The Capitol Connection

blog navigation

The College of Public Affairs and Administration and the Center for State Policy and Leadership, University of Illinois Springfield
Thought Leadership

blog posts

  • The Whooping Crane

    10 Ways to Celebrate Endangered Species Day

    Celebrate 15th Annual Endangered Species Day on May 15th, 2020. Endangered Species Day is an opportunity for people of all ages to celebrate and learn about endangered species and how to protect them.

  • 2020 Reset: Do not give up on the year just yet …

    We recently past the 2020 half-way point. Have you given up on your hopes and dreams for the year? Do you feel like the goals that you set for this year are no longer possible? Have you settled into a wait-and-see pattern, and now just trying to tread water? It’s understandable. After all, we all tend to move toward urgency, and we are still dealing with a global pandemic.

    For many of you, it is time for a reset. Many of you need to pick a direction and start swimming so that your long-term goals do not drown (i.e., die) along with your yearly goals. 

  • Sign up today for the Illinois United Way Equity Challenge

    21 Week Equity Challenge

    We recognize there is a significant need for us as individuals and organizations to gain a better understanding of how inequity and racism impact so many of our neighbors and learn what we can do to dismantle all forms of oppression.

  • 5 Reasons to Pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs Reporting at UIS

    Since 1972, the Public Affairs Reporting program at UIS has jumpstarted hundreds of careers in journalism and communications. There are dozens of reasons why a PAR master’s degree is a smart option to level up your chances at a job reporting on government, politics and other high-profile topics. Read on for five of the best reasons.

  • Image of downtown Springfield with the Capitol in the background.

    A Customized Approach to Maintain Good Financial Condition for Illinois Local Governments

    During the pandemic, state governments in the U.S. have experienced dramatic declines in revenues.  In addition to the current budget situation, the states face economic uncertainty in future fiscal years about the path of the economic recovery. However, Illinois had already been running structural deficits over several years prior to the outbreak. The combination of that structural deficit and pandemic driven revenue shortfalls have created extreme fiscal stress for the state.   For local governments, one of the main concerns is that the state may cut state aid as a part of its budget balancing strategies.  In this post, we suggest a set of bespoke strategies for Illinois local governments.     

  • Aim for the Future: Goal Setting and Goal Sharing Innovate Springfield

    According to research, writing down a goal, assessing our commitment and motivation towards that goal, and then sharing progress with peers greatly increases our chances for success! Five years ago, this is exactly what Innovate Springfield and the Continuum of Learning did. They put their minds together, along with voices from all over the community, toward the goal of improving outcomes for Sangamon County children facing multiple barriers. Now, it’s time to share the progress that Innovate Springfield has made with the community! We are compiling the statistics and stories that show how much Sangamon Success has accomplished in five years and building a progress report that will fuel our growth in years to come. In order to tell the whole story, however, we need help. 

  • Dr. Arwi Srithongrung-Kriz

    Alternative Approaches to State Budget Cuts: What does Budget Theory Suggest?

    Now that Illinois voters rejected the Graduated Income Tax Amendment, the next logical question is how the state will balance its budget for fiscal year 2021 and beyond. While there is room in the state’s borrowing authority with the Federal Reserve under the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF), a larger concern is that much of this deficit is not due to COVID-19 related revenues and expenditures, but due to a long standing mismatch between state revenues and expenditures, a problem that the graduated income tax proposal was supposed to address. Borrowing this way would get the state through the immediate budgetary challenge, but what happens in FY22 and beyond?

  • A Path Forward for Graduate Internships at UIS

    The Graduate Public Service Intern (GPSI) Program is one of nine units within the University of Illinois Springfield’s (UIS) Center for State Policy and Leadership (CSPL).  This program affords eligible graduate students an introduction to public service, the opportunity to get work experience in their field of study, and provides students a tuition waiver and monthly stipend that makes graduate school more affordable.  The Program allows participating agencies an opportunity to educate and train potential future public service professionals and obtain necessary help on various projects throughout their agencies.

  • A Place to Call Home – But Not For Everyone

    Dismantling systemic racism must include addressing the denial of rentals to voucher holders. The seemingly neutral policy of refusing to accept Housing Choice Vouchers (commonly known as Section 8), often disproportionately affects minorities.

  • Photo of an African American man reading a business newspaper at a desk

    A Teachable Moment: Public Spaces Are Not Public

    There are two Americas. The myth and the reality. The shining city on the hill, beacon of hope and justice, and the other America bound by discrimination and despair.

  • August Public Affairs Minute for the Capitol Connection Blog - Baseball, Politics and Ethics...the National Pastime?

