Statehouse

Statehouse
5:52 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Sweeping Pension Changes Approved

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois General Assembly has approved sweeping changes to pensions for state employees. Governor Pat Quinn says he will sign the legislation. It's intended to fix the worst-funded state retirement system in the country.

Illinois is roughly $100 billion short of the money it promised to pay state employees, university workers, and public school teachers.

After years of debate, lawmakers finally agreed on a solution to the problem: cutting benefits, mainly by reducing the three-percent annual increase retirees have gotten on their pensions.

Read more
Statehouse
5:00 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Recap Of Pension Vote With Brian Mackey

WUIS' Sean Crawford talks with Statehouse reporter Brian Mackey moments after state lawmakers voted to approve pension legislation. 

Read more
Statehouse
12:32 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

'Suspicious' Powder Mailed To State Office

Credit wikimedia

Officials say Gov. Pat Quinn's constituent office in Springfield was evacuated after an envelope with a "suspicious substance" was found.  Testing, however, revealed the substance was baby powder.

The Governor's Office of Constituent Affairs is located near the state Capitol where lawmakers and others were gathered ahead of an expected pension vote.  

Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson says the envelope was received Tuesday, the office was evacuated and necessary precautions were taken.  

Read more
Statehouse
10:34 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Madigan: Pension Plans Are "Too Rich"

Illinois' House Speaker told a bipartisan legislative committee that the state's pension systems are ``just too rich'' to be afforded in the future.  
Madigan is a Chicago Democrat and the state's longest-serving House Speaker. He says Tuesday that a $160 billion reform proposal was designed to keep long-term low-income workers in mind.

Read more
Statehouse
9:43 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Unions Make Last Pitch To Derail Pension Measure

Union members rallied at the statehouse in January 2013.
Credit npr.org

Illinois unions are working to squelch a plan aimed at
solving the state's $100 billion pension problem hours before an expected vote.
 
Members of the ``We Are One Coalition'' representing major state unions told a
bipartisan legislative panel Tuesday morning that the $160 billion savings plan
is unfair to retirees.
 
Dan Montgomery of the Illinois Federation of Teachers says there is ``no
victory in a public policy that will not work.'' He says adjustments to cost of

Read more
Pensions
7:10 am
Tue December 3, 2013

How Today's Pension Vote Will Go, Procedure-Wise

The pension conference committee meets in Chicago over the summer.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

This morning, legislators on a special, bipartisan panel formed to reach a compromise on Illinois' pension situation will once again meet in Springfield. Already, most of the committee's members have signed off on a deal.  Beyond that, the measure's fate is uncertain.

Read more
Pensions
6:21 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Strange Bedfellows Could Kill Leaders' Pension Deal

A Christmas tree and other holiday decorations bring a festive spirit to the capitol on Monday -- today the statehouse will be bustling during last-minute negotiations ahead of a landmark pension vote.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois legislators will be asked today (12/3) to take what many say could be the most important vote of their careers. They've been called back to Springfield to take up a measure that would drastically alter the state's retirement plans. Doing so would have obvious ramifications for state employees, teachers and university workers whose pensions are at stake. But the impact of a vote is far more widespread. What happens could also affect everything from the state's credit rating and Illinois' next budget, to the 2014 elections. The outcome is anything but certain.

Read more
Statehouse
6:00 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Satellite TV Tax Could Help ADM, Office Depot

Credit ADM

Although pensions are atop the agenda Tuesday in Springfield, the Illinois General Assembly could consider a set of tax breaks for some of Illinois' biggest corporations.

Decatur-based Archer Daniels Midland is moving its corporate headquarters, and wants a tax break to remain in Illinois, most likely Chicago. Office Depot, newly merged with OfficeMax, is deciding whether to put its combined headquarters in Florida or Naperville.

The deal would let the companies keep money they deduct from employee paychecks for Illinois taxes.

Read more
Pensions
2:58 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Republican Hopefuls Split On Pension Overhaul

Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, says the Senate should gather all of its members, and spend a couple of days hearing from experts, as well as from state workers whose pensions would be affected by pension changes.
Credit dillard.senategop.org

The four Republicans running for Illinois governor are taking diverging stances on the pension measure that's bringing the General Assembly back to Springfield tomorrow. The package drafted by the legislative leaders would cut state workers', teachers' and university employees' retirement benefits.

Whether there's enough support for the leaders' plan to pass is uncertain, but it will get Sen. Bill Brady's vote.

Read more
Statehouse
4:42 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Pension Plan Advances To House And Senate

A bipartisan committee of lawmakers has approved a plan to deal with Illinois' $100 billion pension problem. The measure now moves to the House and Senate for consideration.  

The Associated Press confirmed with six members of the 10-member panel that they had signed the measure Monday after arriving in Springfield for a special session.  
Leaders announced the plan last week. It comes nearly five months after a special committee was formed to tackle the problem.  

Read more
Statehouse
1:14 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Senator Kirk Opposes State Pension Plan

Sen. Mark Kirk

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk says a pension-reform deal under consideration in Springfield ``falls short of finding the savings needed to solve Illinois' fiscal crisis.''  

