Statehouse

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If proceeds from video gaming were a coconut cream pie, Illinois municipalities would only get a taste. But if you added up those nibbles every month, it may be enough to notice an increasing waistline.

In December alone, Illinois municipalities that offer video gaming shared $1.8 million.

Video gaming machines starting spewing out the green in the fall of 2012. Illinois started with a few hundred gaming terminals. By the end of last year, there were more than 13,000 terminals in the state.

Dan Rutherford
Chicago Tribune via YouTube

A man who says he was a victim of sexual harassment by Treasurer Dan Rutherford has submitted a letter of resignation.

The man, who does not want to be identified, submitted the letter Monday, but did not release a copy of it.

The alleged victim describes unwanted advances by Treasurer Rutherford, and accuses him of trying to force state employees to work on behalf of his campaign for governor.

Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Pat Quinn has asked for more time before he delivers his budget address in part to prepare a five-year spending blueprint.  
Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said Monday that the governor would like to delay his annual budget speech from Feb. 19 to March 26.

Amanda Vinicky

  There are more than 200,000 limited liability corporations operating in Illinois. The governor has a proposal he says will add more. But business groups are skeptical it will help.

To file as an LLC in Illinois, you have to pay the state at least $500.

During his state of the state address, Gov. Pat Quinn proposed lowering the fee to $39.

"This small but important step will encourage entrepreneurs to start their business and put more people to work right here in Illinois," Quinn, a Democrat, said.

Valinda Rowe is the spokeswoman for the all-volunteer IllinoisCarry.Com, a Second Amendment rights group.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

A December 2012 federal court ruling overturning Illinois’ ban on carrying firearms in public set the stage for what has been a year-long conversation about guns in the state. The issue brought citizens, clergy members, victims’ family members, volunteer advocates and lobbyists to the Statehouse in droves to hold rallies, give speeches and testify before committees. 

Bruce Rauner
WUIS/Illinois Issues

If there’s a common observation regarding Gov. Pat Quinn’s future, it’s this: He’s one darn lucky guy.

We know the story: He faced the most formidable of challengers — the well-financed and personally popular Lisa Madigan as well as Bill Daley, who comes from another big Chicago family name with plenty of connections. 

Kent Redfield
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In the final weeks of 2013, Illinois was among more than 20 states tripping over each other like eager suitors to woo a new Boeing production plant for its 777x airliner. The aerospace giant had put out word that it was abandoning its Washington state production plans over labor disputes and would consider the presentations of any states that wanted a shot at it. It said it would decide in January 2014 which state would get the estimated 8,500 jobs and other economic windfalls associated with the project.

Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Papers of Abraham Lincoln project is on a mission to capture digital images of every document written by or to the nation’s 16th president during his lifetime. It also intends to transcribe those documents, annotate them and publish them in a free online database.

So far, the project has scanned more than 97,000 documents from more than 400 repositories and 190 private collections in 47 states and six foreign countries. The staff expects the Papers to encompass more than 150,000 documents when complete.

End and Means: Illinois Should Examine Its Revenue Structure

Feb 1, 2014
Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Has the time come to overhaul Illinois’ venerable (outdated?) revenue structure?

The question is more than academic, given the daunting challenge for Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly to craft a balanced budget for next fiscal year with some $2 billion less in receipts due to the partial rollback of the 2011 income tax increase.

flickr/theeggplant

  Illinois ranks first in a nationwide study surveying traffic safety laws. The new report card by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety gave Illinois’ collection of traffic laws a very high grade with just one caveat: llinois does not require motorcycle riders to wear a helmet.

Jackie Gillan, president of the lobbying group, says this is the biggest factor precluding Illinois from a higher grade.

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, a discussion of Governor Pat Quinn's State of the State address.

DanRutherford.org

An attorney for an employee in state Treasurer Dan Rutherford's office says her client has filed ``serious'' and ``troubling'' allegations against him with a state inspector general.  

The Chicago Sun-Times reports Christine Svenson says in a statement Friday (http://bit.ly/1ii627y) that the claims have nothing to do with politics.  

Rutherford is seeking the Republican nomination for governor. At a news conference earlier Friday, he accused rival candidate Bruce Rauner of being behind the allegations.  

en.wikipedia.org

Something notable was missing from Governor Pat Quinn’s State of the State address this week: talk about Illinois’ finances.  Presumably that’ll come when he gives his budget address next month.  This got me wondering: why not have just one speech?

Like Quinn, Senator John Sullivan of Rushville is a Democrat.  Still, he says the State of the State speech was lacking detail, and it left him wondering what will happen to the state's budget.

  House Speaker Michael Madigan wants to cut the state's corporate tax rate in half. It's an apparent about face on tax policy that's left some Republicans scratching their heads.

Madigan says his proposal aims to create a friendlier business climate in Illinois. Corporations would pay a 3.5 percent tax, down from the current 7 percent.

It's a sharp turn from three years ago when Madigan pushed to increase the corporate tax rate along with the individual income tax.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn delivered his sixth State of the State address Wednesday. As Brian Mackey reports, Quinn's speech was pretty much what you'd expect from a man fighting to keep his job despite some of the lowest approval ratings of any governor in America.

