Brian Mackey http://wuis.org en Illinois Finally Gets 'No Child Left Behind' Waiver http://wuis.org/post/illinois-finally-gets-no-child-left-behind-waiver <p>After more than two years of trying, Illinois has finally won a waiver from the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind. Brian Mackey reports on what this means for schools in Illinois.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>The short answer is not much.</p><p>Illinois has already been moving beyond the No Child Left Behind law for some time, even as it waited for permission from the federal government.</p><p>Matt Vanover, a spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Education, says there were problems with No Child Left Behind.</p> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 22:06:08 +0000 Brian Mackey 23320 at http://wuis.org Illinois Finally Gets 'No Child Left Behind' Waiver Employment Improves, But Illinois Still Lags U.S. http://wuis.org/post/employment-improves-illinois-still-lags-us <p>The latest state job numbers are out and the news for Illinois is mixed. The unemployment rate is down. But fewer people were hired than expected, and Illinois still lags the nation.</p><p>Illinois' March unemployment rate is 8.4 percent. That's the best it's been in more than five years, but it's still among the worst rates in the country.</p><p>On top of that, officials blame the unseasonably cold weather for the fact that fewer jobs were added in March than in the previous month.</p> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 11:00:50 +0000 Brian Mackey 23245 at http://wuis.org Employment Improves, But Illinois Still Lags U.S. Plan Threatens Proposed Downstate Casinos http://wuis.org/post/plan-threatens-proposed-downstate-casinos <p>A group of Illinois lawmakers considered two different plans to expand gambling Wednesday. One tracks other recent proposals to add five casinos across Illinois; the other focuses on Chicago.</p><p>Every expansion of gambling in Illinois has required a delicate balance of competing geographic and businesses interests.</p><p>That's why plans in recent years have called for slot machines at horse racetracks, and five new casinos: in Chicago, the south suburbs, Lake County, Rockford, and Danville.</p> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:00:50 +0000 Brian Mackey 23169 at http://wuis.org Plan Threatens Proposed Downstate Casinos Durbin Calls For A Return of 'Earmarks' http://wuis.org/post/durbin-calls-return-earmarks <p>It's been a few years since Congressional "earmarks" were eliminated from federal transportation spending. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says it's time to bring them back.</p><p>Earmarks have a bad name — remember the "bridge to nowhere," a plan to spend nearly $400 million on a bridge to an island in Alaska with 50 residents?</p><p>Durbin says earmarks should have been reformed, not eliminated. He says legislators are in touch with the transportation needs of their districts and states.</p> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 18:43:28 +0000 Brian Mackey 23069 at http://wuis.org Durbin Calls For A Return of 'Earmarks' Illinois Senate Joins Push For U.S. Constitutional Convention http://wuis.org/post/illinois-senate-joins-push-us-constitutional-convention <p>The Illinois Senate has joined a push for a national constitutional convention. <a href="http://www.wolf-pac.com/">Organizers</a> want to change the way political campaigns are financed.</p><p>The last time there was a Constitutional Convention, it was presided over by George Washington.</p> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Brian Mackey 23158 at http://wuis.org Illinois Senate Joins Push For U.S. Constitutional Convention S&P: Next Two Months 'Critical' For Illinois Finances http://wuis.org/post/sp-next-two-months-critical-illinois-finances <p>A major credit rating agency says the next two months will be "critical" for the future of Illinois' finances. The key question is whether to make a temporary tax hike permanent.</p><p>Like most of the big credit rating agencies, Standard &amp; Poor's has been bearish on Illinois finances — lowering the state's credit rating four times in recent years.</p> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 21:37:01 +0000 Brian Mackey 22672 at http://wuis.org S&P: Next Two Months 'Critical' For Illinois Finances Madigan on Voting Rights: 'We Don't Know What The Future Holds' http://wuis.org/post/madigan-voting-rights-we-dont-know-what-future-holds <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The Illinois House has approved a proposal to add protections for voting rights to the Illinois Constitution.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The measure is sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan himself.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">In explaining why he thinks it's necessary, he recalled the federal Voting Rights Act, and the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision to "modify" parts of that law.