A group of lawmakers granted themselves subpoena power Tuesday, to further an investigation into an anti-violence program favored by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. Brian Mackey looks at whether it's necessary — or just for show.
The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative was rushed out in fall 2010, as Quinn was up for election.
Advocates for nursing homes say if Illinois does not keep income tax rates where they are, thousands of seniors could lose access to care. But it's not yet clear whether the General Assembly will make the tax hike permanent.
Lawmakers have a little less than a month to pass a budget for the next fiscal year -- a budget that nursing homes rely on to subsidize their operations.
Advocates say if the state's income tax is allowed to roll back as scheduled at the end of the year, nursing homes are projected to take a 14 percent funding cut.
Rick Winkel served in the legislature from 1995 to 2003. Now he is Director of the Office of Public Leadership at the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs.
He wrote a recent op-ed that criticizes how budgeting is done. He said more transparency is needed, including data that is easier for people outside of government to understand.
"When that data is available and provided openly, understandably so it's concise and legible and put in a format that's consistent," he said. "Opening up the process before decisions are made and afterward."
Even as a lawsuit could nullify them, the state board of elections has begun a tedious — but necessary — task of preparing a pair of proposed constitutional amendments for the November ballot. The two citizen initiatives aim to strip lawmakers of the power to draw their own maps and to limit their terms in office.
A dozen-or-so workers sit at tables at the board of elections building in Springfield.
Sliding, one at a time, more than 105,000 pieces of paper through scanners," said Rupert Borgsmiller, director of the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is a Republican, but his wife says she is not. As Rauner's campaign continues to criticize Governor Quinn's stance on taxes, Rauner's wife has a stake in the cause.
Just after the March primary election, Illinois was introduced to Diana Rauner, Bruce Rauner's wife. She introduced herself as "a lifelong Democrat."
She's also the CEO of Ounce of Prevention, a Chicago-based non-profit that uses state grant money to help promote early childhood education.
The two men vying for governor disagree on a lot of issues, most notably what to do about Illinois' budget. Still, it's hard to compare the two, because one plan doesn't seem to exist.
It was nearly a month ago, at an event for Sangamon County Republicans that the party's nominee, Bruce Rauner, said "we'll be coming out with a comprehensive plan, that will be recommending about what we should change in our regulations and in our tax code and in our spending structure, in the, in … relatively near future."
The panel discusses several investigations into Governor Pat Quinn's administration and allegations of corruption, also a couple ballot initiatives - one on term limits and another regarding redistricting.
The Illinois attorney general says the former president of a Peoria-area construction firm involved with Illinois Capitol renovations has pleaded guilty to fraud.
Stephen Roeschley is former president of Morton-based Core Construction Services of Illinois. Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office says Roeschley pleaded guilty Friday to wire fraud in Sangamon County court.
Madigan's office says the company used a minority-owned business to obtain a contract as part of the $50 million Illinois Capitol restoration project.
Doris Fogel, in foreground, recounts her childhood as a refugee from the Nazis, spent among 20,000 Jews in the Shanghai ghetto. Behind her is Gov. Pat Quinn. The annual Holocaust Memorial Ceremony took place in the House chamber of the Old State Capitol in Springfield.
Republican state Rep. Mike Bost, left, listens to Democratic Congressman Bill Enyart testify about legislation to allow repairs to a levy in southern Illinois. The men are competing for the 12th Congressional District seat currently held by Enyart.
An Illinois House committee on Thursday approved legislation that would allow repairs to a levee in Grand Tower, in southern Illinois. It would have been routine except for the featured witness — sitting U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart.
State elections authorities are beginning to go through 37,535 sheets of paper, filled with voters' signatures. An organization trying to change how Illinois draws legislative districts dropped off the monster petition Thursday in Springfield.
The petition made its way from Chicago to Springfield in a custom-made metal box, strapped down in a semi; it took more than a dozen workers and volunteers to carefully unload it.
Republicans say they've found another way to fundraise for a future Barack Obama presidential library ... one that doesn't involve state funds. This comes a day after Democrats advanced a plan to use state funds to entice the president to put his library in Chicago.
Attorney Mike Kasper stands at the podium, as House Speaker and Democratic Party of Illinois Chairman Michael Madigan looks on, at a recent Party meeting in Springfield. Kasper, a Madigan ally, has been hired by a group of taxpayers seeking to dismiss two citizen's initiatives.
A lawsuit seeking to keep two citizen's initiatives from ever coming before voters has been filed. Although the case makes no mention of how it will affect minority voters' rights, sources say organizers took pains to reach out to ethnic groups.
Two potential constitutional changes are at issue: one limiting how long legislators can be in office, the other stripping them of the power to draw their own districts.
The suit challenging them was filed by Mike Kasper, an attorney closely aligned with House Speaker Mike Madigan; the powerful Democrat is against both plans.
Illinois' General Assembly is heading into its final stretch. They've got a lot to resolve before their scheduled adjournment at the end of this month, including what to do about Illinois' income tax rate. It's scheduled to drop midway through the next fiscal year, but Democrats, including Senate President John Cullerton, want to make the current, higher rate permanent. WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky spoke with Cullerton about it earlier this week, and about why, despite the financial fights ahead, he's proud of the state.
The governor of Illinois, as well as the man who wants to take his job, were both in Springfield Wednesday. What they were doing offers a clear picture of the different directions they want to take the state.
Republican Bruce Rauner was in town to file petitions for his term limits proposal. Then he addressed a meeting of business groups holding an "Employer Action Day."
"Let's make Illinois the most attractive state to do business, rather than one of the most hostile states to do business," he said. "Nothing else more important than that. Number one priority by far."
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner filed his term limit initiative with election officials today Wednesday. The massive petition drive came with a hefty price tag.
Rauner's term limit group spent eight months collecting more than twice the number of signatures needed to get the question on the November ballot. That means conversations like this one, from primary Election Day, happened nearly 600,000 times:
Members of the General Assembly this spring are grappling with whether to change the way schools are funded in Illinois. With just a month of session left, the plan's sponsor is altering his strategy, in hopes Republican opposition will fade into bipartisan support.
Senator Andy Manar wants schools to receive state money based on the needs of their students ... not the wealth of local property taxpayers. So, the Democrat from Bunker Hill has proposed an overhaul of Illinois' complicated school funding formula.
Illinois lawmakers have long debated whether to combine the offices of comptroller and treasurer. Both candidates for treasurer are competing to one-up each other over whether the office should even exist.
A state senator who's trying to change a mistake in Illinois' pension reform law says he's optimistic it can be corrected.
But as lawmakers head back to Springfield Tuesday, state Sen. Daniel Biss says he isn't sure yet just when or how that will happen. The language in last year's pension law would sharply reduce the pension of thousands of university employees if they don't retire by June 30, and some worry that may push many public university employees to retire early.
Illinois lawmakers continue to hear dire scenarios for the state budget if they do not vote to extend the five-percent income tax rate. The latest threatened cuts include the entire state Capitol Police force.
The Capitol Police Department was established less than 10 years ago, after a deranged man shot and killed an unarmed security officer.
The shooting led to the installation of metal detectors and x-ray machines, and hiring sworn, armed law enforcement personnel.