Chris Mooney

Brian Mackey/WUIS

By now, most people probably have a sense that things at the Illinois Statehouse have gotten downright nasty, even if it’s not completely clear what all the fighting is about—or, how it’s playing out behind the scenes.

To reveal the parts of the fighting that the public doesn’t get to see—the squabbling and cynical gamesmanship—we wanted to pull back the curtain.

Christopher Z. Mooney

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

Illinois State Capitol Dome in clouds
Brian Mackey / WUIS - Illinois Issues

Illinois legislators will return to Springfield Tuesday, leaving them one last day to get a budget deal in order. This year's spending plan expires at midnight on June 30. Not only is there no long-term agreement, there's no sign of a provisional one either.

Bruce Rauner at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey/WUIS

A number of recall petitions from people dissatisfied with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner are circulating on social media platforms, but these efforts do not meet the legal requirements for recall in the state.


Chris Mooney is Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.  The following is an article he authored:

Prisons vastly are overcrowded. College tuition is rising fast. Roads and bridges are crumbling. Public pensions are on the verge of disaster.

Why is Illinois state government so inept? While public problems are inherently difficult to solve, Illinois seems to be particularly adrift these days.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

A state senator and candidate for higher office on Thursday sought some attention for giving up a portion of his pay. This comes after Illinois lawmakers — for the first time in years — did not vote to symbolically cut their own pay. This form of salary self-denial has become popular in Illinois, but its roots are much deeper than that.

The base salary for a member of the Illinois General Assembly is $67,836 a year.

During the Great Recession, when Illinois’ finances were tanking, lawmakers decided to give some of that back.

The name “lawmaker” implies someone who helps pass laws.  But some who serve in the role are critical of that part of the job description.  Lee Strubinger looks at why they say there are too many laws on the books. 

Every year when the Illinois General Assembly goes in to session, a regular drumbeat of new proposals are debated.  They deal with topics from crime, to regulation and even seemingly innocuous measures to honor someone or something.    

More than 600 new laws were signed in the last year alone.


When politicians talk about budgets, someone invariably brings up the idea of across the board spending cuts.   It's easy to understand.  it also plays into an inherent fear of big government.

WUIS'  Sean Crawford talked with Chris Mooney, the Director of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.   Mooney wrote about the topic as part of a new project called the Illinois Budget Policy Toolbox. 

Mooney says across the board cutting is more complicated than it seems.

  Legislators will descend on the capital city Wednesday, to hear the governor's annual state-of-the-state address. It's the first day they'll be in Springfield this year.

The General Assembly had a jam-packed 2013. It started with new members being sworn into office, and ended with new laws legalizing same-sex marriage and overhauling state pensions.

Bill Daley
The White House

Tuesday's declaration by Bill Daley that he was "officially" running for governor was one of the least surprising announcements of this political season. You could be forgiven for thinking he was already running in the Democratic primary. But Daley insists that until this week, he was just "exploring" a bid for governor.

Gov. Pat Quinn news conference
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Tuesday is the latest deadline Governor Pat Quinn has set for overhauling Illinois' pension systems.

It's part of what's become an ongoing pattern: Quinn sets a deadline, the General Assembly fails to meet it, Quinn sets another deadline, et cetera. 

We asked Brian Mackey to take a look at the phenomenon, and try to figure out what — if anything — it says about the governor.