</span></p> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:10:53 +0000 Brian Mackey 22627 at http://wuis.org Madigan on Voting Rights: 'We Don't Know What The Future Holds' Pension Savings Estimate Lowered — But Is It A Big Deal? http://wuis.org/post/pension-savings-estimate-lowered-it-big-deal <p>A new <a href="http://cgfa.ilga.gov/Upload/SEGAL_Actuarial_Analysis_PA98-0599(SB1).pdf">report (PDF)</a> says Illinois' pension overhaul will save less money than advertised. Some politicians are trying to make hay out of that. But it might not be such a big deal.</p><p>The pension vote came with promises of big savings — $160 billion. Then, after it was already law, a new analysis of the bill said, well, maybe we'll save $145 billion.</p><p>This latest report puts savings even lower, at $137 billion.</p> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Brian Mackey 21714 at http://wuis.org Pension Savings Estimate Lowered — But Is It A Big Deal? Rauner, Quinn Chart Course For Conflict http://wuis.org/post/rauner-quinn-chart-course-conflict <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The election returns in yesterday’s Illinois primary were not even in before the candidates for governor started attacking each other. Republicans chose wealthy investor Bruce </span>Rauner<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> to take on Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn. Brian Mackey looks at the surprisingly close election results, and what’s ahead for the campaign.</span></p> Wed, 19 Mar 2014 09:04:34 +0000 Brian Mackey 21156 at http://wuis.org Rauner, Quinn Chart Course For Conflict Rutherford: 'I'm Looking Forward To Vindicating Myself' http://wuis.org/post/rutherford-im-looking-forward-vindicating-myself <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford basically conceded his campaign for governor earlier tonight.</p><p>His standing in the polls plummeted after a former employee filed a lawsuit accusing the treasurer of sexual harassment and coercing him to do political work.</p><p>Rutherford says the past few weeks have been the most challenging in his life.</p> Wed, 19 Mar 2014 01:07:49 +0000 Brian Mackey 21150 at http://wuis.org Rutherford: 'I'm Looking Forward To Vindicating Myself' Early Voting Declines From Previous Elections http://wuis.org/post/early-voting-declines-previous-elections <p>After months of campaigning, Illinois voters go to the polls Tuesday. But turnout for recent primary elections has been quite low.</p><p>Jim Tenuto, with the State Board of Elections, says fewer than one in four registered voters has pulled a primary ballot in recent years. And leading up to the primary, things have been calm this year, too.</p><p>"This election seems very quiet as far as phone calls and inquiries," he says. Tenuto says there's no way to predict turnout, but he says early voting is down 14 percent from the last election in 2012.</p> Tue, 18 Mar 2014 11:00:50 +0000 Brian Mackey 21077 at http://wuis.org Early Voting Declines From Previous Elections Why Are Republicans Avoiding Social Issues? http://wuis.org/post/why-are-republicans-avoiding-social-issues <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Illinois' economy has been topic A among the men seeking the Republican nomination for governor. Getting far less attention are social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. For a party whose rough primaries have often been compared to “circular firing squads,” the lack of focus on the topic is unusual. Brian Mackey looks at what’s behind the social silence.</span></p> Mon, 10 Mar 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Brian Mackey 20501 at http://wuis.org Why Are Republicans Avoiding Social Issues? Dillard's AFSCME Endorsement: Too Little, Too Late? http://wuis.org/post/dillards-afscme-endorsement-too-little-too-late <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Republican candidate for governor Kirk Dillard has picked up the endorsement of the the state's largest government-employee union. But with less than two weeks until the election, Brian Mackey asks if it's too little, too late.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Dillard's endorsement from </span>AFSCME<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> comes after front runner Bruce </span>Rauner<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> has been blanketing the state with television ads for months.</span></p> Thu, 06 Mar 2014 17:56:49 +0000 Brian Mackey 20299 at http://wuis.org Dillard's AFSCME Endorsement: Too Little, Too Late? Candidates Disagree On Government Unions http://wuis.org/post/candidates-disagree-government-unions <p>Illinois' primary election is less than two weeks away. The four men seeking the Republican nomination for governor agree on a lot of topics. But there is an issue in which one of the candidates has distinguished himself: government-employee unions. Brian Mackey takes us inside the debate over whether government workers ought to be able to negotiate over their jobs.</p><p>You don’t have to spend a lot of time listening to investor Bruce Rauner to know where he stands on public-sector unions. The disdain drips from a three word phrase he uses again and again and again:</p> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 14:25:00 +0000 Brian Mackey 20195 at http://wuis.org Candidates Disagree On Government Unions Legislation Targets Conservation Police http://wuis.org/post/legislation-targets-conservation-police <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">A group of lawmakers is challenging the broad powers enjoyed by Illinois' conservation police officers. At issue is whether the officers can operate on private land without a warrant.