Statehouse

Statehouse
5:57 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Budget Plan Said To Lead To Layoffs, Payment Delays

Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, presents budget legislation Tuesday in the Illinois House of Representatives.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a spending plan for state government.

This is not an extension of Illinois' 5 percent income tax rate. It's also not the doomsday budget Gov. Pat Quinn and other Democrats warned would result without that permanently higher tax rate. Rather, it holds spending essentially flat across state government. But that doesn't mean Illinois' financial problems are solved.

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Statehouse
5:22 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

"Soda Tax" Defeated At Statehouse

Credit flickr/DCJohn

An Illinois House committee has rejected a proposed tax on sweetened drinks that supporters say would help fight obesity.  

The House Revenue and Finance Committee defeated the so-called ``soda tax'' Tuesday. It would have added a tax of 1 cent per ounce to any sweetened beverage.  

Rep. Robyn Gabel is an Evanston Democrat. The Chicago Sun-Times reports Gabel told legislators the tax would give people an incentive to choose a healthier drink. It also would generate an estimated $600 million in annual revenue.  

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Statehouse
2:03 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Illinois General Assembly Moving Forward With New Budget

Credit wikimedia commons

The Illinois Legislature is moving forward with a scaled-back budget lawmakers say will lead to layoffs and further delays in paying the state's bills.
 
The House is expected to vote Tuesday on the approximately $35 billion spending
plan.
Lawmakers drafted the plan after House Speaker Michael Madigan announced his
chamber had given up on extending a temporary income tax increase. That will
result in a roughly $1.8 billion revenue drop next year.
 
Democratic Sen. Dan Kotowski says the new budget plan ensures education

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Budget FY15
1:21 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Arrested Advocates: In-Home Health Services Essential For Independence

Mike Ervin, of Chicago, was arrested and forcibly removed from the Capitol Monday evening when he and other advocates wanted to stage an all-night sit in. Ervin says without an extension of the state's 5 percent income tax, in-home health care could be decimated.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  As the Illinois General Assembly considers a so-called "middle of the road" budget for next year, some programs could be cut or reduced to make up for the expiration of the 20-11 income-tax hike. Advocates for people with disabilities say a reduction could be catastrophic for that population.

One of the biggest parts of Illinois' budget is Medicaid, which not only provides health care to the poor, but also to those with disabilities. Those who can live independently usually elect to with the help of in-home health service.

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Statehouse
8:14 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Illinois House Democrats Regroup, Craft Budget Without Higher Tax

Credit WUIS

Illinois House Democrats have given up on extending a temporary income tax increase and have begun working on a scaled-back state spending plan.
 
Speaker Michael Madigan said Monday that House working groups would begin work
on a ``middle-of-the-road'' budget that's in line with a revenue estimate of about $34 billion.
 
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn wants to make permanent the income-tax increase that's set to roll back in January. It's costing the typical Illinois taxpayer about $1,100 more this year.
 

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Earned income tax credit
4:54 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Bipartisan Support For Earned Income Tax Credit, But Budget Stands In Way

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  With less than a week remaining in the Illinois General Assembly's spring session, advocates are still working to double the state's tax credit for the working poor.

Advocates say the Earned Income Tax Credit is more effective at lifting people out of poverty than welfare or raising the minimum wage.

More than 900,000 Illinois workers receive the state's version of the EITC, which is currently worth 10 percent of the federal version of the credit.

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Statehouse
12:00 pm
Mon May 26, 2014

Marijuana Cousin Winding Way Through General Assembly

Hemp rope
Credit Emilian Robert Vicol

Universities in Illinois may soon get the chance to research industrial hemp.  HB5085 is weaving it's way through the legislature.

The Illinois Farm Bureau has been pushing the idea.  But hemp was banned in the 1970’s and labeled a controlled substance, as it is related to marijuana.

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Statehouse
1:50 pm
Sat May 24, 2014

Lawmaker's Stepson Shot And Killed In Peoria

The stepson of a state lawmaker from Peoria has been shot dead.

The (Peoria) Journal Star reports (http://bit.ly/1t6ts30 ) that 22-year-old Derrick Booth Jr. was pronounced dead early Saturday at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.

He was the stepson of Democratic Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth and the son of Manual Academy basketball coach Derrick Booth Sr.

The newspaper reports that the victim was found on the porch of a home with a gunshot wound to the chest.

It was the second homicide in the city this year.

Statehouse
3:09 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Illinois Lawmakers Adjourn For The Weekend

Credit WUIS

The Illinois Legislature has adjourned until Monday.  
The Senate wrapped up early Friday afternoon, shortly after the House completed its work for the week.  
Legislators in both chambers are scheduled to return to the Capitol on Monday for the final week of the spring session.  

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Budget FY15
2:39 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

"Doomsday" Budget Fails In House

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  The Illinois House overwhelmingly rejected a so-called "doomsday budget" Friday — one that does not rely on extending 2011's income tax hike. It would have imposed deep cuts across Illinois government.

