Statehouse

150% of capacity
11:38 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Clock Ticking On Illinois Prison Crowding

Credit flickr/dnak

A watchdog group says whoever wins the race for governor is going to face difficult choices about Illinois’ prisons. The group on Wednesday is laying out what it’s calling a “roadmap” for overhauling crime and punishment — and wants to know where the candidates stand.

The non-partisan John Howard Association says decades of “tough on crime” policies have led Illinois to lock up 49,000 people in a system designed to hold 32,000.

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Election 2014
2:23 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Bruce Rauner, Before He Was A Candidate (Author Interview)

Credit Chicago Magazine

Though Gov. Pat Quinn remains largely private about his personal life, he has been in the public eye for decades -- there were unsuccessful bids for treasurer, Secretary of State and the U.S. Senate, as well as successful ones for Illinois Treasurer, Lieutenant Governor and, most recently, for Governor.

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Carbon Emissions Cuts
1:06 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Clearing The Air On Clean Air Plan

Environmental advocates met at the state capitol to thank Gov. Quinn for his support of the federal proposal requiring states to curb carbon emissions from coal power plants, and asked that he put an emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Illinois regulators are continuing to develop a plan to reduce the state's output of greenhouse gasses. Environmentalists say they have the Pat Quinn to thank. Or do they?

Illinois has had clean energy targets for years, but this latest effort isn't part of that. Rather, the state's Environmental Protection Agency and commerce commission are preparing for a proposed federal rule. It would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from coal-fired power plants.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Ad Wars: Illinois' Gubernatorial Candidates in Campaign Waged Primarily Through Advertising

An ad seeks to tie Quinn to patronage allegations at the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues
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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Legislative Races: GOP Aims to Eat Into Democratic Majorities in the General Assembly

State representative candidate Mel Thillens
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 Republican Mel Thillens is a first-time candidate for the Illinois House, but his name has been carried across the state on the sides of large trucks for years.

The third-generation owner of the armored truck company that bears his name, Thillens is one of dozens of GOP candidates trying to reverse the damage his party suffered two years ago.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Polling Pains: Polling Blunders Happening Nationwide

Pollsters this spring predicted Bruce Rauner would have a 17-point lead over then-state Sen. Kirk Dillard, but Rauner’s victory was by less than three percentage points. Pictured above, from top to bottom, are GOP primary candidates: state Sen. Bill Brady, Dillard, Rauner and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford.
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 In the final month of the 2010 campaign, the political career of Gov. Pat Quinn appeared to be nearing its end. Poll after poll showed him down by four, six or even eight percentage points. The mathematical models of stat-geek superstar Nate Silver — fresh off correctly predicting the outcome in 49 of 50 states in the 2008 presidential election — gave Quinn just an 18 percent chance of winning. You know how that turned out.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2014

State of the State: Tinkering with the Constitution Demands Careful Consideration

Brian Mackey
Credit mattpenning.com 2011 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

   Twenty-fourteen was going to be a banner year for direct democracy in Illinois. At one point, it was possible voters would be asked to weigh in on as many as seven different ballot questions, including four constitutional amendments. But as the election draws near, two of those ideas are off the table: Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s push to impose legislative term limits failed to meet the requirements of the Constitution, and a separate attempt to change the way House and Senate districts are drawn failed to gather enough valid signatures.

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Illinois Issues
12:00 am
Wed October 1, 2014

End And Means: Term Limits Wouldn't Shake Up Springfield

Charles N. Wheeler III
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

 

To hear the bluster of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner and his lackeys among the state’s editorial writers and punditry class, the court decisions tossing his proposed initiative to impose term limits on lawmakers was a shocking slap in the face of Illinois citizens and a huge victory for the Dark Lord of Illinois politics, House Speaker Michael J. Madigan.

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Statehouse
5:00 pm
Tue September 30, 2014

Court Rules AFSCME Members Are Owed Money

An Illinois appellate court has ruled that back wages owed thousands of state government workers from 2011 to 2013 must be paid.
 
A panel of judges from the First District Appellate Court found that members of
the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees should get the
back pay and the Legislature's failure to appropriate enough money to cover the
raises is not a reason to renege on them.
 
