Statehouse

Lisa Ryan

A month and a half after the Illinois State Museum shut its doors to visitors, lawmakers Tuesday passed a measure that could lead to its reopening.

The Illinois State Museum and its affiliated sites shut their doors to visitors at the end of September. Advocates have mourned the loss of the Springfield-based museum, which also hosts researchers and preserves millions of artifacts, from mastodon skeletons to Native American relics.

Illinois State Museum

 The Illinois State Museum and its affiliated sites shut their doors to visitors at the end of September. Legislators Tuesday took action that could result in its reopening ... one day. 

advocates confront Ken Dunkin
Amanda Vinicky / WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner is standing by his decision to backtrack on cuts to a low-income daycare program. That comes even as Democrats in the Illinois House failed to pass legislation that would have forced Rauner to undo his changes.

The program is meant to help parents out of poverty by subsidizing daycare, so they can work or go to school.

Rauner unilaterally slashed eligibility this summer. After months of outcry and a Democratic threat to pass legislation undoing his changes, Rauner on Monday announced he'd back off most of the cuts.

Amanda Vinicky

Five months into operating without a state budget, Illinois Democrats and Republicans came together Tuesday to pass a budget bill. But it was a relatively minor one; a full agreement is sure to be a ways off.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois state Rep. Ken Dunkin, a Democrat from Chicago, made headlines in September when he skipped votes on two controversial measures Democrats wanted to pass.

Amanda Vinicky

Donald Trump used a campaign stop in Springfield Monday to further stir up controversy over what Starbucks is serving its java in.

It seems that Starbuck's new, ombre red holiday cups aren't Trump's cup of tea (or of coffee, as the case may be).

Some Christians are upset with the cups' new design, which doesn't feature reindeer or ornaments, like in years' past; they view it as a sign the chain is removing Christmas.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois isn't typically a state presidential candidates spend time campaigning in early in the campaign season. But a year out from the general election, Republican front-runner Donald Trump got an enthusiastic reception Monday at a rally in the capitol city.

The Capitol
Brian Mackey/WUIS

A 50-year holiday tradition will light up the Illinois statehouse after all, even if a Grinch-like budget gridlock carries on through the rest of the year. Crews will hang strings of Christmas lights over the dome this morning.

Not having a state budget has led to a lot of consequences. One of the more visible ones: Secretary of State Jesse White announced last week the capitol would have to go dark for the holidays. White says the office can't afford it.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Thousands of low-income families would once be able to get state help paying for child care  under a compromise deal introduced Monday by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Host Amanda Vinicky (Illinois Public Radio) and guests Brian Mackey (Illinois Public Radio) and Dave Dahl (Illinois Radio Network) discuss the year since private equity investor Bruce Rauner won election as governor, how seriously to take rumblings that former Gov. Pat Quinn wants a rematch, and the ongoing slow-motion shutdown of state government.

Illinois Department of Revenue

There are efforts at the State Capitol to double the homestead tax exemption across Illinois.  

Thousands of senior citizens and persons with disabilities are waiting to learn if Illinois will change how it determines who qualifies for state aid and what kind of services are provided. As the state's embroiled in budget gridlock, it's one of the areas Governor Bruce Rauner tried to cut back on spending. But legislators (including a handful of Rauner's fellow Republicans, a rarity) voted to prevent that.

On Friday, Rauner used his veto powers in an apparent attempt to strike a balance.

Advocates for senior citizens and people with disabilities are assessing how action Friday by the Republican governor affects services they say they depend on.

Early this year, Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled a plan to save money, by making it harder for the elderly and disabled individuals to qualify for government aid.

People not deemed needy enough would no longer receive state-provided home care workers, or state-paid nursing home care.

Gov. Bruce Rauner continues downplaying the prospects for the upcoming meeting between he and state legislative leaders. Meanwhile, the partial government shutdown means some state universities might have a hard time making it through the spring semester. The Chicago Tribune's Monique Garcia joins the panel to talk about that and more on the latest episode of State Week.

