Thousands of senior citizens and persons with disabilities are waiting to learn if Illinois will change how it determines who qualifies for state aid and what kind of services are provided. As the state's embroiled in budget gridlock, it's one of the areas Governor Bruce Rauner tried to cut back on spending. But legislators (including a handful of Rauner's fellow Republicans, a rarity) voted to prevent that.

On Friday, Rauner used his veto powers in an apparent attempt to strike a balance.

Advocates for senior citizens and people with disabilities are assessing how action Friday by the Republican governor affects services they say they depend on.

Early this year, Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled a plan to save money, by making it harder for the elderly and disabled individuals to qualify for government aid.

People not deemed needy enough would no longer receive state-provided home care workers, or state-paid nursing home care.

Gov. Bruce Rauner continues downplaying the prospects for the upcoming meeting between he and state legislative leaders. Meanwhile, the partial government shutdown means some state universities might have a hard time making it through the spring semester. The Chicago Tribune's Monique Garcia joins the panel to talk about that and more on the latest episode of State Week.

Illinois Issues/WUIS

On Tuesday, voters in Ohio considered whether to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana use. It would have created a new provision in the state's constitution that allowed only ten farms to grow the plant legally. That plan had its critics, and the measure failed. Many experts have their eye on Ohio - as it serves as an example of Midwestern residents trying to take on the legalization issue that has swept Colorado and the West Coast.

The Illinois Supreme Court has once again ruled in favor of tobacco giant Philip Morris. The decision, announced Wednesday, saves the company from a $10.1 billion judgment. 

The case has been before the court off and on for more than a decade. A group of smokers say Philip Morris tricked them into thinking “light” cigarettes were safer than regular. 

Thomas Fitzgerald
Brian Mackey

Thomas Fitzgerald, a judge who had a leading role in the aftermath of some of Illinois’ most notorious political scandals, died on Sunday at his home in the Chicago suburbs.


The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency board of directors has dismissed the director and appointed its general counsel to hold the post on an interim basis. 

Brian Mackey / WUIS

Senior citizens are among those feeling the pain of Illinois' partial government shutdown. AARP and other groups are calling on the state’s top politicians to set aside their differences and pass a state budget.

The cost of the system, so far, is covered by a $9 million federal grant. The State Board of Education estimates the first-year cost of developing the program at about $1.1 million, followed by $2.5 million each of the next three years.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner has so far focused his attention on business and union issues, and restructuring state government - like workers' compensation, tort reform and legislative term limits. But what about his education agenda?

At East Alton-Wood River High School, as well in schools across the state, the measurement of academic improvement is based on a single test given over two days once a year. “It’s silly to measure a school’s performance by that,” says the Superintendent.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The makeup of Illinois schools is changing. If you moved every desk, from every Illinois school, into one giant classroom, more than half of the kids in those seats would be students of color.

That's on par with national figures; last year the U.S. Department of Education signaled that minorities would outnumber whites at the nation's public schools.

Good news on the state budget: It seems the governor will finally meet with all four legislative leaders to discuss their differences. Bad news on the state budget: Gov. Bruce Rauner says he doesn't expect much to come of it. And yet: "I wouldn't give up hope so soon," House Speaker Michael Madigan said of the governor's remarks.

Illinois Supreme Court Building
Illinois Supreme Court

Judicial races are getting increasingly politicized, according to a study published Thursday surveying 2013-2014 state Supreme Court races called "Bankrolling the Bench."

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The constitutional requirement for a balanced budget is not as strict as you might think.

Days after an Illinois high school student died from football injuries, a Cook County judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging the sports' governing body didn't do enough to protect athletes.

Bruce Rauner

Did the voters know what they were getting?

Illinois has hit a cash flow problem and will not be ably to make its monthly pension payment in November and possibly December. The state's inability to cover its expenses has some asking the question: will Illinois run out of money?

SEIU Healthcare Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner recently reached an agreement with a trio of unions -- representing some 300 plumbers, machinists and engineers and operators. But he's still at odds with unions representing the bulk of state employees: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the Service Employees International Union.

SEIU represents home care workers -- people who help the disabled and elderly care for themselves. Denise Gaines, legislative director of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, says now, these workers get paid to take important training.

Brass rail outside the Governor's office
Amanda Vinicky / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Mark your calendars. A date has been set. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has called a meeting with the legislature's leaders to talk about the budget impasse for Nov. 18.

Illinois still has no budget plan and no progress on an agreement is in sight.  The state is spending far more than it's taking in, higher education and social services have largely been left out to dry, and Illinois' credit rating continues to be downgraded.  Meanwhile, Governor Rauner is beginning to face criticism from within his own party.  Kurt Erickson of Lee Enterprises joins the panel discussion this week.


Illinois has twice seen its credit rating take a hit this week.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

 On the state's 113th day without a budget, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner Thursday sloughed off critical comments made by his a pair of his predecessors.

Former Gov. Jim Edgar's still a popular figure within the Illinois GOP, which is why the harsh nature of his recent remarks garnered a lot of attention. Edgar scolded Rauner for putting his pro-business agenda ahead of the budget.

Then another Republican Governor from the past - James Thompson -- also said that Illinois' is in the worst position it's ever been.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

News Analysis — On September 18, 2012, the year before Bruce Rauner declared his candidacy for governor, he shared his vision for a crisis that could help reshape state government.


Illinois lawmakers' one-day session Tuesday yielded no budget breakthroughs. The state's been without a spending plan for what'll soon reach five months.

Illinois lawmakers have been unable to come together on a state budget, but they did reach a significant bipartisan agreement Tuesday.

Wikimedia commons

Members of the Illinois House and Senate will be in Springfield again Tuesday, but there's still no budget deal for them to vote on.

Illinois' public university presidents had warned in a letter of the "irreparable damage" being caused by having to wait three months, and counting, for state money to come their way. Now, they're taking their case to the capitol. University leaders could have audiences with the governor, and legislative leaders. Senate President John Cullerton's spokeswoman, Rikeesha Phelon, Cullerton will set aside time to meet with them.

It's fast approaching the time that the governor and Illinois lawmakers would typically begin planning for next year's budget, even though they've yet to settle on one for this year. Two-year budgets are standard practice for some states.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has released parts of his 2014 state and federal tax returns that show he and his wife, Diana, made $58.3 million last year.

Illinois’ comptroller says the state doesn't have the cash to pay into the public pension systems next month, the governor suggests selling the aging Thompson Center in Chicago, and the former head of Chicago’s public schools pleads guilty to charges of corruption.  WBEZ's Becky Vevea and Lauren Chooljian joins the panel.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois' lack of a budget means public pension systems won't get their state contribution next month. That won't stop retirees from getting their checks. However, there could still be an impact.