Statehouse

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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Election 2014
1:44 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

AFSCME Puts Aside Differences, Endorses Quinn

There was once a time, such as during a protest at the Illinois State Fair in 2012, that union members were comparing Gov. Pat Quinn to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; labor's wrath has turned to Bruce Rauner since he became Republican's nominee for governor.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Illinois' largest public employees union has made an about-face in its attitude toward Governor Pat Quinn. Over the weekend, AFSCME leaders endorsed him during a meeting in Peoria. It's a classic case of going with "the devil you know."

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Illinois Issues - Past Due
6:26 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Treasurer Candidate Tom Cross Says He Would Sue The Legislature To Force A Balanced Budget

Tom Cross
Credit Tom Cross for Treasurer campaign

Tom Cross of Oswego has spent more than 20 years as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives.  A former prosecutor, for over a decade he was the House Republican Leader.  

Now Cross, 56, wants to be state Treasurer.  He won the GOP nomination and faces Democratic state Senator  Mike Frerichs of Champaign.  The position is responsible for investing state dollars.

Cross said he feels current Treasurer Dan Rutherford has done "a nice job" streamlining the office and it's budget.  But he said he can take the office in a different direction.

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Election 2014
4:11 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Quinn Defends Public Education, Though He's A Product of Private Schools

Credit flickr/LizMarie_AK

Who Illinois voters choose to be their next governor could make a big difference in how Illinois funds schools, and even where students can go to get an education.

Quinn's agenda seems to leave things basically as-is; taxpayer dollars flow to public schools:

"I believe that the public system of education is the best way to go," Quinn told the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board last week.

Not that he has much personal experience in the system.

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Statehouse
3:21 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Fired IDOT Workers Sue Quinn Administration

Credit WUIS

Fifty-five workers who have been told they're being laid off by the Illinois Department of Transportation claimed in a lawsuit Friday that they're being fired to spare Gov. Pat Quinn election-campaign embarrassment over a hiring scandal.  

The Democratic governor's administration fired the so-called ``staff assistants'' last month in an IDOT shake up over a state investigation that found the agency hired 255 people over 10 years without going through proper channels to give everyone a chance to be hired.  

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State Week
1:51 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Listen to State Week - September 12, 2014

Credit Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, opponents in the gubernatorial race Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner traded barbs during a joint interview before the Chicago Tribune's Editorial Board.  Also, a proposal to increase the number of cameras used by on-duty police.

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Public Safety
5:00 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

Plan Would Give Police Cameras, Raise Fines

Credit flickr.com/appleswitch (Creative Commons)

The question of just what happened in Ferguson, Missouri before the shooting death of Michael Brown has renewed a push in Illinois to equip police with cameras.

Body and dashboard cameras for police isn't a new idea;  President of the Illinois's NAACP chapter, George Mitchell, says his organization has been supportive of the concept as far back as 2001.

But he says Ferguson shows why. Mitchell says had the Brown incident been on tape, much of the controversy could have been avoided.

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