It was the budget that few legislators — Democrat or Republican — actually wanted to pass. It would have slashed education and other government services.

But the budget did not pass. In fact, only five lawmakers voted for the stripped-down budget, including Rep. Fred Crespo, from Hoffman Estates.

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State Week
1:47 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Listen To State Week - May 23, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

No agreement so far on a state budget, while debate continues on whether or not to make the temporary state income tax permanent.

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Education funding
8:43 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Republicans Push School Funding Legislation To Prevent Underfunding

Credit Wikimedia Commons

  While the state's budget for next year is still in flux, Republicans in the Illinois Senate say they have a new plan that would fully fund public schools. They say it's something that would help schools now, unlike a competing Democratic proposal that's still building support.

Illinois has been shortchanging schools for several years. Instead of funding them at the full amount required by law, they've been cutting — it's at 89 percent this year. That's because mandatory spending on things like health care and pensions has been choking out other priorities.

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Statehouse
3:25 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Speaker Wants 'Millionaire Tax' Referendum

House Speaker Michael Madigan wants voters to weigh in on his so-called "millionaires' tax" at the November elections.

The referendum would ask if income greater than a million dollars should be taxed an additional three percent, with the money going to schools.

Earlier this year, Madigan tried to put this before voters as a constitutional amendment, but he says there wasn't enough support in the House.

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Retirement savings
3:18 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

House Advances Retirement Savings Legislation

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  The Illinois House is advancing legislation intended to get more people saving for retirement. Advocates say "nudging" workers into a savings program could help keep them out of poverty in retirement.

The so-called Secure Choice retirement savings program is an idea of the conservative Heritage Foundation. The plan would require all companies with more than 25 employees to automatically enroll workers in a state-supervised retirement program.

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Statehouse
12:19 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Republican Leader: Latest Budget Moves 'Typical End-Of-Year Misdirection'

House Republican Leaders Jim Durkin says he thinks Democrats will round up enough votes to make the 5 percent income tax rate permanent.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  A day after House Democrats said they're unwilling to extend Illinois' higher income tax rate, government observers are trying to figure out what happens next. Top Democrats say they're moving forward on an austerity budget, but things in the Statehouse are rarely as clear as they seem.

House Speaker Michael Madigan took a closed-door poll of his Democratic lawmakers, and found just 34 of the 60 votes needed to make the current income tax rate permanent.

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Statehouse
1:46 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Budget Fight Moves From Taxes To Spending — For Now

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has called for permanently setting the state income tax rate at 5 percent.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Democrats in the Illinois House on Wednesday handed a significant defeat to Governor Pat Quinn. Fewer than half are willing to go along with his push to extend a higher income tax rate. That could mean significant cuts in state spending. Brian Mackey reports on how Democrats backed themselves into this corner, and where they go from here.

Quinn has for two months been asking lawmakers to make 2011’s temporary income tax hike permanent.

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Statehouse
4:49 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Governor's Tax Plan Fails Among House Democrats

House Speaker Michael Madigan is seen in this December 2013 file photo.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers are going back to the drawing board on a state spending plan. Although Gov. Pat Quinn and top Democrats have been pushing for an extension of a higher income tax rate, House Speaker Michael Madigan says there isn't enough support for that.

  With Republicans uniformly opposed to keeping Illinois income tax rate at 5 percent -- instead of letting it drop as scheduled at the end of the year — both Quinn and Madigan have been working to get 60 Democratic members of the House on board.

Then, on Wednesday afternoon, House Democrats met behind closed doors.

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Statehouse
3:22 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Medical Marijuana In Illinois Could Be Available By Beginning Of 2015

A panel from the Illinois Department of Public Health takes questions.
Credit WUIS/Lee Strubinger

Officials say dispensaries in Illinois could start providing medical marijuana early next year . Prospective patients say that's not soon enough.

At a public hearing in Springfield, those seeking marijuana for medical needs argued the rule making process needs to speed up.   Illinois lawmakers voted last year to allow cannabis for certain health conditions.  Since then, the state has been planning how the program will work.
Robert Morgan, an attorney with the Illinois Department of Public Health, says the agency wants to get it right.

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Attorney General's Race
2:24 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

GOP Attorney General Candidate: Lisa Madigan Too Loyal To Democrats

GOP candidate for Attorney General Paul Schimpf (right) flanked by Illinois GOP top brass House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs). Schimpf says current Attorney General Lisa Madigan has too much Democratic party loyalty to pursue corruption in the state.
Credit Tony Arnold/WBEZ

  The Repubican Party’s longshot candidate for Illinois attorney general is throwing punches at the incumbent Democrat, Lisa Madigan. Paul Schimpf says Madigan is a political insider incapable of going after corruption.

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Statehouse
10:52 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Judge Denies Lawmaker's Request To Delay Trial

Credit ilga.gov

A federal judge won't postpone an Illinois lawmaker's bribery
trial so he can finish out the legislative session in Springfield.

