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The Capitol Connection
The College of Public Affairs and Education and the Center for State Policy and Leadership, University of Illinois Springfield

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  • 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. 

  • Image of "I Voted" stickers on a white background

    2022 U.S. Senate Elections

    This semester in PSC 407: Campaigns and Elections, political science students at UIS have been researching some of the most competitive and high-profile congressional elections taking place in 2022. Here is some of their analysis.  

  • 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.

  • Virtual 3 Day Startup at iSPI

    3 Day Startup at Innovate Springfield

    We’re excited to share that we recently held our FIRST Virtual 3 Day Startup (3DS) Event @iSPI/UIS on September 18, 19, and 20, 2020. The 3DS program is designed to engage and connect university students to experiential learning opportunities in entrepreneurship and innovation over the course of a three day startup weekend. The intended outcomes align with Innovate Springfield’s Strategic Compass goal to support students in pursuing and achieving their personal goals and to provide robust training, and other strong supports to student members of iSPI's business incubation program. 3DS served as a rich and vibrant virtual experience for those who participated.

  • 50-Forward 2


    In 2021, our national network and member stations that fund it are celebrating 50 years since NPR started with the broadcast of All Things Considered in 1971. NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS will celebrate our 50th anniversary of broadcasting to central Illinois in 2025. So over the next few years, “50” will have special significance for NPR Illinois. I’m honored to announce the 50-Forward Campaign. As we lead up to 2025, we will be looking for major and planned gifts and/or grants to increase the service of NPR Illinois into the future.

  • 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.

  • Photo of graphiti "For All"

    Accountability for Social Equity

    At the end of 2021, I am again reminded why public administration is so important and because of this, it is critical that public service agencies must be accountable for social equity.

  • 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.     

  • B&W Photo of US Capitol, left half covered in blue overlay, right half covered in red overlay

    (Affective) Partisanship is a Heck of a Drug: What is it and Why We Might Want to Be Concerned About it.

    The growing animosity between Democrats and Republicans in America is a well-discussed problem.  A term academic research uses to describe the problem is “affective polarization.” What’s fascinating (or perhaps a bit alarming) is that the rise in affective partisanship is less about supporting or disagreeing on matters of legislative policy and instead is about our partisanship becoming key component of our identity.

  • 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?

  • Photo of black gun on black background with text "Firearms Policy"

    American Attitudes towards Potential Firearm Policies: Surprising Areas of Agreement, Unsurprising Partisan Influence Largely Remains

    This blog post is meant to address what Americans think about such firearm safety proposals using public opinion data. To be clear, this blog post is not advocating for or against such proposals. There are plenty of passionate write ups advocating for certain positions and you can find those elsewhere.

  • Hand holding up sign that says, "Indigenous rights are human rights".

    An Existential Threat to the Indian Child Welfare Act

    Passed by Congress in 1978, The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) faces an existential threat from the current Supreme Court case Haaland v. Brackeen.

  • Photo of The Honorable Brian S. Miller, Federal District Court Judge on announcement of Railsplitter's Banquet, March 31st, 2023

    Announcing the 2023 Railsplitter's Banquet on March 31st

    You are invited to the 2023 Railsplitter's Banquet on March 31st, 2023 at 6:30pm featuring guest speaker Federal District Court Judge, The Honorable Brian S. Miller.  Sponsored by the UIS School of Public Management and Policy.

  • 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.

  • "and breathe" spelled out in fluorescent lighting with green leaves in the background

    April Public Affairs Minute: Mental Health Days for Students, Professors and Staff and You!

    A new law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, that gives Illinois students five mental health days to use throughout the year without a doctor's note.  This brief message is another plea to step back and take a break.

  • Photo of Ariel Van Cleave

    Ariel Van Cleave named PAR broadcast instructor

    Ariel Van Cleave, senior editor for audio and interim managing editor for Chicago public radio station WBEZ, will serve as the Public Affairs Reporting program's adjunct broadcast writing instructor beginning this fall.

  • 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.

  • Photo of an Election Judge Manual

    Become an Election Judge This Election Day

    With less than three weeks until Election Day, our TVs, mobile screens and U.S. mailboxes have been bombarded with advertising messages from political candidates and the organizations who support them.  Let me provide you with one more election-related message – if not for this election, then the next one: Sign up to be an election judge.

  • Photo of Former Governors Jim Edgar and Pat Quinn meeting with FY2022 ILSIP Cohort during their seminar.


    The Illinois Legislative Staff Intern Program (ILSIP) is the best kept secret at the University of Illinois at Springfield. It is hard to fathom why this is so.

  • Public Administration faculty making presentations at ABFM conference in Washington, D.C., 9/30-10/2

    Budget & Finance Expertise: UIS Public Administration Professors Participate in ABFM Conference in Washington DC

    Six Public Administration faculty members presented at the the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management (ABFM) conference in Washington, DC, from September 30 to October 2, 2021. 

  • 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?”