The Republican senator issued his statement Monday morning. The deal that legislative leaders announced last week could go to a vote in the Illinois General Assembly as early as Tuesday. Kirk says state lawmakers shouldn't pass a bill that he says lawmakers and voters haven't had time to read.  

Kirk says the proposal ``relies heavily on accounting gimmicks'' and doesn't prevent a permanent income tax hike.  

Read more
Statehouse
5:57 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

Listen To State Week - November 29, 2013

This week, the candidate filing deadline for the gubernatorial primaries, and legislative leaders' plan to solve the state's pension crisis.

Read more
Pensions
4:10 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

How Leaders Want To Overhaul Illinois Pensions

Details are out on what the leaders of Illinois' General Assembly want to do to the state's retirement systems. They've released an outline of their deal.

After years of debate about what to do about the $100 billion dollars of unfunded liability Illinois has racked up for its pension systems, legislative leaders announced on Wednesday they had agreed to a deal. But they were tight-lipped about what all it involved.

That information has now been spelled out in a one-page overview, a memo passed out to members of the House and Senate.

Read more
Statehouse
2:22 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

Pension Legislation Details Released

Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Earlier this week, legislative leaders announced a deal to bring a pension overhaul before the full chambers. It is estimated to save $160 billion over the next 30 years.  Illinois has the nation's most underfunded retirement systems.

On Friday, the leaders' staff sent around the memo below that highlights changes for public employee pensions.  Lawmakers are expected in Springfield to vote on legislation Tuesday, December 3.  Employee unions have already indicated opposition and if it passes, a legal challenge is likely.

PENSION REFORM PROPOSAL

Read more
Pension Overhaul
4:49 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Leaders Reach Pension Deal; Now Drumming Up Votes

House Speaker Michael Madigan talked to reporters about pensions during the end of the spring legislative session; he and Senate President John Cullerton were at odds then over how to deal with the state's underfunded retirement systems.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  The leaders of Illinois' General Assembly have reached a deal on pensions. But now they have to persuade legislators to go along with it. The House and Senate will meet in Springfield Tuesday (12/3) to debate the measure.

It's the first time the four leaders of the House and Senate have come together on a plan dealing with the state's pensions, which are the worst-funded in the nation. Details are forthcoming, but House Speaker Michael Madigan came out of a meeting in Chicago saying it will save $160 billion.

Read more
Statehouse
3:40 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

First Same Sex Marriage Has Occurred In Illinois

Credit Cook County Clerk's Office

Two Chicago women have become the first couple to take their vows under the new same-sex marriage law in Illinois.  
Patricia Ewert and Vernita Gray married in a private ceremony Wednesday, just days after a judge agreed to expedite their wedding because of Gray's terminal illness.  

Read more
Statehouse
1:03 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Pension Deal Reached; Vote Likely Next Week

Credit Wikimedia Commons

House Speaker Michael Madigan says the vote on a pension deal will be ``very difficult'' when lawmakers gather for a special session next week.  
Madigan spoke to reporters Wednesday after legislative leaders said they agreed on a proposal that will help solve Illinois' $100 billion pension crisis.  

Read more
Election 2014
5:15 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Poll: It's Anyone's Governor's Race

Seven candidates filed for governor earlier this week: four Republicans (Treasurer Dan Rutherford, whose lieutenant governor pick, Steve Kim, is pictured on the far left; Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-HInsdale, who is on the top right; Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, on the bottom right; and Bruce Rauner) and two Democrats, Gov. Pat Quinn and Tio Hardiman, of Chicago.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Pat Quinn has been surpassed as the nation's least-liked governor, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling. Pennsylvania's Pennsylvania's Republican Gov., Tom Corbett, can now claim that title. But the new poll shows Quinn could still have a hard time holding on to his seat.

It was about this time last year, that numbers from Public Policy Polling showed Democrat Pat Quinn as the most unpopular governor in the country.

Read more
Election 2014
6:15 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Rauner Gives Another $500,000 To Election Bid

Credit brucerauner.com

A Republican candidate for Illinois governor has contributed another $500,000 to his campaign.  
Winnetka venture capitalist Bruce Rauner has now pumped $1.25 million of his own money into the four-way GOP primary for the right to take on Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in 2014.

Rauner filed petition signatures for a ballot position yesterday and also released three years of tax returns. They show he reported more than $53 million in income last year.  
He also disclosed ownership stakes in three professional sports franchises, including the Chicago Bulls.  

Read more
Statehouse
3:48 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Quinn: Next Week Could End Pension Gridlock

Gov. Pat Quinn says next week is another opportunity to tackle the state's $100 billion pension crisis.  
Legislative leaders have been negotiating on a plan, which could come up next week if there's a special session in Springfield. House Speaker Michael Madigan has told representatives to be ready for a one-day session next Tuesday. The Senate has tentatively set some days aside next week.  

However, details about the plan haven't been released publicly and legislative leaders say they're still hammering out issues.  

