Illinois Politics | WGLT

Illinois Politics

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Come Friday,  when the New Year begins, 237 new laws will be in effect in Illinois – about half of those that passed during Gov. Bruce Rauner’s first term. But the state is still without a budget as Rauner and lawmakers fight over a handful more.

Duckworth Slams Kirk For Refugee Stance

Dec 31, 2015

It's been over a month since the terrorist attacks on Paris and the shooting in San Bernardino, California, sparked intense debate over how to handle Syrian refugees. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth says she's angry about how her opponent for U.S. Senate, Republican Senator Mark Kirk, has characterized her position on refugees.

Rauner Needles Madigan Over Meeting

Dec 18, 2015

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says that's inaccurate and that Rauner gave no proof to back that claim. Brown says the governor's office had been warned days before that Madigan had a conflict, and could have rescheduled.

Rauner says the recent meeting was productive, but talks did not include the budget. School funding, pension debt, and Rauner's so-called "Turnaround Agenda" were the topics.

The Governor and lawmakers went seven months without getting together, but have met three times in as many weeks.

Illinois has more individual units of government than any other state. A task force report approved yesterday says that ought to change. IPR's Amanda Vinicky has more.

Zopp Backs Coal

Dec 16, 2015

U.S. Senate candidate Andrea Zopp says something has to be done to fight global warming. But the Democrat opposes President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan.

Zopp, a former prosecutor and businesswoman, says a focus should be on capturing emissions from burning coal. Illinois' coal industry says it will suffocate under the limits imposed by Obama's plan.     

The other Democrats in the primary race, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, and state Senator Napoleon Harris, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Even with all of its fiscal troubles ... Illinois will have to put nearly 8 billion dollars into its retirement systems next year -- that's a quarter of the state's expected revenue.  Legislative leaders and the governor may be ready to talk about how they may be able to reduce costs. IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports.

Even with all of its fiscal troubles ... Illinois will have to put nearly 8 billion dollars into its retirement systems next year -- that's a quarter of the state's expected revenue.  Legislative leaders and the governor may be ready to talk about how they may be able to reduce costs. IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports.

State Rep Bill Mitchell Decries Tax Hike

Dec 10, 2015

State Representative Bill Mitchell of Forsyth says a tax hike proposal from the Democratic House Speaker is more of what put Illinois in it's current precarous fiscal prediciment.

A year ago, Illinois' income tax rate fell by 25-percent. The top Democrat in the Illinois House is suggesting is go back up.  IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports.

Following a rare speech at the City Club of Chicago, longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan was asked this question about the state budget:

"How high do you think taxes need to go?"

Madigan tried to avoid getting specific, saying at first:

Voice of America News: Henry Ridgwell from the Turkish border by Aleppo

Illinois' Republican Governor, Bruce Rauner, is denouncing recent anti-Muslim statements from his party's frontrunner for president.  But Rauner is sticking to his position on Syrian refugees. As IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports ... he's even taking it a step further.


PATH and Collaborative Solutions Institute

The effect of the state budget deadlock has entered a new phase.

Illinois Lottery

The Illinois Lottery will resume paying out big prizes, thanks to a partial budget just signed into law. But that won't be enough to end a class-action lawsuit.  IPR's Amanda Vinicky reports:

Gov. Bruce Rauner has planned another round of talks on state budget with legislative leaders in Chicago.  Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly says the meeting is Tuesday afternoon at The James R. Thompson Center.  The Republican met last week with leaders for first time in months, including Democratic
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton.


The election for U.S. Senate in Illinois is expected to be one of the most competitive contests in the nation next November. Incumbent Republican Mark Kirk has opposition, though it may not be well funded or organized. But, there are significant candidates running on the Democratic party side battling for the right to face Kirk. Andrea Zopp (left)  is making her first central Illinois campaign swing and sat down for this talk with Charlie Schlenker.

Brian Mackey / Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

At least one aspect of Governor Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda" is moving forward. A commission working on an overhaul of the state’s criminal justice laws has approved its first set of recommendations. IPR's Brian Mackey has more.

United States Congress / Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis says he was hoping President Obama's speech to the nation last night would contain a stronger, more comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS.  In a statement, Davis said "despite the president's claim that ISIS has been contained, it is clear their reach and influence is growing.  But unfortunately, what we heard tonight was much of the same."  Davis says the U.S. needs a plan to destroy terrorists abroad, but that "additional steps need to be taken to protect Americans here at home."

Chicago Pastors Say Rahm Betrayed Them

Dec 4, 2015

A group of South Side pastors say they feel betrayed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in his handling of a video showing a white police officer killing a black teenager. IPR’s Michael Puente reports. 

