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.

Seth Perlman / AP Photo

The Illinois House is set to return to Springfield this week. Policymakers are still puzzling through last week's budget proposal by Governor Bruce Rauner. That’s partly because the Rauner administration made a significant break with tradition.

A St. Clair County judge has denied Attorney General Lisa Madigan's motion to halt state employee pay in the absence of a complete state budget. Illinois has gone nearly 20 months without the governor and General Assembly coming together to create a full, balanced spending plan. It means state employees will continue to be paid as legislators and the governor continue their fight over how to pay for Illinois government.

Governor Bruce Rauner is finally weighing in on a bipartisan deal meant to end Illinois’ budget stalemate.
He shot down a key component of the compromise.

Rauner was kept out of the Senate negotiations from the start. He has since praised them in general, but refused to get into specifics. Until now.

In his budget speech to the General Assembly, Rauner says he does support expanding the state sales tax to cover more services — but says he opposes taxing groceries and drugs.

Democrats say no. Rauner says yes. Brian Mackey tries to figure out who's right.

Gov. Bruce Rauner makes his annual budget address Wed. before the Illinois General Assembly. Democrats say Rauner has never introduced a balanced budget. The governor disagrees.

Illinois is in its 20th month without a state budget, and the question of who's to blame depends on whom you ask: Comptroller Susana Mendoza, a Democrat, or Gov. Rauner, a Republican.

"The governor's job is to introduce a balanced budget. He hasn't done that, and there's no way to sugarcoat that. That is not an alternative fact; that is a true fact," Mendoza said. 

Jeff Sharp / Flickr

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is scheduled to make his third annual budget presentation this Wednesday. It comes as the top leaders in state government have gone 19 months without even trying to balance the budget. Gabe Petek monitors state finances for S&P Global Ratings. He says he’s not aware of any other state having gone this long without a spending plan.

The Civic Federation of Chicago has laid out a map to lead Illinois out of the fiscal abyss.

The non-partisan government research organization says Illinois’ biggest problem is state government’s failure to pass a budget for going on two years.

Laurence Msall, executive director of the Civic Federation, says the state needs a combination of spending limits and higher taxes to begin slowly restoring its finances.

Chicago's Civic Federation has laid out a map to lead Illinois out of the fiscal abyss.  The non-partisan government research organization says Illinois’ biggest problem is state government’s failure to pass a budget for going on two years.

Legislation to keep Illinois government functioning without a full budget stalled Thursday. Democrats and Republicans have dueling proposals to keep paychecks flowing to state employees.

The Democratic plan would pay state workers through the end of the budget year — June 30th.

The Republicans responded with a plan to pay state workers forever, even if Illinois never adopts a full budget.

Shortly after that, Gov. Bruce Rauner came out with a video saying how terrible it was that Democrats put an end date on their bill.

A group of social service organizations are suing the state of Illinois over the budget impasse. They were contracted to do work on behalf of Illinois government — and now say they ought to be paid.

Illinois signs contracts with the organizations to take care of the state’s neediest people — like AIDS patients, drug addicts, and the homeless.

Legislation to keep Illinois government functioning without a full budget stalled today in Springfield. Democrats and Republicans have dueling proposals to keep paychecks flowing to state employees.  The Democratic plan would pay state workers through the end of the budget year, June 30th.  The Republicans responded with a plan to pay state workers forever, even if Illinois never adopts a full budget.

The Illinois Senate began voting Wednesday on what’s been called a “grand bargain” to end the state’s 19-month budget fight. But the supposedly bipartisan agreement got zero Republican votes.

WTTW.com

Leaders in the Illinois Senate say the bipartisan budget deal is still on track. That’s despite a series of test votes that drew protests from Republicans.

Members of the G-O-P say they want to settle every aspect of the compromise before voting.
But Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat, says every day the state goes without a budget, it’s piling up another 11 million dollars in debt.

“I think that the pressure should be on the Republicans from the business community to finally realize that they have to do something quickly."

The Illinois Senate is still negotiating a compromise to finally rectify the state's historic failure to enact a budget. The proposal has changed a lot in the month since it was introduced. 

