Illinois General Assembly

Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

President Barack Obama returned to his political beginnings Wed. and delivered an unprecedented hour-long speech to Illinois state lawmakers. He delivered the speech on the 9th anniversary of the day he launched his campaign for president from Springfield.

The point of the speech was to address the extreme political polarization he sees happening in the country - and Illinois. But afterwards, just about the only thing Republicans and Democrats agreed on is that the speech wouldn’t change things.

A Chicago lawmaker plans to try again next spring to drop criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. 

Governor Bruce Rauner making an urgent appeal to lawmakers to uphold his veto of a measure he called the "worst" he's ever seen, on the eve of a possible vote.  

Negotiations on a full year's budget appear to remain far apart ... but it's up to Governor Bruce Rauner whether Illinois will make due with a downsized version for July.

Democrats passed what they say is a one-month, bare-bones budget over Republicans' objections, including Gov. Rauner's, who had this to say about it last week:

"This is just getting to their four billion dollar whole one month at a time ... I don't support that bill. I do not, I will not sign, I don't support that bill."

A stop-gap budget is on its way to Governor Bruce Rauner, and that's as far as it will probably get. Legislators are moving forward on another front, too.

Just before Illinois began its new fiscal year at the start of the month, Gov. Rauner rejected the bulk of the state budget. Meaning Illinois is without one.  That's left service providers and state employees wondering when, and if, they'll be paid.

Democrats say the temporary budget they've now passed will keep the most important needs covered, through July. Here’s one top Senate Democrat, Heather Steans:

Legislators are running out of time if they want to override Governor Bruce Rauner's veto of the state budget.  That would have to be done by tomorrow.

Illinois has been without a spending plan since the start of this month. Democrats did pass budget by an end of May deadline ... only for Rauner to reject nearly all of it, calling it out of balance. He left school funding intact.

Last week, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan was coy about whether legislators would try to reinstate the vetoed spending.

As Illinois' budget stalemate continues, Democrats continue to dispute whether the governor's office is spending too much on staff. Just how much Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration is costing taxpayers was supposed to be the subject of a hearing, called by House Revenue Chairman John Bradley.

"Is there anyone from the governor's office here to testify?"

Why the silence? No one from the governor's office showed. That's a breach of legislative decorum that's virtually unheard of.

Illinois state lawmakers have rejected a plan to give Chicago Public Schools a short-term reprieve from a big pension payment.


Chicago Public Schools has to ask Illinois lawmakers in Springfield for permission to delay paying 634 million dollars for teacher pensions. It’s due at the end of this month.

Jesse Ruiz is the interim head of Chicago Public Schools - and wanted to put the payment off for 40 days to find a “permanent solution.”


Remember last year's election? There was a non-binding referendum to raise the minimum wage in Illinois to $10 an hour. A majority of voters said they wanted it to happen.

But the General Assembly hasn't been able to get it done.

"I am planning on not allowing the minimum issue (to) fall by the wayside. It's a critical component to the development of the middle class."

Peoria Public Radio

The spending plan Democrats approved is broken into 20 different bills ... and most  have yet to be sent on to Governor Bruce Rauner.

That means Rauner is not yet able to sign them into law ... or reject them.

Senate President John Cullerton says Democrats held the bills back so Rauner would have time to think ... rather than veto them right away.

Republican Representative Eddie Sullivan, of Mundelein, says he's ready for Democrats to hurry things along.

Cullerton says budget stalemate can be resolved

Jun 17, 2015

The President of the Illinois Senate says he's optimistic the budget showdown can be resolved before state services are affected.  Illinois' current spending plan expires at the end of this month, but there's no deal on a new one.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is still pushing his agenda, which includes pro-business laws and forcing legislators to limit their terms in office. The Republican's ideas have landed with a thud in the Democratic-led General Assembly.

Despite their differences, Senate President John Cullerton says progress is being made. 

IL State Auditor to retire

Jun 17, 2015

Illinois' longtime top auditor has announced he'll retire at the end of December.

Bill Holland is only several years into his third, ten-year term. But the 63-year-old Springfield resident says he's ready to spend more time with his grandchildren. 

The governor and legislature's leaders issued statements commending his expertise, professionalism and fairness.

Holland offered some advice to whomever is chosen to replace him --- respect the position.

