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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Tamie Yost

Illinois lawmakers returned to Springfield today as state government is closing on 22 months without a budget, and prospects for an overall deal look grim.  Governor Bruce Rauner has been saying he’s heard there's good progress on an overall budget deal.  But Democrats in the Senate say they don’t know what the Republican governor is talking about. Legislators have been on a two week recess, and say no high-level meetings have been taking place.

Governor Bruce Rauner was asked Friday why he’s changed his position on an abortion law since the 2014 campaign.

Six of Illinois’ state universities have been put on notice for credit downgrades. It’s the latest knock on state government after more than 21 months without a full budget.

A pair of Illinois State Senators are pushing to fight what they says is discrimination in car insurance pricing.  The effort follows an investigation by Consumer Reports and ProPublica that found people in minority neighborhoods pay up to 30% more than drivers in white areas, even when they have the same accident risk.

Flickr Creative Commons/Chris Potter

The Illinois General Assembly is considering an overhaul of criminal court fees.  Defendants have been made to pay for an increasing array of programs in recent decades — from police training to prescription drug disposal.  Democratic Representative Elaine Nekritz, from Northbrook, is co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation to simplify and reduce the fees.

The Illinois Senate on Thursday passed stricter gun legislation long sought by the Chicago Police.

State legislators in Springfield are moving to address gun violence in Chicago.  The Illinois Senate today passed stricter gun laws long sought by the Chicago Police.  The legislation is meant to get judges to impose longer sentences on repeat gun offenders.

As Illinois enters its 22nd month without a real budget, the state services most affected by the political fight include those that help victims of domestic violence.

Illinois has entered its 22nd month without a real budget.  Among the state services most affected by the political fight are those that help victims of domestic violence.  Illinois doesn’t spend a lot of money fighting domestic violence, it’s way less than a tenth of a percent of the state budget. But since last summer, it’s spent nothing.

Two bills meant to expand internet privacy rights cleared procedural hurdles in the Illinois House.  

Chicago Democratic Rep. Art Turner Jr., says he wants to make it easier to find out what kind of information companies collect. He says that’s particularly important since President Trump and Republicans in Congress are scaling back federal protections.

The Illinois General Assembly is considering legislation meant to expand privacy rights on the Internet. Two of the bills cleared procedural hurdles Thursday in the House, but they both have powerful opponents.

If you’ve spent any amount of time online, chances are you’ve been confronted with a long privacy policy. And if you’re like most people, you scroll to the bottom and click “accept” — without reading it.

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.

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