Statehouse

Statehouse
7:17 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Treasurer's Office Monitoring Risk Of U.S. Debt Default

Dan Rutherford
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

State Treasurer Dan Rutherford says he's monitoring the debt ceiling showdown in Washington and the impact that it could have on the state's finances.

Congress is still searching for deal that would raise the country's cap to borrow more money in order to pay its bills.  The government has been partially shut down for weeks as Democrats and Republicans haggle over spending.

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Pension Overhaul
5:07 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Quinn Responds To Pension Absence, Begins Reach Out

Gov. Pat Quinn speaks to leading Democrats in September as he seeks the state party's endorsement in his campaign for re-election; critics say the governor has been concerned about politics, rather than policy, when it comes to pensions -- for example by stripping legislators of their salaries as punishment for not passing a bill, even as he was absent from negotiations.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Governor Pat Quinn went months without meeting with members of the special legislative committee formed to draft a new pension plan, but this month he has begun to reach out.

It was Quinn's idea to form a conference committee, to bridge differences between the House and Senate over how to reduce Illinois' $100 billion pension debt.

But the ten members of that panel say other than phone calls welcoming them to the committee, he was absent from their talks from June on, leading to criticisms like this, from Rep. Jil Tracy, a Republican from Quincy.

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Statehouse
1:30 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Cullerton Says Pension Issue Could Bypass Committee

Sen. John Cullerton
Credit Illinois Senate

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says the state's pension problem could be addressed in the fall legislative session even if a committee working on it remains split.  
The Chicago Democrat tells The Associated Press in an interview that lawmakers could bypass the committee and call a vote through another legislative route.  
An AP survey found that five of the pension committee's 10 members still had concerns with a proposed $138 billion savings plan. The Legislature cannot consider a committee proposal unless it is signed by six members.  

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Pension Overhaul - Updated
7:23 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Gov. Quinn "AWOL" From Pension Committee's Talks

The ten members of the bipartisan, bicameral conference committee formed to come up with a pension package gather in Chicago in July, for one of the panel's few public meetings. Gov. Pat Quinn did not attend.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

As he runs for re-election, Gov. Pat Quinn is staking a lot on getting something done with pensions. He making a show of asking the state Supreme Court let him cancel legislators' salaries until it's done, and he says he won't deal with other major issues before the General Assembly -- like using tax credits to keep ADM headquartered in Illinois -- until there's what he calls a "comprehensive pension solution." But it's hard to tell just what that means. Most of the ten legislators he tasked with crafting that solution don't even seem to know. They say he's been largely absent ...

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Pensions
3:33 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Pension Committee Divided On A Fix

Credit wuis

The Illinois Legislature's fall veto session is just a week away, but a committee tasked with the solving the state's enormous pension problem is divided.  
An Associated Press survey of the 10-member committee found five Democrats support a plan that would save the state $138 billion over 30 years. The other half consists of four Republicans and one Democrat. They say they have major concerns about the proposal.  
The Legislature cannot consider the proposal unless it's signed by six committee members.  

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Statehouse
11:50 am
Mon October 14, 2013

LINK Card Outage Resolved

Credit dhs

Shoppers in Illinois and 16 other states should be able to use their debit-style food stamp cards after vendor Xerox Corp. restored service following a system outage.  
Januari Smith is spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Human Services. She says people in Illinois began reporting problems using their LINK cards Saturday morning.  

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Statehouse
11:44 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Member Of State Panel Resigns After Hosting Political Fundraiser

Sen. Martin Sandoval

A member of a board that helps choose engineers to
design Illinois roads has resigned after he co-hosted a political fundraiser for the chairman of the state Senate's Transportation Committee. 

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Statehouse
5:55 am
Mon October 14, 2013

Mandatory Prison For Gun Crimes? NRA Says No

Credit Steve Lipofsky/Basketballphoto.com via Wikimedia Commons

Next week, Illinois lawmakers could consider mandatory prison sentences for people charged with illegal gun possession. Supporters say it would help reduce violent crime in places like Chicago and East St. Louis. But a prominent gun-rights group is opposed to the change.

In places where shootings are a big problem, some politicians and prosecutors want a three-year minimum sentence for gun crimes.

But the National Rifle Association worries lawful gun owners could be caught up under the proposal.

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Pension Overhaul
5:24 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Pension Committee Considering Adding 401(k) Option

Rep. Mike Zalewski, a Democrat from Riverside, sits on the pension conference committee. "There's some concern over ... frankly whether pension systems should get in the business of the market... and philosophically do we really want to go down this road when there's members of these systems that believe all we need to do is make our payment, rightfully so," he says of defined contribution plans.
Credit Zalewski

With an eye toward reaching an agreement in time for the upcoming veto session, legislators on a special pension committee met Friday in Chicago. The conversations focused on giving state employees and teachers a new style of retirement plan.

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Statehouse
2:35 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Quinn Acts On Clemency Requests

Gov. Pat Quinn

Gov. Pat Quinn is granting 65 clemency petitions and
denying 124 while working through a backlog of pardon requests.
 