    August Public Affairs Minute: Baseball, Politics and Ethics…The National Pastime?

    Where might I even begin with such a title? And how does baseball relate to public affairs or developments in the College?  Given the serious themes of my past Minute segments, and as a keen baseball fan, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try to blend baseball and public affairs and offer an upbeat reflection of our current circumstances in relation to our national pastime. This seemed timely given that the abbreviated Major League Baseball Season has finally started.

  • Building Board Diversity Logo

    Building Board Diversity is a Win for Springfield and Beyond

    When Raychel McBride and Sarah Tapscott contacted Innovate Springfield about an initiative encouraging more diversity on local nonprofit boards, we only had one question. “When do we start?”

  • Photo of Dr. Brandon Derman, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies and the cover of his latest book, "Struggles for Climate Justice"

    Can the COVID crisis teach us to respond to climate change with more justice and impact?

    As the COVID crisis began to bite in Central Illinois this past spring, my Introduction to Cultural Geography students packed up their belongings, left campus, and settled into whatever housing they could, where, among myriad other tasks, they completed their current events papers for my course.  Several of them centered those papers on a developing media narrative:  perhaps Covid-19 held a silver lining for the environment, including the climate, as humans’ greenhouse gas emissions plummeted around the globe.

  • DCFS Child Protection Poster

    Can you see me? Children in the Shadows of the Pandemic

    In March, schools sent children home and students across Illinois and the nation sequestered in their homes where they attempted to continue their schoolwork remotely, in front of their computer screens.  Before too long child advocates nationwide observed an alarming trend – significant decreases in calls to child abuse hotlines.  States reported precipitous drops – upwards to 50% in some states. 

  • Sunshine Week - Your Right to Know

    Celebrate Sunshine Week!

    As I’m writing this on Monday, thick, gray clouds are streaking across the sky above the UIS campus. The view out my window reminds me of what it’s like sometimes trying to get information from government agencies.  March 14-20 is Sunshine Week, an initiative that began in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors to promote the public’s right to know what its public officials are doing.

  • Centering the Ocean in an Uncertain World: A Post for Inland Communities on World Oceans Day

    June 8 is World Oceans Day. And on every June 8 since 1992, this day has marked an opportunity to raise awareness about the benefits humans derive from the ocean, as well as humans’ reciprocal duty to protect the ocean and use its resource responsibly and sustainably.

  • Text:  Change, Hope, Renewal in front of four images of the U.S. Capitol, MLK Street Art, gavel and scales, hand on bible

    Change, Hope, and Renewal

    The January 6th Capitol riot, Martin Luther King Day Celebrations, the Inauguration of President Biden and the pending Impeachment Trial of Donald Trump. What a start to 2021! What do all four events/days have in common? Nothing some may say, and everything, others may suggest. I’m in the group that will highlight some important similarities and very real differences between these events.

  • Covid 19 Image

    Commentary: The Coronavirus and The Citizen

    The COVID 19 pandemic continues to unfold here in Illinois and the United States. There will likely be more cases, more fatalities, efforts of all kinds to contain and address this terrible life threatening virus that is wreaking havoc in and around the globe.  

    From the vantage point of the average citizen the questions are what happens next, what will life be like in the days, and months ahead? 

    Because I sit alone in my apartment trying to practice social distancing, I have some time to contemplate what’s next, what happened, and where is the average citizen in all this?  

  • Blooming pea plant in garden

    Compost for a Healthier Earth and a Healthier You 

    Observe Learn About Composting Day on May 29th.  According to a National Gardening Association report, 35% of households in the US grow food either at home or in a community garden, an increase of 200% between 2008 and 2017. Now with people still struggling to find food in groceries stores due to the COVID 19 pandemic, there has been another surge in interest.  Anyone can grow their own food, indoors or out, and a good way to begin is to create your own compost.

  • Continuum of Support from Cradle to Career

    Consider the following questions for a moment,

    Why do some children achieve on grade level and others do not?

    Why are some high schoolers prepared for college and careers and others are not?

    Why is it necessary for some businesses to recruit highly-qualified applicants from areas outside of Sangamon County?

    In 2005, local educational and business leaders asked themselves these and more questions about how education and the local economy are tied together. The more they dug into these questions, the more they realized that the answers were interconnected. Educational attainment is linked to grade-level achievement and social-emotional support. Grade-level achievement and social-emotional learning are connected to healthcare, nutrition, executive thinking skills, motor skill development, literacy skills, parental support, and on and on. It wasn’t long before these experts realized that in order to support Springfield’s economy, they had to focus on supporting youth through the entire continuum from cradle to career.

