Statehouse

BarackObama.com

President Barack Obama cited gun violence in his hometown Tuesday during a White House speech.

Obama says he's using his executive authority to put restrictions on firearms because too many innocent people, including children, have lost their lives to bullets.

"Every time I think about those kids, it makes me mad. And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day,” he said.

A supportive audience applauded the statement, as Obama used his index finger to wipe a tear from his cheek.

Bill Wheelhouse WUIS

A total of 23 Illinois counties are under state disaster status due to flooding. Gov. Bruce Rauner added 11 to that list Tuesday.

Amanda Vinicky

A month ahead of the the Iowa caucuses, presidential contenders can officially file to run in neighboring Illinois. 

Five Republicans got their petitions in early Monday, with at least 3,000 signatures each.

The Illinois Republican Party's attorney John Fogarty says the popular vote for president is known here as the "beauty contest."

That's because who Illinois GOP primary voters pick as delegates -- who are listed on the ballot as supporters of a particular candidate -- is where the race is really won.

WILL

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he spent his nearly two-week holiday vacation in Spain and Morocco with his family.

This week, a look back at the past year in Illinois state government and politics.  WUIS News Director Sean Crawford and Illinois Issues Editor Jamey Dunn join the panel.

WUIS

The chances of Illinois state leaders approving a budget get better starting in January.

That’s because of a quirk in state law.

Black legislators say Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner hasn’t done enough in the wake of the release of police shootings of LaQuan McDonald and other African Americans.

When asked by reporters, Gov. Rauner said he cried after watching the 2014 video of black Chicago teenager LaQuan McDonald getting shot 16 times by a city cop.

“That video — shocking, terrifying. I cried for the young man who was brutally shot," he said.

In recent days officers responding to a call killed two other black Chicagoans.

WUIS

The Illinois attorney general has ruled that Gov. Bruce Rauner's office has withheld too much information on his daily appointment calendars from taxpayers. 

John Cullerton, Bruce Rauner and Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey / WUIS

As we get ready to welcome 2016, we thought we’d take a few minutes to listen back to what’s been a difficult year in Illinois government and politics. There was an epic fight between Democrats and Republicans in Springfield, disgrace for two Illinois Congressmen, and a reckoning over violence in Chicago. Here now are some of the voices that made news in 2015.

Come Friday,  when the New Year begins, 237 new laws will be in effect in Illinois – about half of those that passed during Gov. Bruce Rauner’s first term. But the state is still without a budget as Rauner and lawmakers fight over a handful more.

Flickr user: Matt Turner

More than 200 new laws will go into effect in Illinois on January 1.

This week, the panel reflects back on some memorable people and events in Illinois state politics and government over the past few decades, how things have changed, and how things have stayed the same.

Illinois could finally reckon with its dramatically overcrowded prisons in 2016.

The entire system is at 146 percent of the capacity it was designed to hold, but that number doesn’t tell the whole story. Some individual prisons — such as East Moline, Illinois River and Lincoln — are above 200 percent of the rated capacity.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois got a new governor in 2015 but not a budget. In terms of state government, a lot has—and hasn’t — happened in the past year.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

Money is still being raised to help run the Illinois State Museum in Springfield - even though its doors have been closed to the public for three months. A not-for-profit that deals with grants and private donations continues to solicit, sending out pleas for donations in the mail.

State leaders aren't discussing how Illinois can bring in more tax money; not yet anyway. Given the state's growing deficit they'll get there one day. The state's leading group for retirees is on the offensive over one particular tax break.

Herwig Kavallar, Creative Commons

It can be scary for a victim of sexual abuse to have to testify about it in court; a state law taking effect in the New Year is meant to give them comfort. With it, children will be able to bring canine companions with them to court.

Illinois' budget crisis won't be resolved this year.  Governor Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders are sticking to their respective positions, and this week House Speaker Michael Madigan didn't attend a meeting that focused on discussion of term limits and other aspects of Rauner's demands.  WBEZ Public Radio's Tony Arnold joins the panel.

Amanda Vinicky

It'll be 2016 before Illinois' top political leaders meet again, as a historic stalemate grinds on. 

City of Wheaton website

Illinois has more individual units of government than any other state. A report approved Thursday by a gubernatorial task force says that ought to change.

Eliminating the requirement that governments print public notices in newspapers, allowing citizens to use referendum to dissolve units of local government, and repealing the prevailing wage (which stipulates what construction workers get paid for government projects): These are the recommendations that'll be included in the report.

Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislative leaders went half a year without all getting together, but Thursday they met for the third time in as many weeks ... most of them anyway.  A major player was missing.

The private meeting in the governor's office lasted an hour and 40 minutes.

Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno described it as a "good" meeting.

"We are still talking about the same issues we've been talking about," she said. "We'll be digging in a little deeper on pensions and workers' comp. We also talked about redistricting reform, term limits."

hot dogs neon sign
Jeremy Brooks / via Flickr.com/jeremybrooks

Even though much of Illinois government is operating without a budget, the state is still looking to spend money. Right now, on Illinois’ procurement website, there are dozens of notices. Reporter Kurt Erickson returns to State of the State for a procurement primer.

TRANSCRIPT: From NPR Illinois, it’s State of the State. I’m Brian Mackey, and the state of the state today is on a buying spree.

SOUNDBITE: "And they ran out of hot dog spice, or wiener spice, as I called it. And they had to go out and try to find some and emergency purchase."

Evalyn Sanguinetti at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

The finishing touches are going on a plan to streamline local government costs.

One of Gov. Bruce Rauner's controversial ideas, is to give local governments the option to discontinue collective bargaining. That's something state law requires now.

The task force chaired by Rauner's lieutenant governor, Evelyn Sanguinetti has embraced the idea.

By the end of this year, Sanguinetti says the group will have a report published, with that and other recommendations for finding mandates that can be done away with, room for government consolidation, and cutting costs.

flickr/DavidWilson

Campaign contributions to former Governor Rod Blagojevich may have sealed the fate for a pair of historic Illinois racetracks. But not if some state legislators have their way.

npr.org

  Even with all of its fiscal troubles Illinois will have to put nearly $8 billion into its retirement systems next year -- that's a quarter of the state's expected revenue. Legislative leaders and the governor may finally be poised to begin talking about how they may be able to reduce costs.

During a speech in Chicago this week, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was asked about the prospects for new taxes, while Governor Bruce Rauner said that he expects the budget stalemate to continue into the spring.   Despite the budget impasse, an agreement was made to send some money owed to Illinois municipalities, as well as to the lottery and Secretary of State.  Matt Dietrich of RebootIllinois.com joins the panel.

Will Clayton

The Illinois Constitution turns 45 on December 15. As the document reaches its birthday, Charlie Wheeler looks at the ways it modernized government. 

wnij

Years of mismanagement led to the state’s current fiscal crisis. A recent report from the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) suggests changes to the budgeting process that could help prevent future disasters. 

AFSCME Council 31

The state's largest public employee union remains at odds with Governor Rauner's administration on a new contract.  

A year ago, Illinois' income tax rate fell by 25-percent. The top Democrat in the Illinois House is suggesting it go back up.

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