Illinois General Assembly

 Gov. Bruce Rauner will now decide whether to separate the capital city's Lincoln showplace from its parent agency.

 An Illinois lawmaker has announced he will receive treatment for recently diagnosed esophageal cancer.  

State Rep. Frank Mautino of Spring Valley says his doctor found a mass in his esophagus during a routine physical in late January. The 52-year-old Democratic lawmaker says he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer after a biopsy was conducted in February.  

Mautino told The (Ottawa) Daily Times  during a phone interview on Monday that doctors have told him the cancer is 97 percent treatable.  

Amanda Vinicky

A new class of legislators were sworn into office Wednesday, making the start of a new, two-year legislative session. It's also the official beginning of a new period in Illinois politics.

With Republican Bruce Rauner in the governor's mansion, Illinois will have a divided government for the first time in a dozen years.

Illinois lawmakers are reconvening for the final scheduled week of their fall veto session. They are expected to make a push to advance a proposal increasing the state's minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2017.  

Republican governor-elect Bruce Rauner  is scheduled to make an appearance Tuesday morning at the state Capitol.  

Gov. Pat Quinn's office says the outgoing governor has been meeting with lawmakers and gathering support for the proposal.  


The legislature easily approved a measure in the spring that will raise taxes on some of the largest Illinois businesses.  Apparently they didn't know what they were passing.  Bill Wheelhouse spoke with Paul Merrion of Crain's Chicago Business.

Peoria Public Radio

A federal jury in Chicago has convicted Illinois state Rep. Derrick Smith of bribery for taking $7,000 from a purported day care operator.

Jurors returned with their verdict Tuesday after deliberating about four hours over two days.  

At trial, prosecutors played secret recordings of the 50-year-old Chicago Democrat allegedly accepting 70 $100 bills in exchange for a letter supporting a state grant. But it was all part of an FBI sting.  

The recordings of Smith were made by a campaign worker-turned-informant.  

Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Legislature adjourned its spring session having passed a new state budget and other key measures, but leaving some business undone. Here's a look at what passed and what didn't:  
Budget: A roughly $35.7 billion budget for 2015 keeps funding flat for schools and most state agencies. Majority Democrats acknowledged the budget is ``incomplete'' because it postpones tough votes about whether to slash spending or find new revenue until after November's election.  


The Illinois Legislature has adjourned until Monday.  
The Senate wrapped up early Friday afternoon, shortly after the House completed its work for the week.  
Legislators in both chambers are scheduled to return to the Capitol on Monday for the final week of the spring session.  

WUIS Education Desk logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

The way schools are funded in Illinois has been getting a lot of attention lately.  The WUIS Education Desk presents a discussion entitled "Transforming Our Schools:  A Panel On Education Funding" held recently in Decatur.   The panel includes State Senator Andy Manar, Warrensburg-Latham Superintendent Kristen Kendrick, Decatur Public Schools Director of Business Affairs Todd Covault, Center for Tax & Budget Accountability Director Ralph Martire and moderators Brian Byers of WSOY & Bill Wheelhouse, WUIS. The event was coordinated with the Education Coalition of Macon County.

Louis Kosiba
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Editor’s note: I am forgoing my column this month to instead publish a piece by Louis Kosiba, executive director of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. Primarily because state law requires municipalities to contribute to their employees’ retirement annually, the Municipal Retirement Fund is in much better shape than other public pension funds in Illinois, where lawmakers and governors have repeatedly skipped payments or only made partial contributions. — Dana Heupel 

Dana Heupel
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly continue to search for a way to reduce the state’s nearly $97 billion public pension liability by changing the benefits of current state employees, teachers, university workers, legislators and, perhaps, judges.

End and Means: General Assembly Ends its Term Quietly

Feb 1, 2013
Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

This is the way the 97th General Assembly ended — not with a bang but a whimper. (With apologies to T.S. Eliot.)

When the outgoing legislature quit for good on January 8, its list of unfinished business was considerable, topped by its inability to agree on anything to help restore fiscal stability to the state’s retirement systems.

End and Means: Neophyte Lawmakers Face a Bunch of Tough Issues

Jan 1, 2013
Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

When the 98th Illinois General Assembly takes office in a few days, almost one out of every five lawmakers will be a newcomer with no previous legislative experience, the largest batch of rookies in more than a decade.

So many new faces — 11 in the Senate and 22 in the House — might be expected in the aftermath of the first election following redistricting, when candidates for all 177 legislative seats are running under a new map. Ten years ago, 32 newcomers were sworn into office in the wake of the 2001 remap and the 2002 election.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

As the 96th Illinois General Assembly returns to Springfield early this month for its final days, an unusually crowded agenda could await lawmakers: gambling expansion, abolition of the death penalty, approval of medical marijuana, clean coal, maybe even a vote on higher taxes.

Even if none of these high-profile issues come to a vote before the new legislature takes over at noon on January 12, the outgoing General Assembly already ranks as one of the more productive in recent memory.

Bethany Jaeger
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The tug-of-war could resume next month when the 95th General Assembly considers Gov. Rod Blagojevich's budget proposal.

Illinois voters elected 15 new lawmakers who will be sworn in when the 95th General Assembly convenes this month. They will be part of a Democrat-controlled House, Senate and executive branch, something that hasn't happened since 1941, according to the Legislative Research Unit.


Jan 1, 2007

Illinois' 95th General Assembly convenes this month with eight new faces in the House and seven in the Senate. 

Suburban Chicago districts proved key in the 2006 general elections, which granted Democrats a 66-52 majority over Republicans in the House and a politically significant 37-22 majority in the Senate. Sen. President Emil Jones Jr. gained enough Democratic seats to overturn the governor's vetoes and approve major spending without Republican support.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Health care is an essential safeguard of human life and dignity, and there is an obligation for society to ensure that every person be able to realize this right. ... Universal coverage is not a vague promise or a rhetorical preamble to legislation, but requires practical means and sufficient investment to permit everyone to obtain decent health care on a regular basis.

Cardinal Joseph Bernardin
October 1995 pastoral letter