Quinn laid out a list of proposals that seem finely honed to appeal to Democratic voters: increasing the minimum wage, doubling a tax credit for the working poor, and requiring at least two days of sick time for all employees.

  Legislators will descend on the capital city Wednesday, to hear the governor's annual state-of-the-state address. It's the first day they'll be in Springfield this year.

The General Assembly had a jam-packed 2013. It started with new members being sworn into office, and ended with new laws legalizing same-sex marriage and overhauling state pensions.

capitol
Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  A coalition of labor unions has called Illinois' new pension law "theft." Now they've filed a lawsuit. It comes a day before Governor Pat Quinn is expected to herald the law in his State of the State address.

Gov. Pat Quinn
Brian Mackey/WUIS

  A hike in the minimum wage, sending more children to preschool and more grants for low-income college students are all part of the agenda Governor Pat Quinn laid out Wednesday in his State of the State address. But critics are already calling it fantasy.

Five years to the day after he first became governor, Pat Quinn tried to make the case that Illinois is "making a comeback."

ilga.gov

  The polar vortex returned to the Midwest this week, with frigid temperatures making it difficult for Illinoisans to keep their houses warm. Winter has been especially harsh for people who heat with propane, which has seen a near four-fold price increase in the wake of a regional shortage.

State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) says the cost of propane is forcing families to make difficult decisions.

uis.edu

Gov. Pat Quinn's challenger in the March primary says the Chicago Democrat's claims that ``Illinois is making a comeback'' don't add up.

Tio Hardiman is a Hillside Democrat and the former director of a Chicago anti-violence program.  
He spoke following Quinn's State of the State address Wednesday in Springfield. Quinn said during the speech that Illinois has improved since he took office.  

WUIS

State Sen. Kirk Dillard says Gov. Pat Quinn missed the biggest issues facing Illinois during his State of the State speech.
 
The GOP gubernatorial candidate says Quinn used ``perfume'' to cover up Illinois' economic outlook. Dillard says Quinn's speech was a populist, re-election speech.
 
Dillard also criticized the governor for not addressing plans for the income
tax increase set to expire in 2015. He says the budget is a ``foot on the throat
to economic development.''
 

Gov. Pat Quinn says raising Illinois' minimum wage is about dignity and decency. 

Quinn reiterated his push Wednesday during his State of the State address. He says he wants to raise the state's $8.25 rate to at least $10 an hour. 

"Our minimum wage workers are doing hard work.  They are putting in long hours.  Yet in too many instances, they are living in poverty.  That's not right.  That's not an Illinois value.  that's not a fair shake."

Gov. Pat Quinn
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Governor Pat Quinn gives his sixth State of the State address at noon today in Springfield. It comes in an election year that has Quinn seeking a second full term as governor.

Quinn has spent a lot of time talking about the state's pension problems in recent years. Now, with a bid for re-election on the line, he's turning to more populist issues, like an increase in the minimum wage.

Here's Quinn last month: "When we put more purchasing power in the hands of hard-working people, they're not going to admire the money in the bank vault."

ilga.gov

The Illinois House Republican leader says his top priority is legislation meant to reduce unemployment. Jim Durkin’s comments come ahead of Governor Pat Quinn’s State of the State Address Wednesday.

Illinois’ unemployment rate last month was 8.6 %. That’s down almost a full point from a year ago.  But House minority leader Jim Durkin - from Chicago’s southwest suburbs - says it’s still too high.

"It’s clearly understandable why we have governors from our surrounding states coming into Illinois seeking to poach our good employers, our good job creators," Durkin said.

wuis

Illinois labor unions have filed a lawsuit seeking a new plan to reduce the state's $100 billion pension shortfall declared unconstitutional.  

The We Are One Illinois Coalition of public employee unions filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Sangamon County Circuit court.  
The long-anticipated legal challenge comes weeks after Gov. Pat Quinn signed the measure into law and ahead of his annual State of the State address.  

Casino Queen
Paul Sableman (pasa47) via Flickr

An Illinois lawmaker is attempting to revive talks over a massive expansion of gambling in the state. The effort begins Tuesday evening at a casino in East St. Louis.

After years of effort, talks to expand gambling broke down last spring. The issue receded amid high-profile legislation dealing with pensions, concealed carry, and same-sex marriage.

Now Rep. Bob Rita, a Democrat from Blue Island, is trying to get gambling back on the front burner.

He's planning several public hearings across the state, beginning at the Casino Queen in East St. Louis.

The Capitol
Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Nearly three million Illinoisans receive benefits in the form of food stamps, welfare or medical help. But one lawmaker says too much of this assistance is being "drained" by drug users.

Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) is proposing changes to the way beneficiaries qualify for assistance. He wants to require drug testing when people sign up for welfare. The representative says the state pays money to people without assessing their ability to be productive.

Kirk Dillard
Hannah Meisel/WUIS

All four candidates spoke with reporters after Thursday's Republican gubernatorial debate in Peoria. Here's what they had to say:

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, a discussion of Thursday's debate in Peoria among the hopefuls to be the Republican candidate in the upcoming governor's race.

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