Illinois Issues/WUIS

On Tuesday, voters in Ohio considered whether to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana use. It would have created a new provision in the state's constitution that allowed only ten farms to grow the plant legally. That plan had its critics, and the measure failed. Many experts have their eye on Ohio - as it serves as an example of Midwestern residents trying to take on the legalization issue that has swept Colorado and the West Coast.

The Illinois Supreme Court has once again ruled in favor of tobacco giant Philip Morris. The decision, announced Wednesday, saves the company from a $10.1 billion judgment. 

The case has been before the court off and on for more than a decade. A group of smokers say Philip Morris tricked them into thinking “light” cigarettes were safer than regular. 

Thomas Fitzgerald
Brian Mackey

Thomas Fitzgerald, a judge who had a leading role in the aftermath of some of Illinois’ most notorious political scandals, died on Sunday at his home in the Chicago suburbs.

IHPA

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency board of directors has dismissed the director and appointed its general counsel to hold the post on an interim basis. 

Brian Mackey / WUIS

Senior citizens are among those feeling the pain of Illinois' partial government shutdown. AARP and other groups are calling on the state’s top politicians to set aside their differences and pass a state budget.

The cost of the system, so far, is covered by a $9 million federal grant. The State Board of Education estimates the first-year cost of developing the program at about $1.1 million, followed by $2.5 million each of the next three years.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner has so far focused his attention on business and union issues, and restructuring state government - like workers' compensation, tort reform and legislative term limits. But what about his education agenda?

At East Alton-Wood River High School, as well in schools across the state, the measurement of academic improvement is based on a single test given over two days once a year. “It’s silly to measure a school’s performance by that,” says the Superintendent.
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The makeup of Illinois schools is changing. If you moved every desk, from every Illinois school, into one giant classroom, more than half of the kids in those seats would be students of color.

That's on par with national figures; last year the U.S. Department of Education signaled that minorities would outnumber whites at the nation's public schools.

Good news on the state budget: It seems the governor will finally meet with all four legislative leaders to discuss their differences. Bad news on the state budget: Gov. Bruce Rauner says he doesn't expect much to come of it. And yet: "I wouldn't give up hope so soon," House Speaker Michael Madigan said of the governor's remarks.

Illinois Supreme Court Building
Illinois Supreme Court

Judicial races are getting increasingly politicized, according to a study published Thursday surveying 2013-2014 state Supreme Court races called "Bankrolling the Bench."

Image Credt: www.planetofsuccess.com/blog

The constitutional requirement for a balanced budget is not as strict as you might think.

Days after an Illinois high school student died from football injuries, a Cook County judge has dismissed a lawsuit alleging the sports' governing body didn't do enough to protect athletes.

Bruce Rauner
WUIS

Did the voters know what they were getting?

Illinois has hit a cash flow problem and will not be ably to make its monthly pension payment in November and possibly December. The state's inability to cover its expenses has some asking the question: will Illinois run out of money?

SEIU TV ad
SEIU Healthcare Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner recently reached an agreement with a trio of unions -- representing some 300 plumbers, machinists and engineers and operators. But he's still at odds with unions representing the bulk of state employees: the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the Service Employees International Union.

SEIU represents home care workers -- people who help the disabled and elderly care for themselves. Denise Gaines, legislative director of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana, says now, these workers get paid to take important training.

Brass rail outside the Governor's office
Amanda Vinicky / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Mark your calendars. A date has been set. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has called a meeting with the legislature's leaders to talk about the budget impasse for Nov. 18.

Illinois still has no budget plan and no progress on an agreement is in sight.  The state is spending far more than it's taking in, higher education and social services have largely been left out to dry, and Illinois' credit rating continues to be downgraded.  Meanwhile, Governor Rauner is beginning to face criticism from within his own party.  Kurt Erickson of Lee Enterprises joins the panel discussion this week.

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