The State of Illinois owes Bloomington, Normal, and McLean County governments more than 5.4 million dollars according to public officials.

The measure approved by the Illinois House and up in the Senate next week would improve some of that cash flow crunch. The largest single chunk of cash owed local governments is Motor Fuel Tax Receipts. County Administrator Bill Wasson says release of that money would ease the process of going out to bid for road projects next spring.

Emanuel Cancels Climate Change Trip

Dec 2, 2015

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has canceled his trip to a Paris climate change conference to address a ``challenging time'' in Chicago after the release of a video showing a white police officer fatally shooting a black teenager. The former White House chief aide says instead of going to Paris, he's going to South Side churches, stores and restaurants to allow Chicagoans to talk to him freely without the presence of television cameras. The city last week released the graphic video showing the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

The Illinois House has endorsed a partial spending plan that frees up $1.9 billion for local governments, but also adds money for public safety in a compromise with Gov. Bruce Rauner. Language that releases already-collected tax money for cities and counties for road upkeep and emergency-dispatch services passed Wednesday and moves to the Senate. The Senate will return Monday.  

The House approved legislation last month releasing taxes collected on motor fuel and cellphone calls to help local governments even though there's no budget agreement.  

Illinois' newest state legislator has been sworn in. Sara Wojcicki-Jiminez is a Republican from Springfield. She was previously an aide to first lady Diana Rauner -- and a spokeswoman for the House Republican caucus.

Hannah Meisel / Illinois Public Media

A former prosecutor in the Cook County State's Attorney's office says it took far too long to investigate the shooting death of Chicago teen Laquan McDonald at the hands of a white police officer. That prosecutor happens to be running for U.S. Senate.

Democrat Andrea Zopp is praising Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's decision to fire police superintendent Garry McCarthy, one week after the city charged the officer who shot McDonald 16 times...and released the dashcam video of the shooting.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

With Illinois in its sixth month without a budget, the state's top political leaders met Tuesday in Springfield. It was the first time they'd all gotten together in months. We asked Brian Mackey to tell us whether anything was accomplished.

Human Service Providers Plead For A State Budget

Nov 30, 2015

When lawmakers and the governor finally agree on a state budget, some human services providers are asking them to pass a multi-year plan. IPR's Jamey Dunn has more.

Killeen Urges Lawmakers To Pass A Budget

Nov 30, 2015

Illinois lawmakers are set to reconvene this week, and college presidents are hoping they will make progress toward passing a budget. IPR's  Dusty Rhodes has more.

Three candidates have filed to run as Republicans for McLean County Coroner. Current Coroner Kathy Davis was appointed to fill a vacancy. Challenging her in the GOP primary next year will be Ryan Gibson and Gary Morefield. Monday was the first day of the petition filing period. The County Clerk's office also says there will be a contested race for County Board in District 10. Josh Barnett will try to knock off incumbent Ben Owens in the GOP primary for District 10 on the County Board.

The Democratic primary race for comptroller is over before it ever began; only today can candidates begin filing paperwork to run. They have until the end of the month. But Illinois State Senator Daniel Biss  says he won't turn in his petitions at all.  

Poe Post Filled

Nov 20, 2015

The chief of staff to Illinois first lady Diana Rauner has been appointed to the state House of Representatives. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez of Springfield will replace Republican Raymond Poe. Poe resigned last week to become Gov. Bruce Rauner's state agriculture director.

Sangamon County GOP Chairwoman Rosemarie Long made the announcement Friday. The 36-year-old Jimenez is a former television reporter who was also press spokeswoman to a Democratic state treasurer and then-House Republican Leader Tom Cross. She joined the first lady's staff in January.  

Rauner Reaches Deal With Some Unions

Nov 19, 2015

Governor Bruce Rauner has reached deals with SOME state worker unions ... but by no means ALL of them. Rauner's office trumpeted collective bargaining agreements with unions representing 500 workers. But there are still no agreements with a handful of other unions that collectively represent more than 40-thousand state workers. In a press release ... the administration blasts AFSCME, the state's largest public employee union, for its unwillingness to accept similar terms. AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says trade unions have independent health care plans ...

Some Child Care Cuts Rolled Back

Nov 18, 2015

Thousands of families who lost access to state-subsidized child care this summer are once again eligible. Governor Bruce Rauner in July drastically rolled back the program ... which helps low-income working parents afford daycare. Legislators were set to reverse the cuts last week ... but instead Rauner agreed to a deal. Action yesterday by a bipartisan panel puts that plan into action. Senator Toi Hutchinson, a Democrat from Chicago Heights, helped to negotiate with the governor.