  • COVID-19 Adds Pressure to the Already Stressed Child Welfare System

    Dr. Betsy Goulet, Public Administration, and Dr. Kent Redfield, Political Science Professor Emeritus, collaborate on U of I System report on the effects of COVID 19 on the Illinois Child Welfare System.

  • Covid 19 Image

    COVID-19 Case Projections for Illinois Counties

    Many researchers have already created models with projections for COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, intensive care unit stays, and/or deaths. 

    I have created a model that relies on the fact that some parts of the country are further along the growth curve of the pandemic to produce COVID-19 case projections for Illinois counties. I use data only from the 48 contiguous states, with the expectation that those states provide a better comparison for Illinois than foreign countries do. And I make no assumptions about the virus or the effects of social distancing on transmission of the virus; instead, the model’s projections are based only on the actual data from the 48 states.

  • COVID-19: Present and Future Challenges for Education Leaders

    When Governor JB Pritzker issued a Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12, 2020, the effects on the P-20 education spectrum were complex and far reaching.

  • COVID and its Impact on Higher Education

    In our article recent article for Administrative Theory & Praxis “COVID and the Impact on Higher Education: The Essential Role of Integrity and Accountability”, we discuss challenges facing postsecondary institutions due to the COVID crisis and the critical roles that institutional integrity and accountability will play for postsecondary institutions in the COVID era, as well as the importance of embracing the role higher education plays in advancing social equity.

  • Dean's July Quarterly Connection - COVID-19 Update

    An update on response to COVID 19 by the U of I System, UIS, and College , and an outline of the disruptions, our responses, and our plans.

  • Do You Have Information Problems? Meet the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies (ILLAPS) at the University of Illinois Springfield

    When government entities or non-profit organizations want to make decisions on policies and practices, they often run into the problem of not having necessary, easy to understand information to move their work forward. This often leads to uncertainty, inaction, or incomplete decisions. However, it doesn’t have to be like that.

    The Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies (ILLAPS) in the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS’ mission is to help solve these information problems for non-profits and government entities of all sizes. In coordination with our partners, we solve information problems in three ways:

  • Earth Day: Celebrating 50 Years of Environmental Awareness & Action

    Today, Earth Day remains an important day to reflect on how far we have come, identify the problems that we must still solve, and decide what actions to take to protect and restore the ecosystems that sustain all of us.

    Although COVID-19 may keep us from gathering together at large public rallies this year, here are three things you can do to celebrate Earth Day today and every day.

  • Economic Update July 2020: The Shortest? And Deepest Recession in Generations?

    At the time of this post, the United States economy clings is at a crossroads. The economic slowdown engendered by the coronavirus pandemic and measures to contain its spread were the deepest on record, but there are already signs that the recession may be over. There are lingering issues and pain from the recession, especially in the labor market. But there is a palpable sense that the situation may be resolving itself. However, the economy faces many uncertainties going forward. The question is whether the sense of recovery comes from false hope generated by temporarily good economic news or whether it signals a return to a “normal” economic situation.

  • Photo of empty classroom

    Effect of K-12 instruction types on reported COVID-19 cases and deaths in Illinois counties

    Few decisions made by state and local governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic have affected families as much as decisions about K-12 instruction types – whether to provide in-person instruction, online-only instruction, or a hybrid of in-person and online instruction. Decisions about instruction types this fall have varied widely across states, counties, and school districts, partly because of differences in COVID-19 case metrics and partly for other reasons, including political differences.

  • Photo of polling place

    Election Day 2020: More than a Presidential Election

    Every four years, we elect a president based upon each candidate’s vision for the future and our assessments of who is most capable of addressing the issues facing the country.  As is common in most presidential elections, supporters of both candidates are calling this the most important election of their lifetime.  Of course, no matter how important the presidential election may be, it is not the only important decision voters have to make this year.

  • Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney, Ph.D., with the young Abraham Lincoln statue on the UIS quad

    Ensuring A Just University

    As an educator and a civically engaged citizen, I believe we will never fully realize “this great experiment of democracy” until we fully realize the common cause for justice. We cannot have justice until we reduce racism to such a level that the civic life of our society can conduct itself in a forward and consistent fashion to ensure that all people, no matter their race, can expect and receive the fruits and benefits of our society. 