Paul Coussens

After 19 months without a state budget, Illinois senators today were not yet ready to move forward on a compromise plan intended to end the impasse.  Democrats and Republicans spent hours behind closed doors, arguing about whether the deal negotiated by their leaders was good enough to end Illinois’ unprecedented budget fight.

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

The Illinois Senate could begin voting tomorrow on a bipartisan compromise meant to end the state's budget standoff.  Senate President John Cullerton says for every day without a spending plan, Illinois goes 11 million dollars deeper in debt.

Former Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger has a new job as a deputy to Governor Bruce Rauner.  It was just a few months ago that voters turned Munger out of office. The Republican lost to Democrat Susana Mendoza by about five percentage points.  Rauner had appointed Munger to that job; now he's given her another.  

This story has been updated.

Illinois’ Congressional delegation is overwhelmingly opposed to President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration.

All 13 of Illinois' Congressional Democrats have come out against the president’s temporary ban on refugees and certain Muslim-country immigrants.

The Republican members of the delegation have been slower to respond. They’re also divided.

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin on Wednesday voted against two of President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees.

In the morning, Durbin and all Democrats on the Judiciary Committee voted against attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions.

It came days after Trump fired the acting attorney general for refusing to enforce the president’s order on refugees and immigration.

"This is a constitutional moment, and a challenge to us to envision what the next attorney general will be facing in the remaining three years and 11 months with this president," Durbin said.

Illinois U-S Senator Dick Durbin today voted against President Donald Trump's pick for Attorney General. Brian Mackey reports.

Durbin, like many Democrats, is critical of Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions on a variety of topics, from whether he'd thoroughly investigate Russian interference in last year's election to his past support of restrictive voting laws.

Republican members of Congress from Illinois are divided on President Trump's executive order on refugees and immigrants. So far, three of Illinois' seven Congressional Republicans have issued statements saying they're OK with the president's order.

A report says the outlook for the Illinois economy is bleak.

The Illinois Senate left Springfield Thursday without voting on a bipartisan effort to end Illinois' budget stalemate. But hope springs eternal.

The so-called grand bargain — devised earlier this month by the Senate's top leadership — was like a chili recipe where the cooks keep swapping ingredients. The latest version would increase the income tax by one-and-a-quarter percentage points, and further decrease government pensions.

It would also fully fund Illinois government for the first time since 2015.

  Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his third State of the State speech WEDNESDAY. Brian Mackey reports it comes amid a protracted political fight that's decimated parts of state government.

 

The State of the State address is usually a time when governors tout accomplishments.

 

The Illinois Senate is this week expected to consider a bipartisan compromise meant to break the 18-month budget stalemate.

The framework shows there are many areas in which Democrats and Republicans can come to an agreement. But it still leaves one big philosophical question unanswered.

That question is whether a governor can say: "Pass my agenda, and only then will I negotiate on a budget."

Democrats, like state Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago, have resisted that ultimatum.

After last year’s historic violence in parts of Chicago, a group of state legislators are once again pushing for tougher gun possession laws.

The proposal would ratchet up minimum prison sentences for people who illegally carry a gun.

The ACLU of Illinois opposes the legislation in part because it says it would target the act of carrying a gun, not shooting it.

The Illinois Supreme Court considered a case Thursday that asks whether not-for-profit hospitals have to pay property taxes.

Illinois state legislators opened a new two-year session of the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday. Amid the ceremonies and celebrations, the focus remains on the political stalemate that's left Illinois without a budget for more than 18 months.

Michael Madigan was re-elected speaker of the House Wednesday in Springfield. It was the opening day of the 100th General Assembly, and Madigan used the occasion to call for a focus on economic growth.

Flickr Creative Commons/Daniel X. O'Neil

Michael Madigan was re-elected speaker of the House today in Springfield. It was the opening day of the 100th General Assembly. And Madigan used the occasion to call for a focus on economic growth.  Madigan's agenda consists largely of ideas he's suggested before: cutting the corporate tax rate, increasing taxes on millionaires, and raising the minimum wage.

Pages