Statehouse

Gone are the days a candidate can make a campaign appearance before a friendly crowd of party faithful, nearly a year before an election, and think his remarks will fade from memory as fast as the mass-produced fried chicken or roast beef the audience was likely served during the event. 

Gone are the days a candidate can make a campaign appearance before a friendly crowd of party faithful, nearly a year before an election, and think his remarks will fade from memory as fast as the mass-produced fried chicken or roast beef the audience was likely served during the event. 

Maureen Foertsch McKinney headshot
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS - Illinois Issues

Odds are, if a child doesn’t experience good parenting, schooling in early development programs and care for mental illness or other health care needs, he or she will face arrest for a violent crime.

A tragedy for the child and the victim or victims. But the long-range consequences of the child’s situation touch the rest of society. Those costs are tangible and will grow exponentially. 

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

  Guess what? 

State tax cuts don’t improve economic growth.

No, that’s not an April Fool’s Day zinger.

Rather, it’s the conclusion of a report issued last month by the Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children, a nonpartisan advocacy organization for the state’s youngsters (Poor Finances, Uncertainty about Looming Revenue Collapse Threaten State Economy).

  Governor Pat Quinn is selling his budget plan — with its extension of Illinois' income tax increase — as a way to better fund schools. But that boost doesn't come right away.

During his budget address, Gov. Quinn introduced big plans for education: modernizing classrooms. A "birth to five" early learning intiative. And more money for elementary and high schools.

"Over the next five years, my plan calls for the biggest education investment in state history," he said. "Every child should have an excellent school."

Notice he said "over the next five years."

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Four months ago, tornadoes whipped through Central Illinois, ravaging communities like Washington and Gifford. As the towns rebuild, some lawmakers want to give businesses a break when fixing up their properties.

Rebuilding after a natural disaster can be expensive; insurance money only covers so much. A proposal making its way through the General Assembly could help ease that burden on businesses, by providing a property tax break.

Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) says this would help stabilize local economies.

autobizz.com

Federal regulators say Illinois' longstanding ban on Sunday automobile sales isn't good for competition and can be harmful to the marketplace.  

The Federal Trade Commission says the prohibition on Sunday automobile sales also makes it more difficult for drivers to shop around for the best deal.  

The agency issued the statement late last week in response to a measure introduced by state Sen. Jim

Oberweis, who wants to repeal the law that went into effect in 1983.  Oberweis asked the FTC to weigh in. Violators can face a $1,500 fine.  

flickr/stevendepolo

  Hunters and trappers could harvest bobcats, under a measure that got approval from the Illinois House.

Hunting bobcats has been illegal in Illinois for decades.

But now that Department of Natural Resources numbers show the population growing, especially in southern and western parts of the state, Rep. Wayne Rosenthal wants that ban lifted.

His plan passed the House 91 to 20. Rosenthal, a Republican from Morrisonville, says his critics ask:

"Why do you want to get rid of these pretty, little kitties?"

This week, Governor Quinn's proposed state budget.

flickr/armymedicine

  Dental hygienists in Illinois could get a whole new job description under a proposal before the Illinois House. Hygienists say requiring less supervision would allow them to provide care in underserved communities.

Illinois Green Party website

  Illinois Republicans and Democrats chose their party's nominees last week. Third-party candidates are working to join them on the November ballot.

Before they can even think about winning a statewide election, independent candidates and those from third parties have to make it on the ballot, which requires collecting at least 25,000 valid signatures, by mid-June.

Green Party candidates are beginning their petition drive.

Host, Amanda Vinicky and guests Kent Redfield (UIS) and Charlie Wheeler (UIS) analyze the Governor's Budget Address. Focusing on the proposal to increase income tax, property tax relief, and the millionaire's tax.

  A tax on millionaires is advancing through the General Assembly ... at the expense of a progressive income tax.

The so-called "Millionaire's Tax" would levy a three percent surcharge on income over a $1 million. House Speaker Michael Madigan says that should raise about a billion dollars, which Illinois would send exclusively to schools.

"My judgment was that it helps education and it calls upon those in the society that are better able to help fund education than others."

The Capitol
Brian Mackey/WUIS

A new report (PDF) says Illinois' pension overhaul will save less money than advertised. Some politicians are trying to make hay out of that. But it might not be such a big deal.

The pension vote came with promises of big savings — $160 billion. Then, after it was already law, a new analysis of the bill said, well, maybe we'll save $145 billion.

This latest report puts savings even lower, at $137 billion.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Plenty can, and will, happen before voters go to the polls in November to chose their next governor. But a central theme of the campaign emerged Wednesday, when Gov. Pat Quinn proposed making permanent what was supposed to have been a temporary hike in the state's income tax. His Republican opponent, Bruce Rauner, favors letting the increase lapse. Their competing visions mean a lot is at stake ahead of the upcoming election, as well as for the state's future.

wuis

Governor Pat Quinn delivered his annual budget address before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly. 