The ruling supports an independent arbitrator's decision that the government's

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Elexction 2014
8:40 am
Mon September 29, 2014

Retirement Plan At Center Of Dispute In Ill. Treasurer's Race

State Rep. and former House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego, and Democratic Senator Mike Frerichs of Champaign
Credit campaign photos

Last month, Champaign Senator and Illinois treasurer candidate Mike Frerichs found himself on the defensive after opponent Tom Cross blamed him for costing Champaign County millions of dollars more than a decade ago, when he served as county auditor.  He and the Republican challenger are at odds over an early retirement program.

Cross (R-Oswego) contends the plan, passed more than a decade ago by the Champaign County Board, backfired, while Frerichs calls those allegations ‘lies’.

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Pensions
4:54 am
Mon September 29, 2014

Pensions: Vexing Illinois Politicians Since 1917

The tally in the Illinois House on the pension overhaul law.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

The underfunding of the state's pensions have grabbed headlines the past several years, and finally reached the political tipping point late last year when legislators passed an overhaul of the systems. It's a recent response to a very old problem.

It was Gov. Pat Quinn who signed the law that reduces state workers' and most public school teachers' pensions -- a controversial plan that's at the center of a lawsuit.

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Election 2014
7:34 am
Sat September 27, 2014

Mike Lawrence: The Compelling Challenge Of Rehabbing Illinois

Mike Lawrence
Credit IGPA

The following is an op-ed written by Mike Lawrence for the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.  Lawrence was a longtime journalist, Press Secretary for Gov. Jim Edgar and later directed the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Gov. Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner are having a brawl -- trash-talk and all. So, it's less likely with every gouge and grunt, that either will focus on rescuing Illinois until after the election -- if then.

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State Week
1:11 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

Listen to State Week - September 26, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS
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Election 2014
8:34 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Quinn, Rauner Share Hazy Stance On Decriminalizing Pot

Credit Thinkprogress.org

It's hard to find common ground between Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican businessman Bruce Rauner, but when it comes to decriminalizing marijuana, they're on the same page. Both have a stance that's well, hazy.

"It's worthy of looking at," Quinn said about the idea of reducing penalties for people caught with small amounts of pot."It's basically something I think the legislature should have hearings on. I think a lot of people should have input on. I do think that it's worthy of consideration."

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State Hiring
2:51 am
Thu September 25, 2014

IDOT Layoffs Halted, But Quinn Wants To Proceed

Gov. Pat Quinn was at an unrelated appearance in Springfield when he was asked about the timing of the IDOT layoffs.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Gov. Pat Quinn wants to proceed with getting rid of dozens of Illinois Department of Transportation employees. The layoffs won't happen for at least another month.

Gov. Quinn doesn't claim the layoffs as his idea; rather, he says it was his newly-appointed IDOT Secretary, Erica Borggren, who came up with the "reorganization" that'll leave some 58 employees out of work.

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Election 2014
8:48 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Illinois Among Tops In U.S. For Campaign Ad Spending

Credit espensorvik/flickr

If it seems as though the number of political ads on television has ramped up markedly this election, now there's concrete proof.  

Illinois has seen a roughly 30 percent increase in the number of TV ads and the money spent to air them this election cycle compared to four years ago, according to an analysis by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity. That jump has been fueled by a neck-and-neck contest for governor pitting wealthy Republican Bruce Rauner against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.  

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Wed September 24, 2014

Can Politics And Prison Reform Mix?

Bruce Rauner is airing ads criticizing Gov. Pat Quinn's handling of a prison early release program back in 2009.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

As a candidate for governor once again tries to make political hay over a prison early-release program, a group of state lawmakers met in Chicago Tuesday to consider drastic changes to Illinois’ criminal justice system.

Republican Bruce Rauner is trying to remind voters about a botched, secret early release program that dates to Gov. Pat Quinn’s first year in office.

Campaign ad: “Two-hundred thirty violent criminals, secretly released early by Pat Quinn.”

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Statehouse
4:44 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

Chicago Mayor: Lower Penalties For Drugs

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is seen in this file photo.
Credit cityofchicago.org

  Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday called on state lawmakers to reduce penalties for drug possession.

  Two years ago, Chicago began allowing its police to issue tickets for possessing small amounts of pot, rather than immediately making an arrest.

Emanuel says the change is working: "We have seen about 4,100 fewer arrests in that area."