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Statehouse
4:49 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Rauner Wades Deeper Into Tax Debate, But Offers No Budget Plan

Bruce Rauner is robo-calling voters in seven House districts he says are key to the income tax debate.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner is wading deeper into the debate over whether Illinois ought to extend a higher income tax rate. He's still refusing to say how he would manage the state budget.

The Rauner campaign says it's making robo-calls to voters in seven House districts. These are key Democrats in the budget debate — most have previously taken positions against the higher tax rate.

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Illinois High School Association
4:15 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Lawmakers Call For Transparency From IHSA

  The organization that coordinates Illinois high school sports and activities was under scrutiny Tuesday in Springfield. Lawmakers want the Illinois High School Association to be more transparent, but the not-for-profit group is pushing back.

While Illinois high schools are not required to become IHSA members, the organization does run the major statewide competitions.

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Statehouse
2:23 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Republicans: Ask Voters About Income Tax

Credit wikimedia

The question of whether to extend Illinois' temporary income tax increase has dominated the spring legislative session. On Tuesday, Republicans said the question ought to be put to voters this fall.

Illinois voters will face a long list of referenda on the November ballot: on voting rights and crime victims rights, and possibly the minimum wage, term limits for lawmakers and legislative district map-making.

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Statehouse
11:27 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Quinn Pitches Tax Plan To House Democrats

Gov. Pat Quinn speaks with reporters Monday in the Capitol after meeting with House Democrats for more than two-and-a-half hours.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Gov. Pat Quinn appealed directly to Democrats in the Illinois House Monday evening. He’s struggling to win support for his plan to extend Illinois’ higher income tax rate.

The governor appeared at a closed meeting of the Illinois House Democratic caucus.

Quinn is trying to win the support of the 60 Democrats required to make Illinois’ 5 percent income-tax rate permanent — instead of letting it decline by more than a percentage point as scheduled at the end of the year. Quinn warns without the higher tax rate, there will have to be drastic cuts in state services.

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Statehouse
3:17 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Rauner Blasts House Democrats On Budget Process

Bruce Rauner
Credit WUIS

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is criticizing House Democrats for adopting budget measures without an approved plan to pay for them.  

Rauner talked to reporters in Northbrook Monday as Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn was set to meet with lawmakers in Springfield. The Chicago Sun-Times reports Rauner calls this year's budget process ``playing political games'' and ``showing a lack of leadership''  
 Last week, the House approved budget measures contingent on an income tax increase extension. It rolls back in January, creating a $1.8 billion hole.  

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Heroin use in Illinois
2:04 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Heroin Task Force To Target Drug's Use Through Legislation

Credit Wikimedia commons

  Heroin use has surged in Illinois, especially in the collar counties around Chicago. State officials are considering whether new laws are needed to stop the spread of heroin and treat addiction more effectively.

The state's heroin task force met in Springfield to hear testimony from experts on addiction.

Dr. Daniel Angres, a psychiatrist with suburban-based Presence Health, says heroin use has become more prolific because the stigma has faded.

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Statehouse
12:43 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Quinn To Meet With House Democrats On Budget, Taxes

Gov. Pat Quinn, seen in this 2013 file photo, will make his case for an extension of the income tax at a meeting of House Democrats Monday afternoon.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield Monday to begin the final two weeks of the spring legislative session. The big question remains whether Democratic leaders can convince enough rank-and-file lawmakers ... to make a higher income tax rate permanent.

Although Gov. Pat Quinn, Senate President John Cullerton, and House Speaker Michael Madigan all support making the temporary 5-percent income tax rate permanent — Madigan in particular has had a hard time getting fellow House Democrats to go along.

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Property tax rebates
7:58 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Civic Federation: Property Tax Rebates Inefficient

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Taxes have been in the spotlight at the state Capitol this spring, most visibly the fate of the state's income tax rates. But another tax plan, floated by Governor Pat Quinn, is also attracting ire of Republicans and economists alike.

Governor Quinn's plan for the Illinois budget calls for extending the state's 5-percent income tax rate, instead of allowing it roll back.

It's coupled with a $500 property tax rebate for every homeowner in Illinois.

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State Week
2:24 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Listen To State Week - May 16, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week the Illinois House passed a spending bill that surpasses projected state revenues, leading to more debate over allowing the temporary income tax to expire.  Also, judicial action has put the state's pension overhaul on hold.

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Statehouse
10:51 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Speaker Wants Voters To Decide Minimum Wage

  Plans to raise the minimum wage in Illinois have struggled all spring. Instead of letting the proposal fail in the General Assembly, Democratic leaders want to put it to voters. The question on the November ballot would be non-binding.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says he wants to ask voters a simple question: "Shall the minimum wage in Illinois for adults, over age 18, be raised to $10 an hour by January first, 2015?"

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