Read more
Election 2014
4:40 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Rauner Made $53 Million In 2012

Bruce Rauner's 2012 tax returns show he made more than $53 million in 2012, most of it from interest and capital gains.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

One of the Republicans running for governor had a very good year in 2012. Bruce Rauner released his tax returns Monday, and says he made more than $53 million.

When people say, don't work for your money, make money work for you, this is what they're talking about.

Rauner's 2012 tax returns show he and his wife made almost all of their money on interest, capital gains, and real estate.

The line on his tax form for W-2s, where most people report "wages, salaries, (and) tips," shows zero dollars.

Read more
Election 2014
2:13 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Six Candidates File To Run For Governor

Some candidates sent surrogates to file their petitions; others went themselves, including lieutenant governor candidate Steve Kim ( who is GOP Tres. Dan Rutherford's running mate) and Republican gubernatorial candidates Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale and Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

  Candidates looking to run in the March primary began filing their paperwork today (11/25) with the State Board of Elections. Anyone who was in line by 8 a.m. gets a chance at the top spot on the ballot. Six men who want to be Illinois' next governor made that deadline.

Campaigns waited in a long line, despite a forecast of snow, so that they could get their petitions in. Some candidates send staffers as surrogates, including Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn and one of his four Republican challengers, Bruce Rauner.

Read more
IDNR
3:10 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Conservation Officer Shoots Driver At Traffic Stop

Credit flickr/inventorchris

UPDATE: Authorities say a 30-year-old Ohio man was shot and killed after he allegedly pinned an Illinois State Police trooper with his vehicle during a traffic stop.  

He was identified as Shane David Cataline of Toledo, Ohio. Illinois State Police said an autopsy was conducted Saturday. The results were not immediately available.  

Read more
State Week
2:10 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Listen To State Week - November 22, 2013

This week, same-sex marriage legislation signed into law, the prospects for resolving the state pension crisis in a December special session, and gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's success in raising campaign funds.

Read more
Statehouse
5:27 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Candidate Rakes In Second $250k Contribution ... This Week

Republican candidate Bruce Rauner took his turn at the podium during the party's State Fair rally this summer.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner continues to rake in major contributions since he lifted Illinois' new campaign finance cap last week. While Rauner's opponents are freed from caps as well, he's the been the only one to get such major, and immediate, benefit.

State filings from yesterday (11/21) afternoon show Illinois' richest man, Ken Griffin, pitching in $250,000 to Rauner's campaign.

It's the second time this week Rauner received a donation worth a quarter of a million dollars.

Read more
Pensions
12:03 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Unions Plan "Emergency" Lobby Days Over Pensions

Credit commons.wikimedia

Illinois unions are planning an intensive lobbying push in opposition to a developing plan to deal with the state's $100 billion pension crisis.  

The ``We are One Coalition'' represents the state's major employee unions. The group sent an email to members about ``emergency call-in days'' next week and Dec. 2-3.  

Members are being asked to call and visit lawmakers' offices and urge them to vote against pension bills that don't have union support. Legislative leaders are meeting Thursday to firm up a plan that could save close to $150 million over 30 years.  

Read more
Vade, Satana
2:17 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Bishop Holds 'Minor Exorcism' Over Same-Sex Marriage

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield speaks with reporters after his prayers of "exorcism" over same-sex marriage.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Minutes after Gov. Pat Quinn made gay marriage legal in Illinois, the Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield began a prayer service in response. Tuesday's service was formally called a prayer of “exorcism.” But the ceremony was more subdued than that dramatic word might suggest.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki was methodical, even dispassionate, as he led at least 200 of the faithful in prayer.

Read more
Statehouse
5:15 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Reaction To Same Sex Marriage Bill Signing

Sponsor Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago)
Credit wuis

Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday signed same sex marriage into law in Illinois. Here are quotes and reaction to the bill signing.  
     ___  
 ``It means we are able to say that we're a family and be recognized because we are like everyone else.'' _ Jen Dickie Rothke of Chicago, who has been with her partner for 13 years. They have a son together.  
     ___  
 ``We are witnessing one of the most significant demonstrations of justice in Illinois history.'' _ Illinois Senate President John Cullerton.  
     ___  

Read more
Statehouse
2:42 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Illinois Is 16th State To Allow Same-Sex Marriage

     

Illinois is now the 16th state to allow same-sex marriage. Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill into law Wednesday in Chicago that makes the state the largest in the Midwest to legalize gay weddings. The law takes effect in June when county clerks can begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Illinois allowed civil unions in 2011, but it was a bumpy road to same-sex marriage in President Barack Obama's home state.

Read more
Big Bank Settlement
8:25 am
Wed November 20, 2013

JPMorgan Chase To Pay Illinois Pension Funds $100 Million

Chase Tower in Chicago.
Credit John Picken (flickr.com/picken)

The bank JPMorgan Chase will pay Illinois' pension funds $100 million under a national settlement announced Tuesday. The payment is a result of the bank's misconduct leading up to the Great Recession.

Like a lot of investors in the last decade, Illinois' pension funds had a good chunk of change in mortgage-backed securities. Once the housing market collapsed and homeowners began defaulting, the value of those securities collapsed, too.

Read more

Pages