Bruce Rauner

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Questions and fears about quality of care in nursing homes may be assuaged come January. A new law signed by the governor Friday will permit electronic monitoring.

Politicians and the party faithful flocked to the Illinois State Fair this week, with both Democrats and Republicans defining the continuing budget impasse as an epic struggle.  However, the struggle remains static, with no work toward an agreement.  Becky Schlikerman of the Chicago Sun Times joins the panel.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois Democrats say their party is strong and more energized than ever, thanks to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

The day after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner accused them of holding up progress, hundreds of Democrats packed into a ballroom rose to their feet when Senate President John Cullerton said "We are willing to work with Gov. Rauner, but we don't work for Gov. Rauner, okay?"

Democrats were in Springfield for their annual state fair gathering.

Gov. Rauner Wants Changes In Higher Education

Aug 20, 2015

Governor Bruce Rauner’s budget proposal calls for cutting state higher education funding by nearly a third. But at the Illinois State Fair this week, Rauner turned back to his long-term goal of raising state funding for state universities.

In an interview on WILL’s Closing Market Report, the Republican governor repeated the argument he made in his gubernatorial campaign last year --- that an increase in funding should come with a change in how that funding is spent.

Amanda Vinicky

Gov. Bruce Rauner's November election victory landed his party a summer prize Illinois Republicans haven't had in dozen years --- the pride of having Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair. But Rauner's day of political revelry Wednesday ended with a stinging defeat.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday rebuked Governor Bruce Rauner in his labor negotiations with the state's biggest government-employee union.

After months of negotiations have failed to reach an agreement, unions want legislation that would let an arbitrator resolve intractable disputes.

Rauner vetoed it, saying it would tie his hands. He also promised not to lock workers out.

But Sen. Don Harmon, a Democrat from Oak Park, says the real fear is that Rauner will demand workers accept "completely unreasonable" terms.

Randy Dunn
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Among the casualties of the Illinois budget impasse are grants that help low-income students pay for college. On Wednesday, Democrats in the state Senate voted to address that.

Thousands of students take advantage of the so-called MAP grants to attend everything from community colleges to the U. of I.

Randy Dunn, the president of Southern Illinois University, says two-thirds of students at the Carbondale campus get help from the program.

"The average award for our students is significant," Dunn told a Senate committee. "This is not something that's chicken feed."

Amanda Vinicky

A budget impasse lingers, but hasn't interrupted politicians' big rallies at the Illinois State Fair. Democrats will have their chance tomorrow but today was Republicans' chance.

Republicans are still relishing capturing the governor's office for the first time in a dozen years.

"Are you guys ready? I don't see you guys standing! We need to be lit for this," Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti said, as she introduced Gov. Bruce Rauner, prompting the crowd to rise to their feet.

Univ. of Illinois

It’s been nearly a week since Phyllis Wise abruptly stepped down as chancellor of the University of Illinois’ Urbana campus. She cited "external issues" that have “distracted us from the important tasks at hand.”

The day after Wise resigned, the U of I released hundreds of emails in response to Freedom of Information requests. Many of the emails were sent to and from Wise's personal email accounts. They revealed that she also encouraged others to use their private emails, in an effort to skirt FOIA law.

Should the Illinois State Fair raise more private money?

 At least a dozen Republicans are chasing the party's presidential nomination. But which of them will get a boost from Illinois' new, and privately wealthy, Republican governor?

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Governor Bruce Rauner officially opened the Illinois State Fair Friday morning. But there is still no state budget in place, and Rauner would not say how Illinois is paying for the fair.

There were all the trappings of the usual fair grand opening: politicians, a Lincoln impersonator, a ribbon cutting.

But an impasse between Rauner, a Republican, and Democratic majorities in the legislature means Illinois has no legal authority to pay for the fair. Rauner, however, refused to answer questions about that — or anything else.

Despite having no budget or actual spending authority in place, most state spending is going ahead anyway.  John O'Connor of the Associated Press joins the panel this week.

Illinois Senate Democrats

Updated estimates show that Illinois is on the trajectory to spend $2 billion more than the spending plan Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed because it's out of balance, even though it has gone 44 days without a budget.

Illinois has been without a budget since the start of July. And yet money's steadily flowing from state coffers, thanks to court orders, decrees, and other arrangements.

"We can't even close down the state right," said Republican Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights.

Illinois' leaders have yet to present a plan for a balanced budget. The longer they wait, the harder the task will be. 

