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.

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.

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

Democrats remain in firm control of the General Assembly, so it's not surprising Michael Madigan was re-elected speaker of the House for a 17th time. That's despite a Republican Party campaign to pressure Democrats into dropping him.

Meanwhile, over in the Senate:

"The state needs a budget. Period." (applause)

State Rep. Michael Madigan on Wednesday will seek his 17th term as speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. He's not expected to have any trouble winning.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and his fellow Republicans have spent years vilifying Madigan. But lately the party has gone further, trying to sway House Democrats away from re-electing Madigan as their leader.

Republican interference in the House Democratic leadership election is not just a departure from political norms. It's also a huge departure from Illinois history.

Governor Bruce Rauner and his fellow Republicans have spent years vilifying House Speaker Michael Madigan. Lately, the party has gone further… trying to sway House Democrats away from re-electing Madigan as their leader. 

As Chicago confronts an increasing murder rate, the Illinois legislature is trying to take on the root causes of violence in some of the state's most traumatized communities.

Paul Coussens

Details of a massive, bipartisan compromise meant to end Illinois' budget stalemate emerged today in the Illinois Senate. But the plan has been put on hold.

Illinois legislators return to Springfield Monday. Disagreements between Democrats and Republicans have left state government without a full budget for more than 18 months — though Senate leaders are now said be trying to hammer out a compromise.

Illinois' senior U.S. senator, Dick Durbin, is raising questions about President-elect Donald Trump's pick for attorney general. Durbin met yesterday with nominee and fellow Senator Jeff Sessions.  Durbin, a Democrat, says his first priority was to ask Sessions about violence in Chicago. There were 762 murders reported there last year.

Partisan gridlock has caused Illinois to run without a full budget for more than a year-and-a-half. But there's one area Democrats and Republicans are working together.

It's one of the rare bright spots in Springfield: Members of both parties have been coming together to improve the criminal justice system.

"I think that's right. In fact, in the bill that you just called me about -- there was very strong bipartisan support."

Representative Barbara Flynn Currie is majority leader in the Illinois House. The "bill" she referred to is now a law.

Partisan gridlock has caused Illinois to run without a full budget for more than a year-and-a-half. But there's one area Democrats and Republicans ARE working together.

It's one of the rare bright spots in Springfield: Members of both parties have been coming together to improve the criminal justice system.

"I think that's right. In fact, in the bill that you just called me about ... there was very strong bipartisan support."

Any day now, Governor Bruce Rauner's criminal justice reform commission is expected to release its final set of recommendations. It's trying to figure out how to safely reduce Illinois' prison population by 25% over the next decade.

With the dysfunction in Illinois politics, state government this year is projected to spend as much as $13 billion more than it will collect in taxes. And the situation could be getting worse.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has made clear his intention to seek re-election. Days before Christmas, he dropped 50-million dollars into his campaign account.

Meanwhile, Democrats are pondering who should take him on. But they are not alone.

As we get ready to welcome 2017, we thought we’d take a few minutes to listen back to another tough year in Illinois government and politics.

Governor Bruce Rauner's administration is accusing Illinois' biggest government union of an unfair labor practice.

An Illinois group is warning that if Obamacare is repealed without a replacement, there could be significant human and financial consequences.

President-elect Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans made repealing the Affordable Care Act a key plank in their campaigns.

That could be expensive, says Illinois Hospital Association president A-J Wilhelmi.

Pages