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.

It’s been two years since Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled his Republican “Turnaround Agenda.” On Wednesday, a group of rank-and-file Democratic legislators responded with their own “Comeback Agenda.”

It’s been two years since Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner unveiled his Republican “Turnaround Agenda.” Today, a group of rank-and-file Democratic legislators responded with their own “Comeback Agenda.”

State Senator Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park, says the agenda grew out of frustration with the fighting and lack of progress in Springfield.

“We wanted to be for something. We wanted to outline a vision of where Illinois could go.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner was in the Chicago Suburbs Monday pushing to add toll lanes to Interstate 55. He also took the opportunity to attack Illinois Democrats.

The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday decided not to answer a question about whether non-profit hospitals must pay property taxes. The case began with Carle Hospital in Urbana, but has implications across Illinois.

Ten Republican senators voted for at least one bill in the grand bargain. We asked all of them about Gov. Bruce Rauner's role in stopping them from going further.

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A state senator from the Chicago suburb of Evanston is joining the race for Illinois governor.

A new poll says Illinois voters are divided on what to do about the state’s financial problems.

The poll puts Illinois' deficit at $10 billion, and gives voters three choices for how to fix it: raise taxes, cut "waste and inefficiency," or both.

Cuts were the most popular answer at 45 percent. Just 11 percent favored only raising taxes; about a third said do both.

Paradoxically, when you ask voters about specific areas to cut, most are rejected. Support was strongest for spending on education, poor people, and individuals with disabilities.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is taking her case over state employee pay to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Governor Bruce Rauner is accusing three of Illinois’ top Democrats of “coordinating” to shut down state government. All three deny the charge.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is taking her case over state employee pay to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Madigan is asking the justices to review a lower court order that’s kept state workers getting paid during the 20-month budget stalemate.

She says the order has enabled Gov. Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly to shirk their constitutional  obligation, avoiding tough decisions about state spending.

A court order revealed late last week makes it much less likely state employees will go on strike anytime soon.

The Illinois Senate’s so-called grand bargain was put on hold Wednesday. After months of negotiations and a deadline from their own caucus leader, Senate Republicans say they aren't quite ready to vote.

Democrats blame the last-minute withdrawal on interference by Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

The Illinois Senate is still planning to vote today on a so-called grand bargain to end the budget stalemate.

Senators passed the relatively easier parts of the “grand bargain" yesterday. Today come the more complicated votes, like cutting government pensions, freezing property taxes, and raising income taxes.
The tax hike in particular has prompted a couple of conservative activists to attack Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno. They say, in effect, she's selling out.

Members of the Illinois Senate return to Springfield  tomorrow. They’re once again expected to vote on a deal meant to end Illinois’ budget stalemate.  The top Republican and Democrat in the Senate have been working on this compromise since December.

Members of Illinois government's biggest labor union have voted to allow a strike.  The margin was 81-19, though roughly 40% of AFSCME members chose not to vote or were not eligible.  Union director Roberta Lynch says her members do not want to strike. She says she hopes Governor Bruce Rauner will resume negotiating.

In the week since his budget address, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has done little to promote his plan or defend it from attacks by Democrats. That’s a significant departure from last year.

Back then, Rauner toured the state, highlighting his call for greater funding of public schools. This year, he took a ski vacation in Utah.

City governments across Illinois are asking to have their state funding put on autopilot.  It’s the latest consequence of Illinois’ 20-month budget stalemate.  The money in question comes from taxes on gasoline, phone bills, and gambling. It's collected by the state and passed along to local governments.  That is, unless the powers that be never agree on a budget.

A group of Illinois legislators are pushing an agenda intended to help farmers who sell at local markets.

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.

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