunities in the state enable residents to lead a more healthful and active lifestyle and can spur economic development through tourism.  

ClassroomThe most recent data shows that Illinois is spending above the national average on elementary and secondary education and is leading the Midwest in this category as well. Illinois ranks fifth in the nation for the amount spent on elementary and secondary education. This spending includes both money from the state and property tax revenues. Illinois is followed by Ohio and Michigan, ranked 8th and 10th respectively. By investing in our youth, Illinois is investing in our future.

The Commission publishes several reports each year, including special topic reports that have or could have an impact on the economic well‐being of Illinois. All reports are available on the Commission’s website.

To read the full report, click here.

muskie drawingAncient folklore describes the muskie as a beast among fish, an eel-like creature that slithers along the ocean floor with an aggressive nature that urges fisherman to use caution with this fish. The muskie or muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) has an elongated head and body that makes it an excellent ambush predator.

It hides among seaweed and waits for prey, and its sharp teeth are pefect for pointing holes in anything unfortunate enough to cross its path. An adult muskie is an apex predator; only humans pose a significant threat. Its weight ranges from 30 to 60 pounds or even up to 110 pounds, according to a 1908 fisherman’s myth. It can be found in northern freshwater waterways such as the Great Lakes.

It’s commonly found in large rivers in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and northern Canada. On July 5, Jim Hack, a financial advisor in Barrington, reeled in a whopping 54-inch muskie from a lake in Lake County, Illinois. He brought it to the Salmon Stop in Waukegan, where it was certified. It weighed 35 pounds, 10 ounces with a length of 54 inches and girth of 22.5 inches. This fish has now gone on record to be the largest muskie caught in Illinois in 2006 but still short of a 2002 muskie caught by Matt Carmean that weighed in at 38 pounds, 8 ounces with a length of 50 ¾ inches. Carmean was fishing for walleye below the Lake Shelbyville Dam.

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Coffee DayOn National Coffee Day, we’d like to shine a spotlight on Chicago-based coffee roaster Intelligentsia. Intelligentsia pioneered the Direct Trade purchasing model in which they source directly from coffee roasters and incentivize high-quality cups.

Doug Zell and Emily Manage first opened Intelligentsia Coffee’s doors on Broadway Avenue on Chicago’s North Side in October of 1995. Since then they have expanded from coast to coast, opening shops in LA and New York City.

They have earned several awards for their work and in 2016 were recognized on Thrillist’s list of best coffee roasters in the country.
Intelligentsia works with farmers and coffee producers in 20 countries to develop high quality beans.


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perfect average mainstream

UPDATE: President Barack Obama cited this report in his speech to the Illinois General Assembly on February 10, saying:

"I just saw a story the other day showing that if you rank all 50 states across categories like education levels and household incomes, and race and religion, the one state that most closely mirrors America as a whole is Illinois, this state."

Illinois’ diversity catapulted it to the top of a new ranking of states best suited to host the country’s earliest presidential primary contests because they best reflect the makeup of the United States.

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Illinois has lower tax rates than neighboring statesIllinois’ finances would look very different today if it adopted tax systems like its Midwestern neighbors do, according to a new video that breaks down the differences.

That’s the message Illinois Senate President John Cullerton has been delivering around the state for years and that the Illinois Economic Policy Institute acknowledged in its new video that explains how Illinois stacks up against Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri and Iowa.

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