Federal records show that Illinois television stations will begin to air ads Tuesday, paid for by Governor Bruce Rauner's political action committee. 

When the depths of the dispute between Republican Gov. Rauner and the General Assembly's Democratic leaders really became public at the end of last month, Senate President John Cullerton said the governor had warned a media blitz was on the way.

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger is preparing for what could happen if there's no state budget in place when the new fiscal year begins next month.   The Republican who controls the state's checkbook says she'll outline the consequences of inaction during a news briefing today (Wednesday). That includes state workers who won't get paychecks and facilities that may have to be closed.  Her office says she'll discuss a timeline of what may come in the coming weeks.   Illinois lawmakers are at an impasse over the state budget.

So-called "clean energy" measures to encourage using solar or wind-generated power and keeping nuclear power plants profitable have stalled in the Illinois General Assembly as the spring session winds down. 

Despite huge pushes to alter Illinois' energy policies, it appears none will advance before the end of the month when the General Assembly is set to adjourn.  

Illinois' longtime House speaker is forming a bipartisan task force to examine a way to fix the state's outdated school funding formula. 

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced it will hear oral arguments in the state's landmark pension-overhaul case on March 11. 

Former Gov. Pat Quinn worked right up until his successor was sworn into office last week. 

Legislators scurried to pass a smattering of bills Wednesday, as the veto session neared its end. Although the Senate is set to meet Thursday morning, its calendar is fairly empty. 

Millions more workers would have access to private retirement accounts under a proposal approved Wednesday by the Illinois General Assembly. It would require companies with at least 25 employees, which do not already offer retirement plans, to automatically enroll workers in a new type of individual retirement account.

Illinois residents could have a harder time access government information under new legislation before the General Assembly. The plan makes it harder for people to get repaid legal costs when a government wrongfully denies access to public documents. At the same time, it makes it easier for governments to keep certain information off-limits.

Getting a traffic ticket would cost you a few extra dollars under legislation before the Illinois General Assembly.  A pair of state legislators want to increase by $6 the penalty you pay for a traffic citation, or nearly any other offense, with some of that extra money going to help for police cameras. 

Wednesday, Illinois’ General Assembly will get a new member. Chris Nybo  will take the oath of office, even though the election is still several months away. Elmhurst attorney Chris Nybo will have to beat out Democrat Suzanne Glowiak of Western Springs to win a full term in the State Senate. 

Summer is a time lawmakers can work on legislation that didn't move anywhere during the General Assembly's spring session. One of those proposals would require school children be read their Miranda Rights. Hannah Meisel reports.

It happens in schools across Illinois: one student pushes another in a hallway, or there's a full-fledged fight. Often, police, based on- or off-campus will come break up the altercation. That means an official police report will be filed.

Downstate mayors want pension overhaul

May 1, 2014
Lee Strubinger / Illinois Public Radio/WUIS

A couple dozen mayors from throughout Illinois came to Springfield Wednesday, calling on legislators to help fix downstate pension systems that they say are unsustainable. IPR'S Lee Strubinger reports. 

Municipalities are on the hook for paying local police and firefighters’ retirement benefits. But the pension rates are set by the state. Mayors say lawmakers have increasingly “sweetened” benefits, and that's left many pension systems severely underfunded.

Something notable was missing from Governor Pat Quinn’s State of the State address this week: talk about Illinois’ finances. Presumably that’ll come when he gives his budget address next month. This got IPR'S Lee Strubinger wondering: why not have just one speech?

Like Quinn, Senator John Sullivan of Rushville is a Democrat. Still, he says the State of the State speech was lacking detail, and it left him wondering what will happen to the state's budget.

Preview of fall veto session

Oct 21, 2013

For the first time since a brief special session in July, legislators will begin making their way en masse to Springfield this week, for the fall veto session. The agenda before them is relatively light. The General Assembly will likely debate some budget matters. And there's a hearing on a new type of health care coverage for retired state employees. Illinois Public Radio’s Amanda Vinicky previews what else is ahead: 

Governor Pat Quinn says he does not support an opponent's proposal to change the Illinois Constitution.

Illinois General Assembly sues Gov. Pat Quinn

Jul 30, 2013

The leaders of the Illinois General Assembly have sued Governor Pat Quinn over his veto of lawmakers' salaries. As IPR’s Brian Mackey reports, the leaders say they're trying to protect the independence of the legislature: