Statehouse

flickr/ Zoe Hoornaert

A couple of legislative primary races are serving as stand-ins for the political struggle between the governor and Democratic leaders. 

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Even as Governor Bruce Rauner announced his first steps toward criminal justice reform Wednesday, a police group says the lack of a state budget is making Illinois a more dangerous place to live.

Rauner touted proposals that would begin to inch toward his goal of reducing Illinois’ prison population by 25 percent over the next decade.

“Today is an important, very positive step forward," Rauner said, flanked by a bipartisan group of legislators.

Illinois government has been collecting a lot less money since an income tax rollback took effect at the beginning of last year. On Tuesday, officials warned that problems in the broader economy could make things even worse.

State lawmakers Tuesday voted to reopen a prison work camp in deep southern Illinois, but the governor's office says the attempt is politically-motivated.

University of Illinois Public Affairs

The vitriol and finger-pointing over the gridlock in state government has amplified. University leaders are trying to keep their distance, even as they fight for funding.

Illinois groups that help homeless youths recently asked Gov. Bruce Rauner to support legislation releasing money state money to them. They had hoped he would supporting funding they say they need to continue operating, but they said Rauner turned them down.

Supreme Court Won't Hear Springfield Panhandling Case

Feb 29, 2016
WUIS

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday declined to hear an appeal from Springfield over its anti-panhandling law. That means the capital city is barred from enforcing the ordinance because of an injunction.

Springfield's ordinance allows panhandlers in its downtown area to hold signs, but prohibits them from verbally asking for an immediate donation.

Two Springfield residents, who regularly panhandle, filed a lawsuit in 2013 saying the law violates their rights. Attorney Mark Weinberg represents the residents.

csu.edu

A crisis management team has been formed to help Chicago State University navigate budgetary peril. State higher education leaders are working to prevent CSU from closing, after eight months of waiting on state funding.

All of Chicago State University’s 900 employees are on notice – they’ll lose their jobs if the governor and lawmakers don’t come through with cash.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Doing something about Illinois' underfunded retirement systems remains an immediate goal for Gov. Bruce Rauner but despite a loose agreement with a leading Democrat, that plan has stalled.

Springfield may be a desert when it comes to budget deals but it seemed like there was a small oasis -- an agreement between Gov. Rauner and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton on pensions.

Gov. Bruce Rauner stumped across Illinois to drum up support for education funding — K-12 education finding, at least. College students, particularly from low-income backgrounds, have no such luck.

Abraham Lincoln Museum Celebrates 4 Millionth Visitor

Feb 26, 2016
Sarah Mueller WUIS

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library hit 4 million visitors Friday. Museum staff dropped balloons and a crowd cheered as Elise Arnold, the 4-millionth visitor, and her family entered the museum. 

Sarah Mueller WUIS

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association and its 300 members, which include ESPN and Yahoo, are backing legislation that would make daily fantasy games legal in Illinois. It would also characterize the contests as games of skill.

Sarah Mueller WUIS

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner continued stumping in favor of his school funding agenda Wednesday. He was in Springfield, touring a high school and speaking to teachers and students.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Days after vetoing a measure to help low-income college students, Gov. Bruce Rauner signaled he's open to another way of making it happen.

Rauner's reason for rejecting the Democrats' funding plan was that it would have sent Illinois deeper into debt.

But Rauner -- a Republican -- has said he'd be OK with an alternate GOP approach -- because it's paired with money to back it up. The governor's doubling down on that notion.

Creative Commons: Chris He, 2009

Journalists in Illinois have come up short trying to get information about Governor Bruce Rauner's state email. Wednedsay, the governor gave his explanation for why.

State transparency laws mean requests for emails in which Rauner had done state business should have yielded something.   

Unless, of course -- even in this age of digital everything -- there aren't any.

"I have no email. None whatsoever," Rauner says.

Gov. Rauner says an email-free existence has improved his quality of life, and increased his productivity.

Illinois Municipal League Supports Rauner Proposals

Feb 23, 2016
Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / N

Cities in Illinois want their financial ability to be a factor in labor contract negotiations. Union workers in public safety jobs can collectively bargain, but they can't strike. Disputes are settled by an objective arbitrator.

Illinois Homeless Caught In Budget Battle

Feb 23, 2016
Chicago Coalition for the Homeless advocates traveled to Springfield and urged more state funding for homeless education. Chicago Coalition for the Homeless advocates traveled to Springfield and urged more state funding for homeless education. The coaliti
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois has collected million dollars earmarked for helping the homeless. But the budget impasse means the money is continuing to sit untouched for now.

Illinois Supreme Court
Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois Supreme Court on Monday made television and radio coverage of court cases a permanent part of Illinois' legal landscape.

ilga.gov

The top Republican in the Illinois House says there is room to compromise with Democrats on the conservative agenda Gov. Bruce Rauner is pushing. 

Illinois lawmakers are beginning to craft a new state budget even though there still isn't one eight months into this fiscal year. There's no precedent for handling this murky situation. It go go any number of ways.

One option would have politicians craft a spending plan to cover this, the 2016 fiscal year ending June 30, before moving on. "I think we've kind of blown past that deadline already," Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said Wednesday following GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget address.

WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner's attempt to spur lawmakers into action has left no clear way forward in the state's seemingly never-ending budget saga. 

WIU students demonstrating.
Rich Egger / Tri States Public Radio

Low-income college students promised state help paying for tuition will continue to go without it. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has followed through on his pledge to reject funding for the Monetary Award Program.

Gov. Rauner vetoed Democratic-backed legislation to pay for so-called "MAP grants" Friday afternoon. Students had traveled to Springfield in recent days to rally in support of the plan.

Amanda Vinicky

Anti-smoking advocates want to raise the age for buying tobacco to 21, in an attempt to dissuade teenagers from picking up the habit.

You can vote at the age of 18, join the military, and for now buy cigarettes. Legislation (SB3011)  introduced by Sen. John Mulroe, D-Chicago, would require young adults to wait another four years.

Governor Bruce Rauner addressed the Illinois General Assembly this week with his vision for the next fiscal year, despite still having no agreement on a spending plan for the current year.  John O'Connor of the Associated Press joins the panel.

flickr/ Emilio Kuffer

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan for next fiscal year seeks to fix the foundation while the house is on fire.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says it's shocking and unacceptable that the state is in its eighth month without a budget. Wednesday, he laid out his vision for finally ending the political stalemate that has paralyzed state government. The Republican's language was more conciliatory, but the ideas remain the same.

Illinois government has never gone this long without a budget. The big question going into the speech was -- would the governor say anything to change the dynamic that's brought about this historic impasse?

WUIS

Listen to our broadcast of the Governor's Address with reaction from House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and Republican Leaders Rep. Jim Durkin and Sen. Christine Radogno.

Rich Miller of Capitol Fax and NPR Illinois' Amanda Vinicky join host Jak Tichenor for the broadcast:

Education may once again receive special treatment from Republican Governor Bruce Rauner. He's set to unveils his plans for the state budget later Wednesday.

Rauner is in an unprecedented position: he's required to present a plan for a new, balanced state budget when Illinois is eight months into its current fiscal year without one and is running a $6 billion deficit.

But a document from Rauner's office shows he'll again propose a windfall for pre-K through high schools.

T-shirts are sold on the first day of the September 2012 teachers’ strike.
Chicago Teachers Union

Despite unions winning a small victory Tuesday in the Illinois House, state workers' future salaries, benefits and even a potential strike remain in limbo.

A day ahead of Governor Bruce Rauner's budget address, a number of community organizations and labor unions are proposing a "People's Agenda." It's meant to be an alternative to the governor's "Turnaround Agenda."

The People's Agenda calls for higher tax rates on the wealthy and a new tax on stock trades. It would spend the money on programs like universal pre-K, ending homelessness and violence prevention.

Guadalupe Hernandez is with the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council. Speaking through a translator, she says the governor is too focused on a business agenda.

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