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Illinois law lets conservation police enter "all lands and waters" to enforce the Wildlife Code. The idea is, even if you have a huge private forest, you’re not allowed to, say, shoot a deer out of season.</span></p> Mon, 03 Mar 2014 12:00:50 +0000 Brian Mackey 20048 at http://wuis.org Legislation Targets Conservation Police Dillard Picks Up Teachers' Endorsement; Rauner Still Pouring Own Money Into Race http://wuis.org/post/dillard-picks-teachers-endorsement-rauner-still-pouring-own-money-race <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Republican gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard got the endorsement of a retired group of teachers Wednesday. But he’s still lagging front-runner Bruce Rauner, who continues to tap his </span><a href="http://wuis.org/post/rauner-made-53-million-2012" style="line-height: 1.5;">significant personal fortune</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;for his campaign.</span></p> Wed, 26 Feb 2014 19:50:39 +0000 Brian Mackey 19755 at http://wuis.org Dillard Picks Up Teachers' Endorsement; Rauner Still Pouring Own Money Into Race Audit Slams Anti-Violence Program Pushed By Quinn http://wuis.org/post/audit-slams-anti-violence-program-pushed-quinn <p>An audit Tuesday criticized an anti-violence program Governor Pat Quinn pushed during his 2010 election campaign.Republicans wasted no time in calling for an investigation.</p><p>The non-partisan audit (<a href="http://auditor.illinois.gov/Audit-Reports/Performance-Special-Multi/Performance-Audits/2014_Releases/14-IVPA-NRI-Perf-Full.pdf">PDF</a>) says the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative was "hastily implemented" and did not use standard financial safeguards.</p> Wed, 26 Feb 2014 05:50:54 +0000 Brian Mackey 19711 at http://wuis.org Audit Slams Anti-Violence Program Pushed By Quinn House Sets Spending Cap — Down $1b From Last Year http://wuis.org/post/house-sets-spending-cap-down-1b-last-year <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The Illinois House took a key first step in the state budgeting process Tuesday.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">It adopted what's called a "revenue estimate" — how much money Illinois is expected to be able to spend in the next fiscal year.</span></p> Tue, 25 Feb 2014 22:07:20 +0000 Brian Mackey 19702 at http://wuis.org House Sets Spending Cap — Down $1b From Last Year Prosecutor Backing Electronic Privacy Bill http://wuis.org/post/prosecutor-backing-electronic-privacy-bill <p>The Illinois Senate is considering limits on the ways law enforcement can use electronic tracking information. Both privacy advocates and police are in favor of the change.</p><p>With the popularity of GPS-enabled smart phones, many of us are constantly broadcasting our location. And Illinois law doesn't have much to say about how that information can and can't be used against us in court.</p><p>Privacy advocates want restrictions. And even law enforcement can be left guessing as to what's legal.</p> Tue, 25 Feb 2014 12:00:00 +0000 Brian Mackey 19710 at http://wuis.org Legislation Would Block Faculty Loans http://wuis.org/post/legislation-would-block-faculty-loans <p>Illinois lawmakers are considering whether to crack down on universities giving a certain type of interest-free loan to faculty.&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">Except it doesn’t seem to be happening in Illinois.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">State Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat from </span>Marnego<span style="line-height: 1.5;">, says the legislation is meant to prevent universities from abusing their tax-exempt status.</span></p> Mon, 24 Feb 2014 12:00:00 +0000 Brian Mackey 19709 at http://wuis.org Arizona Pension Case Could Chart Course for Illinois http://wuis.org/post/arizona-pension-case-could-chart-course-illinois <p>A court case <a href="http://www.azcentral.com/news/politics/articles/20140220arizona-pension-judges-supreme-court-ruling.html">decided in Arizona</a> Thursday could have implications for Illinois' ongoing legal battle over pensions. The <a href="http://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/0/OpinionFiles/Supreme/2014/CV-13-0005-T-AP.pdf">decision (pdf)</a>, by the Arizona Supreme Court, struck down an attempt to reduce Arizona officials' retirement benefits.</p> Fri, 21 Feb 2014 06:05:46 +0000 Brian Mackey 19402 at http://wuis.org Arizona Pension Case Could Chart Course for Illinois Illinois Legislation Targets 'Revenge Porn' http://wuis.org/post/illinois-legislation-targets-revenge-porn <p>Illinois lawmakers are considering whether to increase the penalties for a type of Internet shaming known as "<a href="http://www.onthemedia.org/tags/revenge_porn/">revenge porn</a>." It involves posting naked photos of someone on the Web without their consent.</p><p>Diana Pisone is an interior designer from Oak Park. A few years ago, she was in what she describes as an emotionally abusive relationship. Sometimes, when her husband said "do this or else," she'd let him tape her in compromising situations.