Read a transcript of the Governor's remarks here.

housedem.state.il.us

Following an announcement by Governor Pat Quinn in his budget speech Wednesday, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan says he plans to call a vote on making the state's tax increase permanent.

Madigan is chairman of the state Democratic party and has served as speaker for nearly 30 years.

He made the comments during an interview with Illinois Public Television following Gov. Pat Quinn's budget address in Springfield on Wednesday.

Illinois residents would continue paying a 5-percent income tax rate under the much-anticipated budget proposal Governor Pat Quinn presented today. 

Illinois' income tax rate is supposed to expire in January, midway through the fiscal year.

Gov. Quinn says that would cause "savage cuts" to schools and other critical state services.
Instead, Quinn wants to make the higher income tax rate permanent.

  Advocates have been moving for months to give Illinois a progressive income tax. Instead of the same flat rate for everyone, those who make more would pay more. As Hannah Meisel reports, supporters are finally getting specific.

Backers of the plan argue most Illinoisans would get a tax cut.

Senator Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park, says this provides the state a new choice, instead of extending the 2011 income tax hike or making deep cuts to services.

BrettLevinPhotography / Flickr

Legislation that would allow minors and those with epilepsy to use medical cannabis in Illinois is one step closer to law.  

A Senate committee passed the proposal on Tuesday without opposition.  

  In a speech that could be pivotal for both his re-election campaign and for the state's finances, Governor Pat Quinn will Wednesday present his annual budget proposal. His administration is tight-lipped about what he has in mind. 

Illinois lawmakers — at least most of them — have agreed the state has about $35 billion dollars to spend next year.

But as House Republican Leader Jim Durkin says,

"How we distribute that money and divvy it up is a whole different analysis."

opensource on Flickr

  With one week left to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, Illinois' enrollment numbers are on track to meet their goals. But, many newly covered Illinoisans aren't actually buying private insurance.

About 114,000 people in Illinois have bought insurance under Obamacare. But 200,000 more have been signed up for Medicaid, the state's healthcare program for the poor.

Although the number of Medicaid enrollees is larger than the pool of people who've bought insurance, officials say they're not worried.

The Capitol
Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Illinois voters want the temporary income tax increase to rollback in January, as scheduled, even if it means sizable cuts in state spending.

Just over a quarter of voters surveyed favor making the current income tax rate permanent, while 60 percent oppose it.

The current 5 percent rate will drop at the end of the year unless lawmakers intervene.

The public's opposition is still strong — stronger even — when voters are told lowering the tax rate will add billions of dollars to the state budget deficit.

  More than a month after he was supposed to outline his financial agenda for the state, Governor Pat Quinn will deliver his budget address this week. He has promised to give a long-term plan as well. But some legislators fear Illinois will go the opposite route and adopt a partial-year budget.

During his budget speech Wednesday, Gov. Quinn will presumably answer the question he has avoided answering for months: what should Illinois do about the temporary income tax increase, set to rollback in January? That's midway through the next fiscal year.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  The Republicans' nominee for governor, Bruce Rauner, announced a round of new endorsements Thursday, but not from members of his own party.

Rauner is suspect in the eyes of some Republicans for his ties and campaign contributions to leading Democrats, like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

That may have been why his wife, Diana, wasn't often seen with him on the campaign trail leading up to the primary.

"This morning I'm here as a lifelong Democrat ..."

Federal agents were searching for child pornography when they seized computers from former state Rep. 

  Keith Farnham's home and offices this month.

Search warrants released by the Illinois House Saturday seek documents "concerning minors visually depicted while engaged in sexually explicit conduct" from computers in Farnham's
Elgin home and office as well as his Springfield office.

The Capitol
Brian Mackey/WUIS

  The Illinois legislature's discussions over state spending are getting heated. On Friday, Lawmakers heard from agencies facing massive budget cuts.

Eight agency heads told Senators how painful it'd be to cut 20 percent from their operations. That figure is based on a projected billion-dollar shortfall next year, when the temporary income tax hike begins to sunset.

It could mean less funding to schools, fewer state police patrols, closure of prisons and mass layoffs.

This week, a discussion of Tuesday's election results.

capitol
Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  A plan to raise the minimum wage in Illinois has cleared its first legislative hurdle. But as it moves through the General Assembly, it continues to draw criticism from business groups.

The plan would gradually increase the state's minimum wage to $10.65 an hour. Illinois' current rate is $8.25, already one of the highest in the nation.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  As legislators who'll have to vote on a minimum wage increase began debating the issue in Springfield, Governor Pat Quinn was in Chicago promoting it.

Gov. Quinn has been relentless, lately, about increasing Illinois' minimum wage up from $8.25.

His latest push involved going shopping at The Gap for gifts for his nieces. He invited the media to witness it.

Quinn paid $77.49 — cash — for three sweaters.

The Gap's moving to pay its employees $10 an hour. Quinn says Illinois should follow that example.

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