Statehouse

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With the primary Tuesday, by now you've likely been inundated with campaign brochures and television commercials, at least for the big races. As much as we at public radio do our best to keep you informed, you may still feel like you don't have enough information on some of the races further down ballot.

That's where University of Chicago graduate student Aviva Rosman's company, BallotReady, comes in. It does research, to help make it easier when you get to the ballot box.

Amanda Vinicky

Presidential candidates are making final swings through Illinois ahead of Tuesday's primary. Amanda Vinicky has a roundup of the weekend campaigning, and a preview of what's still to come.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner spent his Sunday trying to give a boost to a central Illinois Republican candidate for state senate. The race is seen as a key test of Rauner's own agenda, and power within his party.

Gov. Rauner stopped by a table of folks waiting for pancakes at Charlie Parker's diner in Springfield.

He gestured to the man by his side -- Bryce Benton. He's a state trooper, and homeland security officer, Rauner told them. Vote for him on Tuesday.

"I need him in the legislature to help me battle Madigan. So. Bryce Benton for State Senate," Rauner said.

A Republican state legislative race in west-central Illinois has become a test of Governor Bruce Rauner's reach.

Back in August, the Illinois Senate took a vote on legislation Gov. Rauner called the worst he'd ever seen. The union-backed bill would allow state labor contract disputes to go to arbitration. Sen. Sam McCann was the only Republican to vote in favor of it.

He says that's the reason he's facing a primary. And not just any primary -- political action committees with ties to Rauner have spent some $2.5 million dollars against McCann.

Illinois lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow the governor to make unilateral budget cuts. But it could also impact the state's access to health care. 

With the election arriving next Tuesday, a handful of candidates and their "dark money" supporters were spending millions of dollars on just a handful of campaigns. Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner once again went on the attack against Democrats, and university presidents began making a more forceful case for state funding.

EIU.EDU

Higher education in Illinois has been caught in a continuing battle over the budget. 

Sarah Mueller WUIS

Illinois lawmakers are working on a budget for next year, but the state has gone nine months without a budget for this year. Governor Bruce Rauner's office made its case Wednesday before members of the Senate.

Jason Gonzales campaign website

House Speaker Michael Madigan has won the Democratic primary, and subsequent general election, nearly two dozen times -- usually sailing to victory without serious opposition. But this year there are powerful forces trying to topple him. He's facing a well-funded challenge in the March 15 primary.

Tammy Duckworth
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Illinois candidates for office will face a primary election next week. Some candidates are accusing their opponents of ducking debates.

Amanda Vinicky

Nine months into a stalemate that's left Illinois without a budget, Gov. Bruce Rauner Tuesday let loose on House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Amanda Vinicky

If you vote in Illinois March 15, most of the names you'll see at the top of the ticket are well-known. Others, less so.

Hillary Clinton is not the only candidate with Illinois ties running for President; Illinois Democrats next week can also cast a vote for Willie Wilson.

In Chicago, the name "Willie Wilson" may ring a bell; he finished a distant third in the city's race for mayor last year.

Now, he's aiming for the White House.

Barack Obama
Pool photo by Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

A candidate for the Illinois House has gotten help from an unlikely, high-level political figure.

With the race for the White House and control of the U.S. Senate on the line (not to mention leading the free world) President Barack Obama surely has plenty on his mind this election cycle. Evidently, that includes a contentious, and expensive, primary race for the Illinois House.

He's voiced an ad, asking voters to support Juliana Stratton.

Statehouse exit sign
Brian Mackey/WUIS

It’s been 10 months since the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s last attempt at a pension overhaul. Legislators have yet to decide what to do about Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension debt, but they are beginning to weigh their options.

Amanda Vinicky

A week from Tuesday, Illinois voters will have their chance to help determine who is the next President of the United States. Candidates are planning last minute campaign stops here.

Amanda Vinicky

It's less than two weeks before the March primary election. Illinois lawmakers in the House wanted to show voters they are working to resolve the state's financial issues. However, the House recessed Thursday until early next month.

It’s been 247 days since the state of Illinois had a budget. In that time, the nation of Iran struck a deal with America to limit its nuclear program and the United States reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba. But in Springfield there is still no peace.

Illinois Lottery

Even as Illinois scrounges for money it appears as if the state will let revenue slip away, albeit only a tiny slice of revenue. Legislators' delay also means that by the end of this month, Lottery fans won't be able to buy tickets online.

Years ago, Illinois authorized online Lottery sales --- but only on a temporary basis. That authority expires March 25.

Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Republican from Lake County,  introduced legislation to make the program permanent, "because it's a process that has done well, and it's done well for bringing money into our schools."

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

  A majority of Illinois voters do not believe that Illinois is headed in the right direction. That's according to a new poll, from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

One thousand voters were asked if they believe Illinois is on the "right track." Eighty-four percent of them answered "no." It comes as Illinois is in the midst of a historic budget impasse.

The state of Illinois hasn't funded higher education or many social services, as a budget impasse continues. House lawmakers passed legislation Thursday to partially restore that money. But the political wrangling isn't done yet.

Even as Illinois scrounges for money, it appears as if the state will let a small slice of revenue slip away.

The latest effort to fund Illinois' financially-starving universities and colleges may be dead on arrival. Republicans are giving early indications they're not buying a last-minute offer unveiled just Wednesday night and slated for debate Thursday.

Republicans have rebuffed Democrats' other attempts at funding higher education because they say it would add to the state's deficit, including a measure lawmakers spent much of Wednesday debating.

flickr/ Zoe Hoornaert

A couple of legislative primary races are serving as stand-ins for the political struggle between the governor and Democratic leaders. 

The governor's budget address had few specifics about his priorities, or his plans to balance the state's spending with its revenue. 

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Even as Governor Bruce Rauner announced his first steps toward criminal justice reform Wednesday, a police group says the lack of a state budget is making Illinois a more dangerous place to live.

Rauner touted proposals that would begin to inch toward his goal of reducing Illinois’ prison population by 25 percent over the next decade.

“Today is an important, very positive step forward," Rauner said, flanked by a bipartisan group of legislators.

Illinois government has been collecting a lot less money since an income tax rollback took effect at the beginning of last year. On Tuesday, officials warned that problems in the broader economy could make things even worse.

State lawmakers Tuesday voted to reopen a prison work camp in deep southern Illinois, but the governor's office says the attempt is politically-motivated.

University of Illinois Public Affairs

The vitriol and finger-pointing over the gridlock in state government has amplified. University leaders are trying to keep their distance, even as they fight for funding.

Illinois groups that help homeless youths recently asked Gov. Bruce Rauner to support legislation releasing money state money to them. They had hoped he would supporting funding they say they need to continue operating, but they said Rauner turned them down.

Supreme Court Won't Hear Springfield Panhandling Case

Feb 29, 2016
WUIS

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday declined to hear an appeal from Springfield over its anti-panhandling law. That means the capital city is barred from enforcing the ordinance because of an injunction.

Springfield's ordinance allows panhandlers in its downtown area to hold signs, but prohibits them from verbally asking for an immediate donation.

Two Springfield residents, who regularly panhandle, filed a lawsuit in 2013 saying the law violates their rights. Attorney Mark Weinberg represents the residents.

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