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Election 2014
9:54 am
Tue September 23, 2014

Group Wants More Information For Voters When Selecting Judges

Credit istockphoto.com

One Illinois group wants voters to be better informed about judges, who will be among the lesser known candidates on the November ballot.  

The Illinois Civil Justice League on Tuesday is unveiling an initiative to provide biographies, ratings and other background on 158 sitting judges in the state seeking retention and another 69 candidates in contested races for seats on the bench.  

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Election 2014
2:14 am
Tue September 23, 2014

A Redo On Redistricting

Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Advocates seeking to change how Illinois draws its legislative districts are following through on a promise to keep trying, even after getting knocked off of this year's ballot.

Members of the "Yes for Independent Maps" effort cheered when they turned in half million signatures to state elections authorities in May.

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Election 2014
3:39 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Polls Showing Illinois Governor's Race A Draw

Bruce Rauner; Gov. Pat Quinn
Credit WUIS

Illinois' race for governor is shaping up as one of the most competitive in the nation. And it's impossible to tell who's winning.

For a while, Bruce Rauner was ahead. The Republican private equity investor kept besting Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in every poll.

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State Week
4:45 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Listen to State Week - September 19, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS
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Op-Ed
3:47 pm
Fri September 19, 2014

Chris Mooney: More Evidence-Based Policymaking Needed

Chris Mooney
Credit IGPA

Chris Mooney is Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.  The following is an article he authored:

Prisons vastly are overcrowded. College tuition is rising fast. Roads and bridges are crumbling. Public pensions are on the verge of disaster.

Why is Illinois state government so inept? While public problems are inherently difficult to solve, Illinois seems to be particularly adrift these days.

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Election 2014
3:02 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Can A Governor Really Create Jobs?

Gov. Pat Quinn
Credit Quinn campaign

This story first appeared as Illinois Issues' State of the State column in the September 2014 edition of the magazine.

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Election 2014
1:18 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Governor's Race Has A Third Contender; Judge Keeps Libertarians On Ballot

The Libertarian slate faced several obstacles to make it on the ballot; here, candidates hold a press conference to show how many more signatures they had to turn in to the state elections board, compared with Democrats and Republicans. The party's candidate for governor, Chad Grimm, is just to the left of the podium.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Democrats succeeded in getting a slate of Green Party candidates wiped from the November ballot. But the Libertarian Party had enough signatures to withstand a Republican challenge before the State Board of Elections. And now the Libertarians have withstood a court challenge as well.

Sometimes you can actually hear the smile in someone's voice. I didn't actually see Chad Grimm's face upon hearing the news that he'll remain on the ballot as the Libertarian nominee for governor. But, he sure sounded happy.

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Statehouse
6:17 am
Thu September 18, 2014

Court Ruling Could Impact Governor's Race

Credit Courtesy of lpillinois.org

A Sangamon County judge is expected to rule today (Thursday 9/18)
on an appeal by Republican attorneys to remove a Libertarian candidate for
Illinois governor from the November ballot.
 
Sangamon County Circuit Judge Patrick Kelley heard arguments in which the GOP
attorneys questioned the validity of signatures Libertarian candidates gathered
to get on the ballot.
Political analysts say Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Chad Grimm could
draw votes that otherwise would go to Republican candidate Bruce Rauner

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Website Debuts (In Time For The Election)
11:53 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Cullerton: I LIKE Illinois!

The new logo for Senate Democrats' "I Like Illinois" website and project.

Did you know that Betty White was born in Illinois? This, and other tidbits about Illinois' successes, are the subject of a new website. It's intended to counteract some of the negativity that has swirled this election cycle ... and to defend lawmakers' policies. 

No, it's not a project born by the state's tourism department. 

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Statehouse
4:31 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Fracking Rules Action Delayed; Could Be A Sign Of Revision

Activists opposed to fracking in Illinois gather at the state capitol rotunda, prior to passage of the 2013 law.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

It will be at least another month before legislators take up regulations of hydraulic fracturing. The Joint Commission on Administrative Rules, or JCAR -- a bipartisan panel -- voted Tuesday to spend more time reviewing, and potentially rewriting, them.

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Legislature Approved A $100 Million Tax On Business & Didn't Know It

Credit flickr/jmorgan

The legislature easily approved a measure in the spring that will raise taxes on some of the largest Illinois businesses.  Apparently they didn't know what they were passing.  Bill Wheelhouse spoke with Paul Merrion of Crain's Chicago Business.

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