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State Government

Dan Brady speaks
Courtesy / House Republicans

House Republicans have put an ethics reform package on the table in Springfield.

Barickman on the Senate floor
senatorbarickman.com

State Sen. Jason Barickman of Bloomington said the problem of violent rhetoric in American politics spans both parties.

Updated 11:55 a.m. | A Bloomington-Normal real estate broker has thrown his hat in the ring once again in the race to unseat Republican state Rep. Dan Brady in 2020.

Colleen speaks to a crowd
Jeff Smudde / WGLT

In the 90 days since Gov. JB Pritzker appointed her head of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Colleen Callahan said she’s gained an understanding of just how big an impact the state’s two-year budget impasse had on the agency.

Bruce Rauner (left) and JB Pritzker (right)
AP / AP

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker each reported income of roughly $55 million last year.

Rauner and Pritzker released partial copies of their 2017 tax returns Tuesday.

Rauner's filing shows he and his wife reported about $54 million in state taxable income and $52.7 million in federal adjusted gross income. They paid $13.9 million in federal income taxes and $2.1 million in state income tax.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

The Heartland Community College Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to move ahead with a debt swap that administrators hope will increase financial flexibility.

Larry Dietz speaks to crowd
Lyndsie Schlink / Illinois State University

The president of Illinois State University said Thursday's passage of a state budget is a welcome relief. Larry Dietz said more work remains to be done, but at least there is a way forward.

"It makes life a lot easier in terms of the planning. Frankly we have felt that nobody cares much about education because there has been no scheme and no plan to fund it," said Dietz.

IPR

As Illinois’ top political leaders struggle to end a two year budget standoff, one of them has announced she’s resigning.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno is stepping down effective Saturday. That’s the first day of Illinois' new budget year, and would be the third without a real budget unless she and the other legislative leaders cut a deal.

Raymond Cunningham / Flickr

The Illinois State Fairground's iconic Coliseum won't open its doors to guests and shows this year.

The 116-year-old amphitheater closed last October after being deemed unsafe for use. Seven shows must leave the fairgrounds for alternative sites. These include horse shows, a midget-car race and an ancient athletics re-enactment.

Mike Miletich / WGLT

A State Senator from Evanston is telling McLean County Democrats they can't allow millionaires to buy the government and use it against the middle class. 

Melinda Soutthivong / Flickr

Illinois lawmakers may be including a proposal to tax sugary drinks in the state budget.  

Senate Bill 9 would tax any drink that has five grams of sugar or more. Under the bill, distributors would be required to impose a penny-per-ounce tax on retailers. The tax would produce an estimated $560 million for state.  

Those in favor of the tax on sugary beverages believe it would be a responsible revenue generator. People opposing the bill say it could have a negative effect on the industry and its employees.  

Enrique Dans / Flickr

Governor Bruce Rauner has received a lot of traction with his push for term limits. Voters seem to love the idea just as much as legislators hate it, even if the governor's plan doesn't seem all that practical. 

It's pretty clear Rauner's desire for term limits is at least partially rooted in animus for House Speaker Michael Madigan, who's been a state representative since 1971.

The earliest Illinois could amend its constitution to include term limits is 2018. Only then would the 10-year clock start ticking on lawmakers' careers.

182nd Airlift Wing / Wikimedia Commons

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner was on-hand Tuesday for an expansion of a food manufacturing company in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. The company’s growth in Illinois stands in contrast to Rauner’s constant criticism of the state’s business climate.

Since Rauner has taken office - he’s said there’s too many regulations, and it’s too expensive to do business in Illinois. Tuesday, Rauner took the unusual step of applauding a company for expanding in Illinois, while still criticizing the state government.

Youtube

Illinois’ fiscal situation is hitting state legislators in their wallets.  They’ll finally be paid Tuesday for work done in May.

Illinois owes $8 billion, but it doesn’t have the money to pay right away. 

That whopping backlog is hard to put in perspective.

But maybe not for legislators, who are only getting paid once that monthly expense reaches the top of the stack of overdue bills.  Paying all 177 of them runs Illinois more than $1.1 million each month.

Better late than never. Legislators will get their annual salary of at least $67,000 a year.

Justin Newman / Flickr

Federal prosecutors have recommended that a judge impose the same 14-year prison sentence on Rod Blagojevich at his August resentencing that the imprisoned governor received at his original sentencing in 2011.

The filing by the U.S. attorney's office comes after an appeals court struck five of the Chicago Democrat's 18 convictions last year.

Youtube

Comptroller Leslie Munger says without a new budget agreement, Illinois will again stop paying lottery winners, 911 call centers and higher education grants starting July 1.  

Munger addressed Illinois' ongoing budget impasse Thursday. She said without new legislation, her office won't be able to write checks. The Republican says the situation could lead to wave of costly lawsuits.  Illinois is poised to enter a second fiscal year without a budget.  

Matt Turner / Flickr

A major credit rating agency has downgraded Illinois' rating to two levels above ``junk'' status, citing the ``political gridlock'' that's prevented the state from getting a balanced budget for more than a year.

