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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Wednesday is the last day of the Illinois General Assembly's annual legislative session.

It also happens to mark 700 days since Illinois last had a real budget. Majority Democrats still aren’t saying whether they plan to do anything about that.

The Illinois House has approved a plan to raise Illinois’ minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour. But it faces an uphill climb to become law.  A higher minimum wage has been a rallying point for Democrats and labor unions across the country.

Illinois Democrats remain divided over how to address the state’s financial crisis.

Illinois’ top election officials say the nearly two-year budget stalemate could interfere with preparations for next year’s election. The warning came at a budget hearing Sunday afternoon.

Democrats in the Illinois Senate today made another attempt to meet the demands of Governor Bruce Rauner’s economic agenda.  The Republican governor has said the expense of workers compensation insurance has driven businesses out of the state.

Douglas Coulter / Flickr/Creative Commons

Native Illinoisans would have an easier time changing the gender on their birth certificates, under legislation approved today in the Illinois House.  Under current law, only people who’ve had gender reassignment surgery can ask to change their birth certificates.  

Creative Commons

Democrats in the Illinois Senate are preparing to go it alone on a budget plan. On Tues. morning, they’re set to consider both spending cuts and tax increases. 

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says talk of impeaching President Donald Trump is premature.

That's at odds with positions taken last week by at least three of the Democrats running for governor in Illinois.

Illinois Senate Democrats on Wednesday passed part of a budget plan for state government.

If it also passes the House and is signed into law, it would be the first real budget Illinois has had since 20-15. But that’s a big “if.”

Mixed results today when Illinois Senate Democrats went ahead with voting on the so-called “grand bargain.” It's been widely seen as the best hope for ending Illinois' nearly two-year budget stalemate. 

Both the Illinois House and Senate return to work in Springfield today. Just over two weeks remain before the annual legislative session is scheduled to end.

A controversial abortion measure was approved Wednesday in the Illinois Senate. It would expand government funding of the procedure.

There was another setback Wednesday for efforts to end Illinois' budget stalemate.

Senate Democrats attempted a series of test votes on items in the so-called “grand bargain.” But Republicans refused to go along, saying more negotiation is needed to reach a deal they can support.

A nonpartisan research group says Illinois’ desperate financial condition is getting even worse.

The Civic Federation of Chicago says unless something is done soon, by next year the state’s pile of unpaid bills could consume half of all new tax revenue.

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is putting his heart into attacking the Republican health care bill — literally.

Durbin is citing his own recent cardiac procedure to point out what he and other Democrats say are flaws in the legislation.

Illinois’ budget stalemate has held up compensation for people who’ve been unjustly imprisoned. But on Thursday, a bipartisan group of state senators took a step toward fixing that.

The death of a one-year-old child in Joliet Township has Illinois' child-welfare agency on the defensive.

Department of Children and Family Services director George Sheldon testified Wednesday before a state Senate committee.

Illinois DCFS

The head of Illinois’ child welfare agency is defending the decision to leave a toddler in a Joliet Township house where she was later found dead. George Sheldon answered questions about the incident today at a state Senate hearing in Springfield.

One-year-old Semaj Crosby was found dead, under a couch, last Thursday. Her mother had reported her missing a couple days earlier — and just before that, the family had been visited by a caseworker from Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services.

Democrats in the Illinois Senate say they want Republican support for a partial state spending plan.  The proposal would free up more than $800-million for human services and higher education, neither of which have been fully funded since summer 2015.  

Flickr Creative Commons/dieselboii

The state budget impasse has left Illinois months behind in payment to downstate mass transit agencies. That’s led to cuts in service from Kankakee to Jacksonville.  The agencies are funded in part by local sales tax collections. But that money has to pass through state government. Even after another $19.3 million dollars was released today, the Illinois comptroller’s office says the state still owes transit agencies $70 million dollars.  

IL GOP / YouTube

Republican state Senator Kyle McCarter of Lebanon is proposing deep cuts to get to a balanced budget, without any accompanying tax hikes. 

The Republican’s proposal includes a 10 percent reduction across state government. McCarter says he has nothing to lose. He’s pledged to term limit himself out of the general assembly and is not seeking re-election. But he acknowledges that this sort of plan is difficult for many politicians to get behind. That’s why he says Gov. Rauner should lead the way by identifying specific cuts. 

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says he and his colleagues will take up a partial government spending bill passed by the House earlier this month.

The minimum wage, abortion rights, and the state budget were among the rallying points for women marching on the Illinois Statehouse Tuesday. The event put liberal issues — and Democratic candidates — front and center.

Women from across Illinois are expected in Springfield Tuesday for a march and rally at the Statehouse.

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.

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