The Democrat announced Friday he had acted on 189 requests on dockets dating to
2004. His predecessor, the impeached and now-imprisoned Rod Blagojevich,
notoriously let clemency petitions pile up.
 
Among those granted pardons Friday _ typically with a criminal record being
wiped clean _ were an armed robber; several convicted of battery, including
domestic battery; several convicted of unlawful use of weapon; illicit

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Statehouse
1:47 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Listen To State Week - October 11, 2013

This week's topics include gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner's choice for his Lt. Governor running mate, the state deal with Amtrak to keep shorter-run rail lines running, and new license requirements for all-terrain-vehicles.

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Statehouse
11:12 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Durkin Picks Members of House GOP Leadership Team

Credit ilga.gov

The new Republican leader in the Illinois House of Representatives has named his leadership team.

Western Springs Rep. Jim Durkin is keeping most of the assistants who reported to Oswego Rep. Tom Cross, who left the top position in the chamber to run for Illinois treasurer.

Peoria Rep. David Leitch and Westmont Rep. Patti Bellock will be the chamber's deputy GOP leaders.

Leitch, who is the longest-serving Republican in the chamber, held the same position under Cross.

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Statehouse
8:51 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Interview: State Senator Andy Manar

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill)

State Senator Andy Manar (D - Bunker Hill) is in his first term serving the 48th District.  It stretches from Springfield and Decatur south into Madison County.

Before he was elected, Manar spent time as Chief of Staff to Senate President John Cullerton and served as Chairman of the Macoupin County Board.

Manar sat down with WUIS' Sean Crawford to talk about some of the issues facing state government, including public pensions, tax incentives for ADM, education funding and how he was considered as a possible running mate to former gubernatorial candidate Bill Daley:

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Federal Shutdown
1:17 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Most Laid Off State Workers Back Despite Shutdown

Credit Wikimedia commons

Gov. Pat Quinn's budget office says most state workers whose salaries are paid by federal money are back on the job, but more layoffs could come if the federal shutdown continues.
 
Roughly 100 workers were issued temporary layoffs last week, including employees with the Department of Military Affairs, the Illinois Department of
Employment Security and Labor Department.
 
Quinn's budget office says temporary layoffs for more than 70 employees expired Wednesday. The U.S. House has approved back pay for some workers.
 

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Election 2014
8:48 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Rauner Picks Running Mate

Evelyn Sanguinetti
Credit City of Wheaton website

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner has selected Wheaton City Council member Evelyn Sanguinetti as his running mate.  
The businessman announced his choice Tuesday morning in a statement.  
Sanguinetti is a lawyer who was once an assistant attorney general in Illinois. She's the daughter of immigrants and was born in Florida.  
Rauner is the last 2014 Republican candidate in the race to name a lieutenant governor pick.  

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Statehouse
5:48 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Shutdown Could Impact More State Workers

Gov. Pat Quinn says if the federal government shutdown continues the state will have to lay off more workers whose paychecks come from federal funding. 

Illinois has already issued nearly 100 such temporary layoffs. They include employees with the state Department of Military Affairs, economic analysts at the Illinois Department of Employment Security and employees with the Labor Department who handle workplace safety inspections. 

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Election 2014
2:16 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Court Case Could Upend Illinois Campaign Caps

Credit flickr/borman18

The scandal that brought down former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich led to campaign-contribution caps in Illinois. Advocates of the limits are fearful a case set to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday could upend their efforts.

 The campaign finance law Illinois politicians passed in 2009 restricts how much cash companies, unions and people can give to individual candidates. Theoretically, you can give that maximum contribution to every state candidate in Illinois.

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State Week
2:50 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Listen To State Week - October 4, 2013

This week's topics include the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in Illinois, how the Federal Shutdown is affecting the state, and the debate over tax breaks for Archer Daniels Midland and other companies.

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Statehouse
1:34 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Quinn: Pensions Before Tax Breaks For ADM, OfficeMax

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

When lawmakers return to Springfield for their fall session later this month, they'll be weighing requests from several international companies that want tax breaks for keeping their headquarters in Illinois. But Gov. Pat Quinn is throwing cold water on that idea.

Most of the tax-credit attention has gone to agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Company, which wants up to $24 million keep its global head office in Illinois. But lawmakers have also heard requests from Zurich Insurance, based in Schaumburg, and OfficeMax, based in Naperville, and there are others.

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Statehouse
1:01 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Governor Weighs In On Pension Talks

Gov. Pat Quinn says there are ``a lot of good ideas'' in a pension reform proposal, but he's stopping short of a full endorsement of the deal.
 
The Chicago Democrat says the 10-member legislative panel working on a $138.9 billion savings plan needs to get details finished on the legislation so
lawmakers can schedule a vote.
 
Quinn's says he's seen a number of the plan details and has been ``working back and forth'' with committee members.
 
Quinn's Friday remarks follow Senate President John Cullerton's public
endorsement of the plan.
 