Moody's Investors Service lowered Illinois' rating on $26 billion in debt by one level, to Baa2. The downgrade also affects $2.75 billion in revenue bonds.  

Moody's noted Illinois has a multibillion-dollar budget gap and its bill backlog is likely to exceed a previous record of $10 billion.  

Procurement Compromise Advances In General Assembly

May 26, 2016
Illinois State Capitol exterior
Justin Brocke / Flickr

Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner says the state needs to change how it purchases products and services as part of a budget deal. But Senate Republicans say a compromise that passed out of committee Wednesday needs more work.

Rauner administration officials say they oppose the legislation even though they say they like parts of the measure, like streamlining processes and allowing cooperative purchasing. But they want certain exemptions from purchasing rules for agencies like the Capital Development Board.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Nuclear energy workers are in Springfield Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to save two of Exelon's Illinois plants.

The energy behemoth says unless legislators pass a law by the end of this month, it will shut down the plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities.

Jeff Bartz, who's from Colona, says that would lead to a loss of thousands of jobs, and wipe out a big part of the regional tax base. Bartz says nuclear power has advantages.

Pet Adoption Bill Leads To Dispute

May 24, 2016
Luke McCoy / Flickr

A bill that would've required universities in Illinois to offer healthy cats and dogs to rescue organizations after animal testing has provoked a dispute between its Democratic sponsor and the University of Illinois.

IPR

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he’s optimistic Democrats and Republicans can reach a big compromise on a budget deal. But time is running out before a big deadline at the end of the month.

The state’s now gone 10 and a half months without a budget. Court orders kept the much of the government’s lights on. Governor Rauner says he’ll be negotiating this week but he doesn’t expect a deal until the last second on May 31st.

That’s because starting June 1st - procedures change and it takes more Yes votes to pass a budget.

Illinois Hospital Association

The Illinois State Board of Elections has ordered Auditor General Frank Mautino to provide more detail about his campaign spending as a state legislator.  

The board decided to set July 1 as the deadline for the Democrat from Spring Valley to explain campaign expenditures which are the subject of a citizen's complaint.  Assistant Executive Director Jim Tenuto says staff will review the amended reports to determine whether further action is required.  

Democracy Chronicles / Facebook

An attorney linked to top Illinois Democrats is again suing over an effort to let voters decide if the power to draw political maps should be given to an independent commission.  

Thursday's lawsuit is brought by a well-known Chicago elections attorney who successfully fought a similar 2014 effort and has been House Speaker Michael Madigan's general counsel.  The lawsuit alleges the proposed Nov. 8 ballot question doesn't meet constitutional requirements, puts together unrelated questions and imposes new duties on the auditor general and Supreme Court members.  

IL House GOP / Youtube

Questions continue to swirl regarding irregular campaign expenses reported by Auditor General Frank Mautino  from his time as a Democratic state representative.

Republican legislators formally requested in February that Mautino explain the spending.

State Representative Grant Wehrli of Naperville says three months later, they're still waiting.

He and other Republicans held a press conference expressing their frustration. They also released a copy of a letter they just sent Mautino , saying his delay is eroding the public's trust in his office.

Illinois Woos Spy HQ

Mar 4, 2016
Unknown / NSA.gov

The head of a federal spy agency that plans to relocate its regional headquarters from St. Louis is scheduled to visit a possible new home in southwestern Illinois. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency director Robert Cardillo is joining Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and the state's two U.S. senators for a private briefing at MidAmerica Airport today. The site has emerged as one of the $1.6 billion project's two front-runners. St.

Jim Browne / WGLT

Gov. Bruce Rauner has announced proposals he says would help shrink Illinois government and its costs. The proposals include legislation allowing voters to decide whether to dissolve units of local government.

The Republican publicized four bills Friday in Naperville. Officials there are considering merging road-maintenance services with a township. Three bills are aimed at making township consolidation easier with specific plans for Evanston and DuPage County. The other allows voters to petition for a referendum.

Gov Unveils IT Upgrade Plan

Jan 25, 2016
Steve Vance / Flickr via Creative Commons

Governor Bruce Rauner says Illinois is in the stone age when it comes to information technology. While delivering a speech at the Department of Corrections Administration, the first term Republican pointed to that agency as an example of inefficiencies. But he isn't talking about reducing inmates, but increasing administrative efficiencies at the Department, and their paperwork load.

Staff

Illinois State University President Larry Dietz expressed frustration over the current budget stalemate during his appearance on GLT's Sound Ideas. The governor and legislative leaders have gone more than seven months without being able to agree on a state spending plan. Dietz talks about that, and the social media event hosted by Illinois State in association with President Obama's State of the Union Address.

Brian Mackey / IPR

New figures from Republican Governor Bruce Rauner's administration outline just how deep Illinois' deficit is, as the state's in is seventh month without a budget. Even without a budget in place, Illinois is spending million more than last year. Despite the fact that Illinois' taking in less revenue -- the income tax rate rolled back at the start of 2015.

LongitudeLatitude / Flickr

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.

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