</p> Thu, 20 Feb 2014 14:57:33 +0000 Brian Mackey 19339 at http://wuis.org Illinois Legislation Targets 'Revenge Porn' Should Students Get Miranda Warnings? http://wuis.org/post/should-students-get-miranda-warnings <p>Illinois lawmakers are considering what steps police should have to take before questioning kids at school.</p><p>The legislation would basically make police read kids their Miranda rights — that they can remain silent, and anything they say can be used against them in court.</p><p>It would also make police notify parents they have the opportunity to be present during questioning.</p><p>Sen. Kim Lightford, a Democrat from Maywood, calls it a "student bill of rights."</p> Thu, 20 Feb 2014 14:23:44 +0000 Brian Mackey 19338 at http://wuis.org Should Students Get Miranda Warnings? Cullerton Prods GOP Over 'Secret Plan' On Budget http://wuis.org/post/cullerton-prods-gop-over-secret-plan-budget <p>The top Democrat in the Illinois Senate on Monday went on the offensive over state spending. Senate President John Cullerton is calling out the Republicans running for governor.</p><p>Cullerton laid out the hits expected in next year's budget, including the roll back of the income tax hike and mandatory spending increases on things like personnel and healthcare for the poor. Add it up, Cullerton says, and it's a nearly $3 billion hole.</p> Mon, 17 Feb 2014 23:21:16 +0000 Brian Mackey 19170 at http://wuis.org Cullerton Prods GOP Over 'Secret Plan' On Budget Illinois To Limit Deer Hunting Permits http://wuis.org/post/illinois-limit-deer-hunting-permits <p>Efforts to reduce the number of deer in Illinois have been so successful that the state plans to reduce the number of hunting permits this year.</p><p>Illinois already met its goal of reducing the deer population statewide a few years ago. But some counties still had herds deemed problematic — causing car accidents and crop damage.</p><p>Now, in more than 40 counties, officials at the Department of Natural Resources want to see the <a href="http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/conservation/wildlife/Pages/DeerOpenHouse.aspx">number of deer go up</a> by anywhere from one to 29 percent.</p> Fri, 14 Feb 2014 03:40:13 +0000 Brian Mackey 18950 at http://wuis.org Illinois To Limit Deer Hunting Permits Hardiman Swipes Quinn For Not Debating http://wuis.org/post/hardiman-swipes-quinn-not-debating <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>Democratic candidate for governor Tio Hardiman is lashing out at incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn for refusing to debate in the run-up to the March primary. Quinn isn't saying much in response.</p><p></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">A spokeswoman for the Quinn campaign previously said there would be no debates between he and </span>Hardiman<span style="line-height: 1.5;">.</span></p><p>On Wednesday, the governor was asked why voters shouldn't be able to hear from both men face to face.</p> Thu, 13 Feb 2014 00:33:13 +0000 Brian Mackey 18870 at http://wuis.org Hardiman Swipes Quinn For Not Debating Interview: Annie Leibovitz In Springfield http://wuis.org/post/interview-annie-leibovitz-springfield <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The photographer Annie </span>Leibovitz<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> is best known for shooting celebrities. Her </span><a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/vf-hollywood/hollywood-issue-george-clooney-chiwetel-ejiofor" style="line-height: 1.5;">elaborately staged work</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;"> is a staple of Vanity Fair and Vogue magazines. But a few years ago, she set out on a more personal project — a pilgrimage to capture places and objects connected to people who've inspired her, including Abraham Lincoln.</span></p> Mon, 10 Feb 2014 09:01:45 +0000 Brian Mackey 18658 at http://wuis.org Interview: Annie Leibovitz In Springfield Cullerton Taunts GOP Over Budget Delay http://wuis.org/post/cullerton-taunts-gop-over-budget-delay <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The campaign for governor seeped into a debate in the Illinois Senate Wednesday. It let senators get into a little partisan elbowing.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Legislators were in town for just two days of session this week, and they only passed one bill. It lets </span>Gov<span style="line-height: 1.5;">. Pat Quinn delay his budget address from mid-February to the end of March. The administration says it needs the delay to continue crunching numbers.</span></p> Wed, 05 Feb 2014 22:58:30 +0000 Brian Mackey 18386 at http://wuis.org Cullerton Taunts GOP Over Budget Delay Big Revenue Drop If Income Tax Rate Falls http://wuis.org/post/big-revenue-drop-if-income-tax-rate-falls <p></p> Wed, 05 Feb 2014 10:04:50 +0000 Brian Mackey 18331 at http://wuis.org Big Revenue Drop If Income Tax Rate Falls Quinn Proposes Modest Agenda; Republicans Warn of Cost http://wuis.org/post/quinn-proposes-modest-agenda-republicans-warn-cost <p>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.</p><p>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.</p> Thu, 30 Jan 2014 12:00:00 +0000 Brian Mackey 17929 at http://wuis.org Quinn Proposes Modest Agenda; Republicans Warn of Cost