  • Photo of the Innovate Springfield Building in Downtown Springfield above a photo of the UIS Colonnade with yellow flowers in the foreground

    Exploring UIS’ Relationship With Springfield

    Through my coursework in the Doctor of Public Administration program I had to opportunity to do an independent study with Bruce Sommers, the Executive Director of Economic Development and Innovation.  I was charged with investigating the best practices in corporate and community engagement by colleges and universities and identifying colleges/universities that have optimized town/gown relations for the commercialization of technology. 

  • Image of business man entangled in red tape

    Fed Up with the Status Quo: Read This

    Look around your organization. Are you amazed at just how resigned everyone is to the status quo? Does the seeming acceptance of mediocrity bother you?  Despite severe environmental pressures, are the people around you behaving in obviously ineffective ways that could be threatening the very survival of the organization?  The problem is that most organizations are incapable of learning or changing themselves in response to experience (i.e., the discrepancy between expectations and results).  So what is the solution?

  • Costarters logo

    Get Started with CO.STARTERS @iSPI

    Quick question ━ are you entrepreneurial? Scratch that. Have you ever had a lemonade stand? Have you ever tried to sell something that you made? Do you have an excellent process, product, service, or recipe that you think others could benefit from and would pay for?

    If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you could answer “yes” to the first question. You are entrepreneurial!

    The trouble is, entrepreneurs have great ideas and often don’t have the means or the support to see them through. That’s why CO.STARTERS at Innovate Springfield is an excellent opportunity for anyone ready to invest in their big idea and turn it into a reality.

  • Chart showing that 68% of funds stay in the community when you buy local, compared to 43% when you do not

    Give Local this Holiday: iSPI Holiday Shop

    This giving season, we're celebrating the small businesses who have established their headquarters at Innovate Springfield, in the heart of our community, and who proudly call Springfield their home. Welcome to the iSPI Holiday Shop, a curated selection of Innovate Springfield member-owned products and services.

  • Image of discarded disposable face mask on a street

    Gloves, boxes, and masks: Waste visibility, challenges, and opportunities during and post COVID - 19 pandemic

    Garbage is everywhere but is mostly overlooked in our everyday environment. Though as individuals we deal with municipal solid waste every day, waste infrastructure – like black bags, covered bins, enclosed trucks, industrial waste cycles, and publicly inaccessible landfills - keeps the majority of garbage out of sight and mind.  In reality, in Illinois, landfill space is limited (average lifespan = 21 years), and the Covid-19 pandemic is exposing just how essential, complex, and fragile our waste cycle is.

  • GPSI Springing Forward

    As each academic semester comes to a close, students, faculty, and staff take time to reflect on the accomplishments of the previous year and look forward to the coming year. In GPSI, the month of April is a time for celebration, recognition, and new beginnings. As we say “See you later” to one group of graduating interns, we are simultaneously interviewing for their successors. For the past many years, GPSI has hosted a Recognition Breakfast that highlights graduating interns, special projects, and shares new updates with our community members. At the breakfast, GPSI awards one outstanding intern the Brian T. Milbrandt Memorial Intern Award for Academic and Professional Excellence and one exceptional supervisor the Sagarika Madala Memorial Award for Exemplary Leadership. Both awards are named in memory of two former GPSIs.

  • Image of th UIS Young Lincoln statue in a blue and white UIS stocking cap and scarf with a snowy UIS campus in the background.  Message: The College of Public Affairs and Administration wishes you a happy holiday season.

    Happy Holidays! A video message from Dean Smith

    Holiday Greetings from Dean Robert Smith

  • Tree

    Helping Preserve and Enhance our Urban Trees

     Urban trees are the pillars of our community. They help decrease air pollution, reduce flooding, produce valuable resources, provide a habitat for wildlife, promote physical and mental health, and encourage a sense of community (Turner-Skoff & Cavender, 2019). We marvel at these benefits, but we also have a responsibility to take care of these trees. 

    You are invited to join us on Wednesday, March 31 from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. for a virtual program on Urban Trees: Planning, Policy, and Planting. This program, which is sponsored by the Citizens Club of Springfield in partnership with the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) Center for State Policy and Leadership, is part of the National Endowment of the Arts Big Read: Sangamon County. Programs and activities are taking place throughout our community in March and April based on the featured book Lab Girl by Hope Jahren.

  • How Can We Prevent the Next Pandemic by Addressing the Wildlife Trade?

    The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the world, infecting 134 million and killing nearly 3 million people. The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease is thought to have likely originated in bats, a misunderstood and often maligned order of mammals that includes over 1,400 species. How the virus jumped the species barrier remains unclear, but strong evidence exists linking the wildlife trade to human exposure to the virus.  So, what can be done to prevent the next pandemic?