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Statehouse
8:32 am
Fri October 4, 2013

Quinn: Wrong Time For Tax Breaks

Gov. Pat Quinn says he will veto any legislation with special tax breaks to get Archer Daniels Midland Company to keep its global headquarters in Illinois until lawmakers address the state's pension crisis.  
In an interview with The Associated Press, Quinn says it's ``the wrong time'' to talk about tax incentives for any company.  
The Chicago Democrat says the best thing the Legislature can do to help ADM or other businesses is address Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension shortfall. He wants lawmakers to act when they meet later this month.  

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Drilling Rules In Draft Stage
5:38 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

DNR Opens Fracking Registration

A coalition lobbying for a fracking moratorium protested Illinois' pending legislation during the 2013 General Assembly session.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Illinois is a ways off from allowing oil and gas drillers to begin "fracking" but companies that are interested can begin the paperwork.

Environmentalists lost their fight to ban high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Lawmakers instead decided to open Illinois to a practice that's been an economic boon in other states.

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Statehouse
5:12 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Decatur Job Loss Part Of Negotiations On ADM Incentives

Senate President John Cullerton says any tax-incentive package to get Archer Daniels Midland Company to keep its headquarters in Illinois should include something to make up for the loss of jobs in Decatur.
 
ADM announced last week it was moving its global headquarters _ and 100 jobs _
out of Decatur. The company is asking the state for $20 million in tax breaks to
keep its headquarters in Illinois. Chicago officials have said the city is in
the running.
 
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports (http://bit.ly/156Z8gp )

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Pensions
9:37 am
Thu October 3, 2013

Cullerton Backs Possible Pension Compromise

Sen. John Cullerton
Credit ilga.gov

The president of the Illinois Senate says he's backing a compromise pension reform plan that could save $138 billion by 2043.  
Chicago Democrat John Cullerton tells The (Springfield) State Journal-Register (http://bit.ly/1btBYG2 ) that he's working to build support for the still-unfinished proposal being developed by a pension reform committee. Cullerton hopes lawmakers can begin to act on the plan during the upcoming Oct. 22 veto session.  

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Statehouse
6:07 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

State Failed To Keep Tabs On Decatur Murder Suspect

Credit flickr/katerha

Lawmakers say an early prison release law doesn't need changing despite a mistake in which a parolee now charged with murder was not properly monitored.
 
Joshua A. Jones was set free in May five months early. He was charged with a Decatur murder three months later.
Documents and Associated Press interviews show Jones was supposed to be electronically monitored but was not. State prison officials say an employee
faces discipline.

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Statehouse
5:26 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Health Alliance Not Selected For State Retiree Coverage

The state of Illinois has removed Health Alliance from its list of retiree health contracts, as of January 2014. 

Other carriers include Medicare Advantage plans with Aetna Life, Humana Health, Humana Benefit or United Healthcare.  The change could, in some cases, force patients to change doctors.  

Health Alliance Spokeswoman Jane Hayes says the insurer submitted a competitive bid, and can’t explain why it wasn’t included.

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Statehouse
5:16 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Quinn Asking Supreme Court To Back Him In Lawmaker Pay Dispute

Gov. Pat Quinn has asked the Illinois Supreme Court to hear his appeal of a ruling that his veto of money for lawmaker salaries was unconstitutional.  
Attorneys for Quinn filed a motion with the court Wednesday. They say the case deserves an ``expeditious and conclusive'' ruling by the state's highest court.  
Quinn vetoed money for paychecks in July because he was angry legislators hadn't addressed Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.  
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton sued, saying his action was unconstitutional.  

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Pensions And Pay
4:08 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Comptroller: All Legislative Paychecks Processed

  After going without pay for three months, Illinois legislators' paychecks are in the bank.

Serving as a state senator or representative is technically a part-time job -- and for some, it is. For others, it is a full-time gig and sole source of income.

Which made it tough when Gov. Pat Quinn canceled General Assembly members' pay over the summer because they failed to pass legislation to cut pension costs.

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ADM Leaving Decatur
5:32 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Senator: Decatur Unemployment Must Be Considered In ADM Tax Breaks

Credit ADM

As Archer Daniels Midland plans to move its headquarters out of Decatur, state lawmakers are considering whether to award tax breaks to keep the agribusiness giant in Illinois.

At a legislative hearing in Chicago, representatives of ADM told lawmakers they wanted incentives worth $1.2 million a year for up to 20 years. In return, the company would keep its headquarters in Illinois, likely in Chicago.

One lawmakers says it's "essentially blackmailing the state."

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Statehouse
1:43 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

Durkin Doubtful Pension Changes Will Happen This Fall

Rep. Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs)
Credit ilga.gov

The newest leader in state government says he doubts pension reform will become reality during the upcoming fall veto session. Republican House Minority Leader Jim Durkin says it's not right to vote for something that's close to ideal just because there is fatigue surrounding the issue.

"The issue needs to be done, but we need to do it right," Durkin said. "But I am not going to just wave the white flag out of expediency because people have been worn down or they're tired of the issue and want to get it off their plates."

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