State Week

Fridays at 12:30-1 PM, 7:30-8 PM, Saturdays 6:30-7 AM

State Week has been produced by NPR Illinois since January 1975, created by original WSSR News Director Rich Bradley when the station went on the air. It is the longest running public affairs program on NPR Illinois and was patterned after the popular PBS show Washington Week in Review.

Sean Crawford moderates the program.  He is joined by a regular panel consisting of Charlie Wheeler, Director of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at UIS, NPR Illinois Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky, and NPR Illinois reporter Brian Mackey. This regular panel is joined by one or two guest journalists each week to analyze and comment on the top news stories of the week in Illinois state government and politics.

State Week is made available to all public radio stations in Illinois and is also available as a podcast.

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  • Listen on-demand below.

With just days remaining before the scheduled end of the spring legislative session, Democrats and Republicans appear far apart on a state budget and the governor's agenda. Will Illinois enter a second year without a spending plan?

Thousands of union members rallied against Gov. Bruce Rauner's pro-business, anti-union agenda, and the legislative leaders met with the governor. But is Illinois any closer to ending the historic budget standoff? (Spoiler alert: No.)

Legislators and top Rauner administration officials are acknowledging what it’ll take to solve Illinois’ budget mess: billions of dollars in spending cuts and tax hikes. But they're also insisting it's just a possibility, not a bill, and certainly not a deal.

In other news, a familiar name is suing over the "Independent Maps" ballot initiative.

A push to change Illinois' flat income tax into a graduated tax died on the vine this week. And Illinois Republicans have some difficult decisions to make now that Donald Trump appears to have won the party's presidential nomination.

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert was sentenced in a hush-money scandal and admitted to molesting children; Governor Bruce Rauner said he hopes for a 2-year budget deal with legislative leaders by the end of May; and the governor insists contact negotiations with AFSCME are at an impass.  Kerry Lester of the Daily Herald joins the panel.

As one statehouse reporter put it, the main headline from this week is "Something finally happens in Springfield." Democrats and Republicans came together to pass stop-gap funding for higher education in Illinois.

After months without meeting, the governor and legislative leaders gathered behind closed doors this week, with apparently no progress toward a budget agreement. Speculation continues the Attorney General might go to court to stop state workers from being paid without an appropriation. Some believe such a move could force the governor and leaders to reach a deal. Others aren't so sure.  The State Journal-Register's Doug Finke joins the panel.

This week, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno declared, "We need change!"  However, there is still no agreement among state lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner on what form that change should take as Illinois continues to go without a spending plan.  Illinois Issues' Jamey Dunn and The State Journal-Register's Bernie Schoenburg join the panel.

As Chicago State University moves closer to closing, Gov. Bruce Rauner this week said he's “very upset" about Illinois not having a budget. But didn't he once outline just this sort of plan as a way to advance his agenda of hobbling public employee unions? Meanwhile, several things happening in and around the U.S. Supreme Court are reverberating in Illinois.

A pair of Illinois Supreme Court rulings this week are a mixed bag for government employees. The justices struck down a law intended to reduce benefits for Chicago city employees, but also found that AFSCME members cannot be paid bargained-for raises unless the General Assembly specifically authorizes the spending.

Several of the races in this week's primary election were widely seen as a referendum on Gov. Bruce Rauner. In the two highest-profile races, the governor neither protected an ally nor vanquished a foe.

With the election arriving next Tuesday, a handful of candidates and their "dark money" supporters were spending millions of dollars on just a handful of campaigns. Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner once again went on the attack against Democrats, and university presidents began making a more forceful case for state funding.

It’s been 247 days since the state of Illinois had a budget. In that time, the nation of Iran struck a deal with America to limit its nuclear program and the United States reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba. But in Springfield there is still no peace.

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.

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.

Dick Durbin, Barack Obama, Bruce Rauner, Jim Langfelder
Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register

President Barack Obama returned to Springfield to address the Illinois General Assembly this week. He's renewing the central argument of his first campaign for president: that most Americans want a less bitter, less divisive form of politics. Did his message resonate with Illinois lawmakers?

With the state budget impasse ongoing, lack of money continues to affect Illinois colleges and universities as well as Chicago Public Schools.  Chris Mooney, director of the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, joins the panel.

Governor Bruce Rauner gave his second annual State of the State address before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly this week.  Doug Finke of the State Journal-Register joins the panel.

Talks on fixing the state pension debt resumed, but Governor Bruce Rauner and Senate President John Cullerton can't seem to agree on what they agreed to and Rauner declared contract negotiations with AFSCME at an impasse.  Also this week, the governor announced his support for the state taking over the entire Chicago Public Schools system.  Meanwhile, Illinois higher education continues to go unfunded.  WBEZ's Tony Arnold joins the panel.

  Governor Bruce Rauner has been in office one year this week and gave a series of short interviews in Springfield this week.  And with more than 100 people shot in Chicago in the just the first two weeks of 2016, the governor says the solution to the violence is passing his pro-business, anti-union agenda.
Gatehouse Media's Doug Finke joins the panel.

Bill Wheelhouse is retiring after over 20 years at NPR Illinois. 

Governor Bruce Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel escalated their war of words this week, with Rauner saying that before he'll help the Chicago public schools he expects Emanuel to agree to his pro-business agenda.  Mike Riopell, political editor for the Daily Herald, joins the panel.

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.

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.

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' 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.

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.

After more than six months, Illinois' governor met with the four top legislative leaders to discuss the state's budget impasse. No progress was made, but all agreed to meet again someday soon. Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times joins the panel.

The release of a police video documenting the fatal shooting of a black teen by a white Chicago police officer – more than a year after the incident – has led to murder charges, protests, accusations of a cover-up, and questions about political interference with the original investigation.  Also, Monday marks the candidate petition filing deadline for the March primary elections.  WBEZ's Tony Arnold joins the panel this week.

Washington University in St. Louis

There are actions governors can take about their concerns over Syrian refugees, but keeping them out of their states — even temporarily — is not one.  So says the emeritus professor whose textbook on immigration is used by about 185 law schools in the country.

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