  • Sign with "Welcome to iSPI.  Social Innovation.  Business Incubation" in front of desk at the Innovate Springfield office

    Business Incubation at Innovate Springfield

    Supporting innovators and entrepreneurs across industries and stages of business requires strategic thinking about our resources, programming, and service offerings. We use ecosystem mapping to determine members’ current stage of business and to inform our program schedule based on their needs. Our service offerings include the opportunity to consult with expert advisors, one-on-one coaching, university resources, meaningful peer-to-peer networking, and a robust schedule of professional development events.

  • Photo of a hand holding up a cardboard sign saying "Respect, Civility, Equality"

    Call for a National Conference on Restoring Civility in American Politics

    Dean Smith explains his call for a national conference focusing on solutions for the seeming rise in political violence and discontent across the nation over the past several years. 

  • UIS has intern candidates currently pursuing a graduate degree in: accountancy, business administration, communication, computer science, data analyitics, education, educational leadership, environmental health, environmental sciences, history, human development counseling, human services, legal studies, MIS, political science, public administration, public health, public policy

    Calling All Nonprofit Agencies looking to hire new talent!

    GPSI has been placing UIS graduate students in State Government Agencies since its inception, and in recent years, GPSI has made an effort to ensure Nonprofit Agencies are aware of this program’s opportunity as well.

  • 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.

  • Celebrating World Migratory Bird Day Close to Home with Ospreys

    World Migratory Bird Day is a global awareness-raising campaign highlighting the need to protect migratory birds and their habitats.  In the Environmental Studies Department at UIS, Dr. Tih-Fen Ting takes action every day in protecting one species of migratory birds - Ospreys.

  • 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.

  • Text:  Politics of Respectability

    Chicago mayor-elect Brandon Johnson defies respectability politics: Is a paradigm shift underway?

    The recent election of Brandon Johnson as Chicago’s new mayor has been the center of attention in the US this week. This outcome raises questions about the existence of a paradigm shift in urban politics.

  • Black graduation cap with a blue and white 2022 tassle

    Commencement and Graduation and Pomp and Circumstance: What does it Really Mean?

    Just what is graduation, what is commencement, why are they important life milestones? Let’s take a brief look.

  • 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.

  • Mapping Inequality

    Confronting Inequities in Springfield

    Our community is faced with significant inequities that have persisted over time.  The redlining map of Springfield shown in the picture above shows the mortgage lending categories used in 1940, which segregated our city and discriminated against people of color (  The red-shaded areas show the portions labelled as “hazardous” for loan making. Unfortunately, over 80 years later, the legacy of the redlining practices remain.

    In recognition of the need to address inequities, the Citizens Club of Springfield, in partnership with the University of Illinois Springfield, will be hosting a series of programs titled Confronting Inequities in Springfield. The steering committee for this event states: “The Series seeks to engage the broader public in an educational dialogue about the lasting effects of inequities and their destructive legacy in our own backyard. The series also seeks to spur discussion and action to create a more just and equitable community and write the next chapter to our story.”

  • Connor Krater: My Experience at UIS

    The reasons I chose the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) are simple. Coming out of high school, I wanted to become involved in Illinois state politics, as Illinois had been my home for my entire life. UIS offered me ample opportunity to get involved in the Illinois state capital and its associated internships while studying its politics.

  • Book cover: Before Bostock: The Accidental LGBTQ Precedent of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, Jason Pierceson.  Photo of Dr. Jason Pierceson, Professor of Political Science

    Conservative Judges and Transgender Rights After Bostock v. Clayton County

    In a book recently published by the University Press of Kansas, Before Bostock: The Accidental Precedent of Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, I explore the background of the recent landmark LGBTQ rights case of Bostock v. Clayton County (2020).

  • Photo of a roll of "I Voted" stickers

    Continuing America’s Laboratory of Democracy Through State and Local Electoral Innovations

    A recurring finding among researchers is that American voters have grown dissatisfied with the electoral system in America.  This post discusses alternative voting systems and related research conducted by the staff and faculty of the Center for State Policy and Leadership which was recently published in American Politics Research, a peer-reviewed academic journal.

  • 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.

  • Photo of the U.S. Supreme Court building durina a protest (photo by by Sarah Penney on

    Courting Extremism: How State Supreme Court Selection Methods Fuel Ideological Divides

    Every summer when the US Supreme Court releases their most high-profile decisions the public is reminded of the influence judges have on everyday life.  How do we decide who gets to make these tough decisions? 

  • 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.

  • Photo of Dr. Amanda Hughett, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Amanda Hughett, Legal Studies

    Hello! I’m Dr. Amanda Hughett, an Assistant Professor of Legal Studies. I’m an interdisciplinary scholar whose research and teaching focus on law, social movements, and the criminal justice system in the United States.

  • Image of Dr. Betsy Goulet

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Betsy Goulet, SPMP

    CPAA Faculty Spotlight:  Dr. Betsy Goulet, Clinical Assistant Professor, Public Administration & Child Advocacy Studies Coordinator