Illinois Politics | WGLT

Illinois Politics

Jim Browne / WGLT

Journalists in Illinois have come up short trying to get information about Governor Bruce Rauner's state email.

Ben Seidelman / Flickr

The legal age to smoke in Illinois would increase from 18 to 21 under legislation introduced in Springfield.

Ginnie Flynn, with the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians, doesn't smoke now. But she did when she was younger. She says cigarettes were easily accessible from a convenience store near her college dorm.

Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

After the hubbub of abruptly choosing a new County Board Chair, things in McLean County government are getting back to Normal. Charlie Schlenker talks with John McIntyre about how he's settling into his new job and why he picked Scott Murphy to succeed Matt Sorensen in Distrtict 2.

District 87 Schools

The District 87 school board recently passed a $10 million working cash fund bond to make up for the lack of certainty over money coming from the state. Superintendent Barry Reilly says the interest could be in the neighborhood of $200,000.

State agriculture director Raymond Poe was honored Tuesday by his former peers in the General Assembly. The Illinois House passed a resolution recognizing Poe, a Springfield area Republican, for his service. Representative Don Moffitt, a Knox County Republican, says it's bittersweet; bitter because Poe won't be in the house, sweet because Poe will do good things statewide.

Kewanee Juvenile Center to Close

Feb 12, 2016
Bill Whittiker / Flickr via Creative Commons

Governor Bruce Rauner's administration says it will close the youth correctional facility in Kewanee. Juvenile Justice Director Candice Jones says closing the facility, which opened in 2001, will save money, improve rehabilitation of young offenders, and improve community safety. She did not say how much money shuttering the center would save or how those savings would be used. Anders Lindall is spokesman for the state council of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. He says administrators ``blind-sided'' Kewanee staff with the announcement this morning.

WGLT Staff

President Barack Obama took a nostalgic trip Wednesday to the Illinois capital where he launched his national political career. In an address to lawmakers, he appealed for help ridding politics of ``polarization and meanness'' that he says discourage participation in civic life. The president offered a few prescriptions, including reducing the influence of big money, changing the way congressional districts are drawn and making it easier for people to vote.

Nyttend / Wikimedia Commons

State budget cuts could close the National Guard Armory in Delavan. Governor Rauner's office has included the armory in a list of cuts. When students at the high school in the Tazewell County Village heard that, they decided to mount a letter writing campaign. A group of high school students will deliver the packages, letters, drawings, and other materials to Governor Bruce Rauner's office Friday.

Illinois Department of Public Health

There is not yet a lot of demand for medical marijuana in central Illinois.

Anyone under 18 caught "vaping" could have to do community service, or pay a fine. Electronic cigarettes don't contain tobacco, but the vaporized solution users inhale does contain nicotine.

Senator Julie Morrison, a Democrat from Deerfield, says she doesn't consider them safe. Morrison says she'd kept stories about young people puffing on e-cigs. "They were openly and blatantly using these product publicly because there was no reason they shouldn't," she said.

landrachuck / Flickr via Creative Commons

The Illinois State Board of Elections decided in favor of three presidential candidates, but the decision could be appealed in court. Board members dismissed an objection to the candidacy of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Democrat. The board also ruled that Republican U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz can stay on the state ballot. Two Illinois residents separtely raised questions about the legality of Cruz and Rubio running for president. One of the objectors -- William Graham of Glen Ellyn -- says that while the senators are U.S.

MAP Bill Stalled

Feb 1, 2016

Illinois' Senate President is encouraging Governor Bruce Rauner to rethink his priorities on student aid legislation ... but the governor was quick to repeat his promise of a veto.
Senate President John Cullerton says he'll hold onto the legislation for a couple of weeks, to give the governor time to "cool off," then he'll end it along. In a statement, Cullerton urges Rauner to "not act rashly, but in the best interest of students."

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Some fissures may be showing in the unified Republican wall of support for everything first term Governor Bruce Rauner is doing. State Senator Dave Syverson, a Rockford Republican, says that until the state decides on whether to raise income tax rates back to previous levels, the government won't be able to agree on a budget deal. During the seven-month budget impasse, the state has been spending at last year's levels, but not taking in the same amount of revenue income tax rates rolled back last year.

Staff Sgt Lealan Bueher / Illinois Air National Guard

Many lawmakers are praising Governor Rauner's state of the state speech for its shift in rhetoric to more conciliatory tones. But, Democrats note there was little actual movement on the governor's turnaround agenda.

Brian Mackey / IPR

Gov. Bruce Rauner is repeating his call for changes he says will make Illinois more competitive. The Republican gave his second State of the State speech Wednesday. He says Illinois should be leading the country in economic growth but ``we are losing the race for good paying jobs.'' Rauner says the key is to pass pro-business legislation that he's been pushing for more than a year. They include changes to workers' compensation and freezing property taxes. The agenda items are the center of a stalemate over the state budget that's approaching its eighth month.