Food-a-rama at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Top political leaders say Illinois' lack of a budget won't put a dent in plans for the upcoming Illinois State Fair.

The fair in Springfield is set to kick off with the twilight parade on Thurs., Aug 13. When asked if there's a chance a budget will be in place by then, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan responded by saying it's possible.

"If everybody’s reasonable, and everybody functions in moderation and not in the extreme," he said last week. "And since we’re in continuous session..."

Amanda Vinicky

Many Chicago residents recently received a piece of mail criticizing their state legislator. That's a routine part of politics, but these flyers are getting special attention from one of Illinois' top politicians.

As Chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois, House Speaker Michael Madigan's organization frequently sends campaign brochures attacking Republicans. This time -- it's Madigan, and his fellow Democrats, who are the targets.

"So these are mailers that came into my district," Madigan said at a recent conference, as he held them up.

Bruce Rauner

  Illinois' legislature and the governor remain at a standoff, as Illinois enters its seventh week without a budget. 

The budget dispute isn't really about the budget, per say. Rather, Gov. Bruce Rauner says that Illinois needs structural changes; only then will he talk about revenue to prevent massive cuts. Democrats refuse to go along with Rauner's demands, as they say it'll hurt the middle class.

On Rauner's wish-list:

-helping businesses by easing up on when a firm has to pay if a worker is injured, and restrictions on civil lawsuits

Five weeks into the new fiscal year, and Illinois still has no spending plan in place.  While many state functions continue to shuffle along, many services and businesses are folding.   And there seems to be no end in sight.  Chris Mooney, Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois, joins the panel.


What will happen if Illinois' largest public employees union and Governor Bruce Rauner can't reach new contract terms? That may depend on the outcome of another battle in Springfield -- this one between Rauner and legislators.

In the past, both sides have had some sort of trump card at their disposal if negotiations broke down: unions members could strike, a governor could "lock" them out. A measure approved by the General Assembly would take away those options, leaving it to an arbitrator.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

A bipartisan legislative commission has rejected Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposal to close two state facilities.  

On a pair of 7-2 votes, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability issued non-binding decisions against shuttering the Illinois State Museum and the Department of Corrections' Hardin County Work Camp in southern Illinois.

Al Riddley
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Non-profit groups say the ongoing fight over the state budget could lead to tragic consequences for thousands of Illinoisans.

The agencies have state contracts for everything from taking care of people with disabilities to placing children in foster care. But the partisan fight over state spending means they're not being paid.

Al Riddley, on the board of the Illinois Partners for Human Service, says the groups are being led on a "death march."

"Perhaps it's time to change our state motto from 'Land of Lincoln' to 'We Don't Care,'" Riddley says.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

A panel of lawmakers will weigh in Wednesday on the planned closure of two state facilities.  But the final decision rests with the governor. 

The month of July has come and gone and there is still no agreement between the Legislature and Governor Rauner on a state budget for the current fiscal year.  Kent Redfield, emeritus professor of Political Science at UIS, joins the panel this week.

Christopher Z. Mooney

You may be asking: How did Illinois get to this point?

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Governor Bruce Rauner and Illinois’ biggest state-employee union have agreed to a two-month contract extension.

The union, known as AFSCME, represents 38,000 men and women — a significant share of the state workforce.

Its contract expired on June 30, but the latest "tolling agreement" will keep workers on the job through at least the end of September.


The state fair in Springfield and the Du Quoin State Fair are scheduled to begin in August. But if there is no state budget in place, it's unclear how entertainment and vendors would be paid.


Gov. Bruce Rauner is moving ahead with plans to hold the Illinois State Fair next month, despite the fact that there is no budget in place to pay for it.  

House Speaker Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Amid Illinois' ongoing budget battle, there was a rare moment of bipartisanship on Tuesday. Members of the Illinois House have voted to block a pay raise for themselves.

Lawmakers are scheduled to get an automatic pay hike this year, and Gov. Bruce Rauner has been relentlessly criticizing Democrats for not voting to block it.

House Speaker Michael Madigan — after recently refusing to talk about it — sponsored the legislation to prevent the pay raise. But he says it's still just another of Rauner's "diversionary" issue.

A state lawmaker who represents a large number of government workers says he remains against efforts to bring in an outsider to help negotiate a new union contract.  

Republican house member Tim Butler of Springfield says the matter should be decided in talks between the Rauner Administration and the union known as AFSCME.  He voted this spring against allowing an independent arbitrator to get involved: