Brian Mackey

Brian Mackey covers state government and politics for WUIS and a dozen other public radio stations across Illinois. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He can be reached at (217) 206-6412.

Subscribe to Brian Mackey's State of the State podcast on WUIS' podcast page, or by copying this URL into iTunes or any other podcast app.

A group of Democratic Illinois state legislators are suing to get their paychecks more quickly. They've gone without compensation since May 31.

After nearly a year-and-a-half without a full budget, Illinois is taking months and months to pay its bills.

Earlier this year, Comptroller Leslie Munger said she was putting legislator pay at the back of the line with every other state IOU.

Democrats, like Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, from Hillside, say that's just a way to help push Gov. Bruce Rauner's controversial agenda. And that, he says, is unconstitutional.

A group of Democratic Illinois state legislators are suing to get their paychecks more quickly.  As Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey reports, they've gone without compensation since early summer.

After nearly a year-and-a-half  without a full budget, Illinois is taking months and months to pay its bills. Earlier this year, Comptroller Leslie Munger said she was putting legislator pay at the back of the line with every other state IOU.

The Illinois General Assembly is allowing electric utilities to collect more money from customers. It's part of a deal in which Exelon Corporation has agreed not to close nuclear plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities for at least ten years.

With just one month until Illinois government loses spending authority, the state's political leaders remain sharply divided on how to unwind the crisis.

They've been clear about their positions: Republicans say no budget deal without first adopting the governor's agenda, which aims to help businesses, weaken labor unions and sideline long-serving politicians.

Democrats, on the other hand, have said state spending cannot be held hostage to such "non-budget issues."

Exelon says it finally has a deal to subsidize its nuclear energy plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities. The corporation says Governor Bruce Rauner’s support was key.

But some Illinois legislators are nervous the governor might change his mind.

You remember those Charlie Brown specials, where Lucy promises she’ll hold the football?

“You just want me to come running up to kick that ball so you can pull it away and see me lie flat on my back and kill myself," Charlie says.

With just one month until Illinois government loses spending authority, the state's political leaders remain sharply divided on how to unwind the crisis.  They've been clear about their positions: Republicans say no budget deal without first adopting the governor's agenda, which aims to help businesses, weaken labor unions and sideline long-serving politicians.

Illinois legislators are considering whether to approve an energy deal on behalf of power company Exelon. Without it, the corporation says it will close its nuclear plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities.

The Illinois Senate has again approved a plan to automatically register people to vote. It comes despite an earlier veto of the legislation by the governor. Automatic voter registration had strong bipartisan support when legislators first approved it earlier this year.  But in vetoing the proposal, Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, warned that non-citizens could be registered.

Illinois voters are sending a Democrat to the U.S. Senate. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk.

Kirk recovered from a debilitating stroke in 2012, but was always going to have a hard time holding onto the seat. He won the seat in the Tea Party wave election of 2010, and Illinois tends to vote more Democratic in presidential election years.

Kirk was magnanimous in defeat, inviting Duckworth to meet at Chicago's Billy Goat Tavern.

Illinois Democrats have won the state office of comptroller away from Republicans.

Susana Mendoza, a Democrat from Chicago, won a special election for a two-year term.

Mendoza defeated incumbent Leslie Munger, who was appointed after Judy Baar Topinka died in office.

The campaign became a proxy battle in the war between Democrats and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who personally spent millions on the race.

With election day upon us, we'll soon be done with political commercials. Voters say they don’t like negative ads. But a number of researchers say negative ads are essential to a healthy democracy. Illinois Public Radio Statehouse reporter Brian Mackey brings us the story of the positive case for negative campaigning.

 

Our two-part series looks at where Sen. Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth are on a few key issues, and why the politics of 2016 mean those policy positions may not have much effect on the outcome.

Several downstate mass transit districts say they are on the verge of shutdown — or have already shut down.

Thousands of people rely on the services to get to medical appointments, the grocery store, or even work. And in turn the services rely on the state of Illinois for their funding.

A key source of funding for the Department of Natural Resources could be blocked. Or maybe not.

Last Friday, central Illinois held its final naturalization ceremony before this year’s election.

Fifty-eight men and women entered Springfield's Old State Capitol as citizens of 30 nations. An hour later, they left as citizens of one.

We’re just over a month away from the election of 2016. It’s a season of campaign advertising, speeches, debates, and of course polling.

Every election cycle, Illinois voters are asked their opinions on a range of issues by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU Carbondale.

This year, they weighed in on elections for president and U.S. Senate, the popularity state government leaders, and whether Illinois ought to amend its constitution to lock in road-building money.

Could the Republican nominee's emphasis on "law and order" derail a growing bipartisan consensus on crime and punishment?

A federal judge has blocked an Illinois law that had been aimed at making it easier to vote this fall.

The law required the state’s biggest cities and counties to let citizens register to vote on election day and at their local polling place. It did not impose the same requirement on smaller election authorities.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library digitized a rare copy of a 1956 presidential primary debate. What does it have to say about American politics today?

Internet Archive Book Images / Flickr

Illinois is more than a year behind on payments to people who’ve been wronged by state government. Such individuals can seek compensation through the Court of Claims, which hears cases ranging from injuries caused by state workers to people unjustly imprisoned for crimes they did not commit.
Chief Justice Peter Birnbaum says the court has not let the budget impasse interfere with its work.

"I made the decision for the court: Let’s issue these orders, enter these awards. Because we felt that the claimants deserved to know that they won."

Prisons often take an expansive view of their power to censor what inmates are reading. It makes sense that they might ban a book on, say, how to escape from jail. But what about medical textbooks? Classic works of literature? Or even a picture of a cat?

A central-Illinois physician has lost another round in his fight to become an independent candidate for Congress.

In an era of political gridlock, one of the few topics on which there's been hope of bipartisan cooperation is on the issues of crime and punishment.

Politicians have traditionally been averse to doing anything that could get them painted as being "soft on crime."

It's an easy attack, and one that's been frequently deployed in the past. But this year, criminal justice reform advocates are fighting back.

Debates over the minimum wage usually come down to economics — whether it helps or hurts workers and businesses. But new research suggests another potential winner: babies.

Economists have long known that people who make more money are generally healthier.

The ongoing budget debacle that’s hobbled Illinois government was front and center today in Springfield.  The "Budgeting for Results” commission is supposed to be hearing from the public about how state government can be more efficient. 

A Bloomington man running for Congress has successfully sued to keep his name on the ballot.

David Gill is running as an independent, and failed to file the number of valid signatures required by Illinois law.

That number is much higher than it would be if he were running as a Democrat or Republican, and a federal judge on Thursday ruled that Gill must remain on the ballot.

  Earlier this week, when Republicans rallied at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, it was as though they were on that classic game show "Password," where no one was allowed say the name of their party's presidential nominee.

Thursday, however, Democrats took the opposite tack, saying the name again and again. Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey tells us about what you might call the Democratic Party's Donald Trump strategy.

Illinois Democrats are working hard to promote awareness of the Republican presidential nominee.  Donald Trump polls far behind Hillary Clinton in Illinois.  Many local Republicans are keeping their distance, but Democrats want to push them back together.  

As Illinois Democrats rallied in Springfield today, one name was on everyone’s lips.  At a morning meeting, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin was the first in a long parade of Democrats who delighted in taunting the other party.

In just a few years, one man has transformed the Illinois Republican Party from a perennial also-ran into a serious contender. Bruce Rauner been an agenda-setter, a shot-caller, and a rainmaker. And his party’s true believers couldn’t be happier.

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