Early Voting Pushed Back

Jan 25, 2016
Jim Browne / WGLT

Early voting for the Spring 2016 primary is scheduled to begin February 4th. It won't. In a joint announcment McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael and Bloomington City Election Commission Executive Director Paul Shannon say challenges to a number of presidential nominees means ballots won't be available until February 17, at the earliest. The challenges are against Democrats Hillary Clinton, Martin J. O’Malley, Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, Larry (Lawrence) Cohen and Bernie Sanders. And Republicans Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.


One of the many painful parts of the state budget deadlock has been the uncertainty over state support for low income people attending college, so called MAP funding. Universities have floated that commitment so far.  It's unclear whether that continue. Some colleges and universities have said it cannot.

Brian Mackey / IPR

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner says he backs a top Democrat's proposed pension overhaul as long as it includes a union-weakening provision on collective bargaining. Rauner told reporters Thursday that he spoke to Senate President John Cullerton and they agreed to move forward. But Cullerton says Rauner misrepresented their conversations.

City Eliminates Township

Jan 20, 2016
Xing769 / Flickr

Belleville Township officials have decided to dissolve the 130-year-old township in an effort to save money. Board members voted unanimously to shut down the township on May 15, 2017. The Belleville City Council still needs to agree to take over the township's responsibility of providing aid to needy residents. The dissolution will be revoked if the city council doesn't vote by Aug. 1 on an ordinance to take over the township's duties. Trustee Michael Hagberg expects the city to approve such an ordinance.

Illinois' nine public university presidents say in a letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders that a failure to approve a budget soon could leave higher education damaged beyond repair. The letter says funds that have allowed several universities and community colleges to remain open through seven months of Fiscal year 2016 will soon run out and may result in closings. Officials of Chicago State University have said the school will run out of money in March.  

Trump Staying Power Surprises Durbin

Jan 18, 2016
Paul Combs / Creative Commons

US Senator Dick Durbin says it’s too early to say who could come away with the GOP nomination for President. The Illinois Democrat says that with the Iowa Caucuses two weeks away… he believes even most Republicans couldn’t yet answer that question. Durbin says in his experience… voters need to wait until early March, after a few primaries and caucuses… to get a true sense of who’s leading. But the Senator admits surprise with Donald Trump’s high polling numbers.

Illinois Not Paying Electric Bill

Jan 15, 2016
Jayette Bolinski / Creative Commons

State Senator Andy Manar has filed legislation that would allow Illinois to catch up on payments to the city of Springfield's utility. The budget impasse has left the state with a mountain of debt. Manar represents a portion of Springfield. He says the state needs to take responsibility for its bills.

Democrats Push Auto Voter Registration

Jan 13, 2016
Mpen320 / Creative Commons

Some Democratic lawmakers say they want to make it easier for Illinois residents to be able to vote. State Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill is sponsor of legislation to automatically register people to vote when they get or update a driver’s license.

Earl R. Shumaker / Creative Commons

Officials in a northwestern Illinois community say a federal prison's hiring bump is coinciding with increased interest from real estate developers who want to know about available land. Thomson Village President Vicky Trager says inquiries about development are up. She says there's also more traffic from new workers and their families. Trager says it's been a smooth process. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons says there are 237 positions filled at Thomson Correctional Center. Another 13 positions have been selected and are expected to start work within a few months.

Rauner Claims A Productive First Year

Jan 11, 2016

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he's taken steps to improve Illinois during his first year in office, but the job ``is nowhere near complete.'' Tomorrow/today marks one year since the Republican businessman's inauguration. Since then, Rauner and Democratic leaders have been unable to agree on a state budget or other major issues such as how to eliminate Illinois' $111 billion unfunded pension liability.  

The top Republican in the Illinois Senate says "it's possible" the standoff over a state budget could last for several years if Democrats aren't willing to compromise. She says if Illinois continues to spend money at current levels without raising taxes the state's backlog of unpaid bills could reach almost $25 billion in four years. That's based on a report from GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget office. Radogno says "While I hope it doesn't happen, I think it's possible." Radogno says Democrats are too concerned with maintaining the status quo.

More than 30-thousand state employees are members of AFSCME, Illinois' largest public employee union. The union says Governor Bruce Rauner has walked away from contract talks.

It was clear early on that Rauner, a Republican, was no fan of AFSCME. He once bestowed a nickname upon the union:

"the children in poverty. I'd rather have my tax dollars going to that, than SEIU or AFSCammy, who are out there for their own interests."

Monday (today) is the first day presidential candidates can officially file to run in Illinois.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says Illinois won't help Chicago Public Schools avert a financial "disaster" unless Mayor Rahm Emanuel starts pushing some of the Republican governor's legislative agenda. Rauner says he won't change that position even if CPS begins laying off thousands of teachers.  

CPS faces a $1 billion budget shortfall, due largely to increasing pension payments. Emanuel wants state lawmakers to change how pensions are funded to reduce CPS' costs and make the system more equitable for Chicago taxpayers.  

Barickman on the Senate floor

Democratic Lawmakers and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner have each been unwilling to give enough to reach a budget deal over the last six months. When and how the deadlock can be broken depends on pressure.

In this interview with Charlie Schlenker GOP State Senator Jason Barickman who represents part of Bloomington-Normal says both sides are losing, as is the state.