     

  • Stop Domestic Violence

    How to Help Abuse Victims during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic

    Across the world, people are spending a lot more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Shelter in place orders and closures have put extra stress on families.  Economic uncertainty and social isolation have also been linked to increased use of substances and mental health issues.  These stressors and negative effects have been exacerbated for abuse victims, particularly those who are currently living in an abusive environment, where spending extra time at home can lead to even more danger, with few outlets for escape.

  • I Believe in Being 18

    Another ten area high school seniors have been selected by our community committee for the 2021 edition of This I Believe on NPR Illinois. That’s 150 students since the program started with the 2007 selected authors. The program continues to pull at your emotions and remind you of when you were about to enter the adult world.

  • Photo of a downtown street from the Illinois Municipal League website

    Illinois Municipalities Face Difficult Decisions during COVID 19 Pandemic

    Six months ago, the world was a completely different place. The American economy was growing. Families were regularly coming together for birthdays, weddings and other special occasions. The 1,298 cities, villages and towns throughout Illinois were providing regular and critical services to support the health, safety and welfare of their residents.

  • Illinois Police and Fire Pension Funding Challenges by the Illinois Municipal League, UIS Institute for Illinois Public Finance, and UIS College of Public Affairs and Administration

    Illinois Police and Fire Pension Funding Challenges

    View this video presentation on "Illinois Police and Fire Pension Funding Challenges".  The video is part of the Illinois Municipal Policy Journal (IMPJ) Webinar Series. In this presentation Dr. Beverly Bunch, UIS, and Amanda Kass, UIC, present their research which was detailed in the December 2020 volume of the IMPJ.  The presentation is moderated by Dr. Kenneth Kriz, UIS.

  • ppsj primary jpeg

    Improving Public Safety in our Communities – Introducing the Project for Public Safety and Justice at UIS

    The mission of the Project for Public Safety and Justice (PPSJ) is to promote public safety as a philosophy and practice for all members of a community. It is through partnerships and community engagement; organizational change and transformation; innovative approaches and strong community based leadership combined with quality technical assistance and training that the essence of community policing is redefined and applied to enhance the quality of life across the United States.  PPSJ continues to play its roll in this endeavor by looking to the future in an effort to take good research and transform it into practical applications through national and local initiatives.

  • Dr. Sibel Oktay Karagul, Assistant Professorof Political Science and Co-Director of Global Studies

    International Students Make Our Education System Richer, Better, and Stronger

    On July 6th, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a guidance that announced: “The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.” As institutions continue to grapple with COVID-19 and how to reopen campuses safely for the fall semester (which is just a few weeks away), the administration’s decision to potentially penalize universities for going fully online in the fall sent shockwaves to all constituents of the U.S. higher education system.

  • Logo for the UIS Center for State Policy and Leadership

    Introduction to the CSPL Centerpiece

    With the start of 2021, CSPL enthusiastically joins in partnership with the College of Public Affairs and Administration (CPAA) to administer and connect with you via The Capitol Connection Blog (thank you CPAA!).  One goal for CSPL is to communicate, connect and collaborate more to build awareness and increase public value of CSPL.  Many years ago, CSPL released a monthly newsletter called The Centerpiece.  Built on great history, The Centerpiece will serve as the identifying monthly blog entry for CSPL. 

  • Photo of a newspaper front pages above the fold

    Is It A Lost Cause To Get Young People To Read Newspapers?

    When we think about the average reader of a newspaper – the actual paper kind – the profile tends to be older, more educated and more affluent compared to a non-newspaper reader.  Combine that with the stereotypical image of a college student – younger and less affluent with their eyes and fingers glued to a screen – and you might think there’s little chance of ever turning a 20-something into someone who sips their coffee over the morning paper.  It might not all be a lost cause, however.

  • The Capitol Connection Blog, September 24, 2020, Is it too early to talk about a post-Covid world? by Lenore Killam, MPH Clinical Instructor

    Is It Too Early to Talk About a Post Covid-19 World?

    In our CPAA All-College meeting last week, we discussed the topic of navigating in a “post Covid-19” environment; a future we all look forward to sharing. In the meantime, Covid-19 looms large in each one of our lives. I am pleased to share two important initiatives to move us toward the post-Covid-19 goal.

  • Join us April 28 for a discussion about nonprofit news

    As privately owned media companies fight for survival and search for a funding model that is both sustainable and provides vital and trustworthy news coverage of local communities, we’ve seen more nonprofit journalism organizations (NPJs) emerge to report on specific topics and/or geographic areas that other newsrooms won’t or can’t adequately cover.