In 2015, Illinois to confront daunting issues, divisions

(SPRINGFIELD, IL) — Illinois faces a daunting list of issues as it enters 2015.Among them are how to keep schools and social services funded, making higher education more affordable, addressing crowded prisons and possibly redoing pension reform. The inauguration of Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner will bring a new approach to Springfield. But whether he can work with Democrats who control the General Assembly is still unknown. The University of Illinois also begins a new era in July with its 20th president, Timothy L. Killeen. But the new academic leadership faces serious issues too, including sparser state support and protests over hiring decisions. A potential bright spot is an improving jobs outlook. State unemployment dropped sharply in 2014, to 6.4 percent in November, even as the number of people looking for work increased.