Brian Mackey

Brian Mackey covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

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Environmental groups are criticizing Ameren Illinois for what they describe as backing away from energy efficiency goals.

Environmental groups are criticizing state regulators for a decision involving Ameren Illinois. The state Commerce Commission is letting the power company reduce its goals for energy efficiency.

The efficiency targets were part of a big state energy law passed last year. Its main purpose was to keep two of Illinois' nuclear power plants open. The investment in “clean energy” was part of the deal.

But Ameren says it cannot meet its efficiency goals, at least not cost effectively. And now the Illinois Commerce Commission is basically saying: OK.

More than two months after the Illinois General Assembly finally approved a state budget, Gov. Bruce Rauner is moving ahead with a plan to begin cutting into the $15 billion backlog of bills.

It’s been two months since Illinois government finally passed a full budget. Legislators hoped that would accelerate the payment of overdue bills, which total more than $15 billion. But the governor’s office is holding that up.

It’s been two months since Illinois government finally passed a full budget. Legislators hoped that would accelerate the payment of overdue bills. But the governor’s office is holding that up.

The math seems pretty simple: Illinois is paying interest penalties of 12 percent on some debt. But like refinancing a home mortgage, we could borrow to pay that off at closer to 4 percent.

Gov. Bruce Rauner, however, doesn’t seem to like that idea.

“Just more borrowing — in and of itself, without a plan for repayment — would be a huge mistake.”

The Illinois state treasurer is urging legislators to override one of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s recent vetoes. Democrat Mike Frerichs says the override is needed to help people claim life insurance benefits. 

color:#3D3D3D;letter-spacing:.05pt">With Labor Day parades stepping off across Illinois today, Democratic politicians are thinking about how to win back the once-solid support of union members.

Illinois State Senator Bill Brady formally became the Illinois Senate Republican leader Tuesday. He's been acting as minority leader since Sen. Christine Radogno resigned at the end of June.

The Illinois legislature this afternoon approved a major, bipartisan overhaul of the way Illinois funds public education.

Backers are calling it a landmark reform. It would focus state spending on areas with more students in poverty — though no school district would get less funding than it does today.
Democratic state Senator Kimberly Lightford, from Chicago, says the change has been a long time in coming.

Election officials in Chicago say the personal information of 1.8 million voters was found unsecured on the Internet.

Another Illinois legislator will not be seeking re-election.

State Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez is from Leland Grove, near Springfield.

She was among the Republicans who defied Governor Bruce Rauner — helping Democrats pass Illinois' first budget in two years.

Illinois Republicans are gearing up for Gov. Bruce Rauner’s re-election fight. At a state fair rally Wednesday, they made clear their campaign will focus on one man.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation that makes it illegal to expel toddlers from preschools.

Backers of the new law point to a study that says toddlers and other Illinois preschoolers are expelled at a rate three times greater than their older, school-age counterparts.

“I just want you to let that sink in.”

Governor Bruce Rauner has signed legislation that makes it illegal to expel toddlers from preschools.

Backers of the new law point to a study that says toddlers and other Illinois preschoolers are expelled at a rate three times greater than their older, school-age counterparts.

“I just want you to let that sink in.”

State Rep. Juliana Stratton is a Democrat from Chicago.

“When you see expulsion in early years, it leads to higher suspension and expulsion rates in later grades."

Another voice is urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to work with the budget that was passed over his objections.

A Republican state representative is urging Governor Bruce Rauner to issue bonds to start paying down the backlog of bills.

Representative David Harris, from Arlington Heights, is one of the Republicans who voted with Democrats to raise taxes and pass a budget. He says the state’s 14-billion dollars in unpaid bills was a big reason why.

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to step up the pace in dealing with the state’s debt.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed parts of the Democratic education funding overhaul known as Senate Bill 1. He used his Constitutional power to make recommendations for changes in the legislation, saying he wanted to stop a "bailout" of Chicago schools. But Democrats accuse him of tacking right and waging an "assault" on public education.

The Illinois State Fair opens in one week. Years of budget cuts and deferred maintenance have led to a series of problems at the fairgrounds. But officials say they’ll be ready.

Several Democrats running for governor of Illinois are proposing the state enact universal healthcare.

Illinois is finally making good on some of its most overdue bills — compensating people who were unjustly imprisoned.

Steven Vance / Flickr/Creative Commons

 

Passing a budget wasn’t the only thing Illinois lawmakers did last week. They also named a major road after former president Barack Obama. 

After more than two years, 16 Republicans split from Gov. Bruce Rauner to help Democrats pass a budget for Illinois. It spends less than Illinois has been during the impasse, and raises the individual income tax rate from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent.

What was the breakthrough? Was this really an uprising among rank-and-file legislators? Does Rauner benefit from this outcome? And is the end of Illinois' fiscal problems?

Illinois’ two-year budget impasse is over. The House of Representatives on Thursday overrode the governor's budget veto, giving final approval to a spending plan and tax increase.

The Illinois House will meet Thursday to try to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget veto.

A day after Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois vetoed the state’s first budget plan in two years, the Democrats who control the legislature are plotting when they'll try to override him.

Brian Mackey (File Photo) / NPR Illinois

Governor Bruce Rauner has vetoed Illinois’ first complete budget legislation in more than two years. The Illinois Senate already voted to override him. Now the question is when the Illinois House will try to do the same thing. Bond rating agencies have warned of “junk” status if Illinois doesn’t act soon, but state Representative Lou Lang says he believes the rating agencies will see Illinois is moving in the right direction.

The budget plan includes spending cuts, changes to the state pension systems, and a tax increase. Sixteen Republicans broke with Rauner to get it passed.

Two bond rating agencies say Illinois is on the right path with the budget plan passed Sunday in the state House of Representatives.

The Illinois House has approved a 1.2 percentage-point increase in the state income tax.

Last night, more than a dozen Republicans joined the majority Democrats to pass the legislation, despite the objections of Governor Bruce Rauner.

Illinois will enter a third straight year without a budget. But lawmakers say they’re getting closer, and will continue to meet this weekend.

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