Brian Mackey

Brian Mackey covers state government and politics for Illinois Issues magazine, 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.

Gov.Bruce Rauner declared victory Wednesday in a key battle against government labor unions and the Democratic Party.

AFSCME and other state employee unions have had a rough time in contract negotiations with the Rauner administration. So they backed legislation that would let an arbitrator decide the contract if the union and governor couldn't come to an agreement.

The governor vetoed that legislation, and Democrats in the House tried — and failed — to override him.

drugfree.org

The Illinois House has overruled Gov. Bruce Rauner over how to address heroin addiction in the state. 

Lawmakers spent more than a year working on a big anti-heroin initiative. It passed with both Democratic and Republican support, but Rauner vetoed a provision to expand treatment for low-income addicts.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin was among the bipartisan group of lawmakers who voted to overrule the governor's changes.

Durkin says heroin is a growing problem across Illinois.

A government labor union says it's “positive” the Illinois House will side with it over Governor Bruce Rauner. A key vote on whether to override Rauner's veto of a union-backed bill is expected tomorrow. 

Illinois legislators are considering whether local governments should be allowed to declare bankruptcy. Members of the Illinois House heard from dueling experts today.

Illinois Democrats say they're in an "epic" struggle with the state's new Republican governor. The party met in Springfield Thursday for its annual fundraising breakfast and State Fair rally.

The afternoon rally began with a tongue-in-cheek thank-you to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

"Why am I here to thank Bruce Rauner?" asked state Rep. Lou Lang, from Skokie. "Look around you — the Democratic Party has never been as energized or as organized as it is right now."

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday rebuked Governor Bruce Rauner in his labor negotiations with the state's biggest government-employee union.

After months of negotiations have failed to reach an agreement, unions want legislation that would let an arbitrator resolve intractable disputes.

Rauner vetoed it, saying it would tie his hands. He also promised not to lock workers out.

But Sen. Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park, says the real fear is that Rauner will demand workers accept "completely unreasonable" terms.

Democrats in the Illinois Senate are trying to secure funding for a program that helps low-income students pay for college.

Governor Bruce Rauner officially opened the Illinois State Fair Friday morning. But there is still no state budget in place, and Rauner would not say how Illinois is paying for the fair.

There were all the trappings of the usual fair grand opening: politicians, a Lincoln impersonator, a ribbon cutting.

But an impasse between Rauner, a Republican, and Democratic majorities in the legislature means Illinois has no legal authority to pay for the fair. Rauner, however, refused to answer questions about that — or anything else.

Should criminals bear the cost of their own rehabilitation?

Non-profit groups say the ongoing fight over the state budget could lead to tragic consequences for thousands of Illinoisans.

The agencies have state contracts for everything from taking care of people with disabilities to placing children in foster care. But the partisan fight over state spending means they're not being paid.

Al Riddley, on the board of the Illinois Partners for Human Service, says the groups are being led on a "death march."

Amid Illinois' ongoing budget battle, there was a rare moment of bipartisanship on Tuesday. Members of the Illinois House have voted to block a pay raise for themselves.

Lawmakers are scheduled to get an automatic pay hike this year, and Gov. Bruce Rauner has been relentlessly criticizing Democrats for not voting to block it.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s political ads have had the airwaves to themselves for two weeks. But as of Monday they’re getting some competition.

One of the longest-serving inmates in an Illinois prison was granted parole Thursday. Joseph Bigsby was a teenager in 1973 when he shot and killed a Chicago police officer.

With Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic legislative leaders unable to agree on a spending plan for Illinois, the odds of a government shutdown are increasing. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says that sort of crisis would be bad for business.

  With Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic legislative leaders unable to agree on a spending plan for Illinois … the odds of a government shutdown are increasing. U-S Senator Dick Durbin says that sort of crisis would be bad for business.

The Illinois Supreme Court says Comcast must give up the identity of an anonymous online commenter.  The individual in question is being sued for defamation, for a web post comparing a Stephenson County politician to Penn State pedophile Jerry Sandusky.  The politician’s lawyer, Andrew Smith, says the same rules apply whether comments are made on the radio, in a newspaper or online.

The Illinois House met in Springfield Thursday for an unusual June session. Democrats took a series of votes on changes to the workers’ compensation system.

Illinois just enacted a big, bipartisan overhaul of workers’ comp a few years ago. But Gov. Bruce Rauner says costs are still too high, and that more changes are needed.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner issued a budget warning to members of his cabinet on Wednesday.

Rauner told top officials get ready in case Illinois doesn’t have a budget in place by the state of the new fiscal year on July 1.

As the Illinois General Assembly’s spring legislative session comes to a close, Gov. Bruce Rauner has failed win passage of his "Turnaround Agenda." Brian Mackey has this assessment of three of the most common theories as to why.

The Illinois House is advancing a proposal to revamp the management of the state-run Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

The Illinois Senate began taking up parts of Governor Bruce Rauner’s pro-business agenda today.   They’re just as quickly taking them out.

A $10-billion lawsuit was back before the Illinois Supreme Court Tuesday. A group of smokers say Philip Morris defrauded them into thinking light cigarettes were safer than regular — but lost the case a decade ago. Now they’re hoping for another bite at the apple.

The case was decided way back in 2005, when a sharply divided Illinois Supreme Court overturned the record $10-billion judgment. The justices ruled that the Federal Trade Commission had approved marketing “light” cigarettes as safer.

A 10-billion dollar lawsuit was back before the Illinois Supreme Court today. A group of smokers say Philip Morris defrauded them into thinking light cigarettes were safer than regular, but lost the case a decade ago. 

The Illinois Supreme Court has struck down legislation that tried to cut retirement benefits for thousands of state workers. 

If you follow state government long enough, you start to hear the same things over and over again. That holds even across four decades.

Last week, I produced an obituary for the late Gov. Dan Walker, who died at the age of 92. In listening to several of his speeches from 1975 and '76, I was struck by the similarities to the sorts of things we hear from politicians today — particularly Gov. Bruce Rauner.

A former governor of Illinois has died. Dan Walker ran the state for one term in the 1970s. A Democrat, he focused much of his brief political career fighting members of his own party as he did the opposition Republicans.

At a time when most Democratic politicians in Illinois were cogs in a massive political machine, Dan Walker was a nobody.

Illinois officials gathered in Springfield today for the annual Holocaust memorial ceremony. As happens every year, a survivor shared her story. 


The Illinois House on Tuesday voted to patch a 1.6-billion-dollar hole in the current state budget.

  The budget was supposed to get Illinois through June, but already the state's running out of money for things like court reporters and prison guards. That’s in part because Democrats passed an incomplete budget last year — not wanting to raise taxes or cut spending.

Now Democrats and Republicans — including Gov. Bruce Rauner — say they’ve found a solution. But it continues to mostly avoid that difficult choice.

An Illinois Republican has proposed changing state law to let cities and towns declare bankruptcy.

Progressillinois.com

For the first time in years, legislation to raise the minimum wage is advancing in the Illinois House. Brian Mackey has more.

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