John Cullerton

Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois House has adjourned its two-year legislative session for good, without a vote on a minimum wage hike - meaning that Representatives will not be back in Springfield before Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner takes over.  But backers of an increase are raising the possibility that the proposal isn't quite dead yet.

In Latin, "Sine Die" means “without a date," so when House Speaker Michael Madigan said "I move that we adjourn Sine Die," he meant that current makeup of the Illinois House was adjourning for good - with no intent to meet again.

Amanda Vinicky

Advocates for government transparency still have a fight ahead over the state's Freedom of Information Act. That's despite a temporary reprieve yesterday.

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, of Chicago, caught transparency advocates off guard last week, with just a handful of days remaining in the legislative session. She introduced a plan that would make it harder for members of the public to obtain government information. It would also make it harder for citizens to recover legal fees when governments illegally withhold documents.

Illinois Senate

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says lawmakers are heeding Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner's  advice and won't extend the state's temporary income tax increase.
Rauner advised lawmakers not to take up any substantive issues before he's
sworn in.
Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, says the Republican Rauner has ``a little honeymoon period'' during his first weeks in office and the Legislature is ``giving him his first victory.''

Bruce Rauner

In his victory speech Tuesday night, Bruce Rauner indicated he had called House Speaker Michael Madigan and Democratic Senate President John Cullerton.

However, a couple of reports indicated that neither Madigan nor Cullerton spoke with the Governor-Elect.   Reports in the State Journal Register and Chicago Sun Times say Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman has no record of any calls from Rauner

Not long ago, attempts to raise criminal penalties in Illinois were met with a standing joke. All such legislation had to make it through the Senate Judiciary Committee, where by informal agreement, it could only advance if it satisfied the sole criterion of the Cullerton Rule. On April 20, 2005, Sen. Edward Maloney, a Democrat from Chicago, presented House Bill 2699, a bipartisan measure that sought to raise the penalties for identity theft.

Amanda Vinicky

The underfunding of the state's pensions have grabbed headlines the past several years, and finally reached the political tipping point late last year when legislators passed an overhaul of the systems. It's a recent response to a very old problem.

It was Gov. Pat Quinn who signed the law that reduces state workers' and most public school teachers' pensions -- a controversial plan that's at the center of a lawsuit.

Did you know that Betty White was born in Illinois? This, and other tidbits about Illinois' successes, are the subject of a new website. It's intended to counteract some of the negativity that has swirled this election cycle ... and to defend lawmakers' policies. 

No, it's not a project born by the state's tourism department. 


It’s expected to be some time before the courts decide whether Illinois can trim retirement benefits for public school teachers, university workers, and state employees. But the uncertainty continues to affect the credit outlook of schools and community colleges across the state.  

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey/WUIS

The credit rating agency Moody's says Illinois is at risk of undermining progress toward better finances. It says the failure to extend current income tax rates could lead to a worsening deficit.

Moody's says because lawmakers failed to stop an automatic tax cut scheduled for the end of the year, Illinois could have to increase its backlog of unpaid bills. The state already has the lowest credit rating in the nation.

Republicans say this shows Illinois needs to further reduce costs, but Democratic Senate President John Cullerton says there isn't that much left to cut.

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey/WUIS

With the Illinois General Assembly’s spring session over, lawmakers aren’t scheduled to return to the Capitol until November. Two months of fierce debate over state spending and taxes culminated in a stalemate, so they passed a placeholder budget that will likely have to be revisited at the end of the year.

What they did — and more importantly, what they didn't do — will shape the political conversation heading into this fall’s general election.

This year began with Democrats outlining an ambitious, progressive agenda for Illinois.

John Cullerton
Illinois Senate

  Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) says he's come to an agreement on state spending with the speaker of the Illinois House. But Cullerton is leaving the door open for an income tax hike after the November election.

Gov. Pat Quinn
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield Monday to begin the final two weeks of the spring legislative session. The big question remains whether Democratic leaders can convince enough rank-and-file lawmakers ... to make a higher income tax rate permanent.

Although Gov. Pat Quinn, Senate President John Cullerton, and House Speaker Michael Madigan all support making the temporary 5-percent income tax rate permanent — Madigan in particular has had a hard time getting fellow House Democrats to go along.


How much you'll pay in state taxes next year remains an open question, even as the Illinois House Thursday approved dozens of spending bills, that rely on a permanently higher tax rate. It sets the stage for a budget battle, just weeks before legislators are set to adjourn for the summer.

The Illinois House convened at 8 o’clock Thursday morning, and spent most of a very long day on the budget. Lawmakers began with a debate on funding Illinois' public education system, giving schools a slight increase over this year.

John Cullerton
Illinois Senate

An Illinois Senate panel Wednesday approved a measure to pay tribute to one of the chamber's most distinguished former members.                                         

Barack Obama was once one of 59 state senators. He had a desk. And a chair. And someone had the foresight to put them into storage.

John Cullerton
Illinois Senate

  Illinois'  General Assembly is heading into its final stretch.  They've got a lot to resolve before their scheduled adjournment at the end of this month, including what to do about Illinois' income tax rate.  It's scheduled to drop midway through the next fiscal year, but Democrats,  including Senate President John Cullerton, want to make the current, higher rate permanent.  WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky spoke with Cullerton about it earlier this week, and about why, despite the financial fights ahead, he's proud of the state.

The Illinois House will take the lead on whether Illinois keeps its 5 percent income tax. It's scheduled to roll back at the end of this year unless legislators take action.

It's happened in the past. The Illinois Senate will pass a controversial measure -- like a tax hike -- only for it to languish in the House.

Not this time.

Senate President John Cullerton says the Senate will vote on the tax question if and only if it first passes the House.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Plenty can, and will, happen before voters go to the polls in November to chose their next governor. But a central theme of the campaign emerged Wednesday, when Gov. Pat Quinn proposed making permanent what was supposed to have been a temporary hike in the state's income tax. His Republican opponent, Bruce Rauner, favors letting the increase lapse. Their competing visions mean a lot is at stake ahead of the upcoming election, as well as for the state's future.

Following an announcement by Governor Pat Quinn in his budget speech Wednesday, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan says he plans to call a vote on making the state's tax increase permanent.

Madigan is chairman of the state Democratic party and has served as speaker for nearly 30 years.

He made the comments during an interview with Illinois Public Television following Gov. Pat Quinn's budget address in Springfield on Wednesday.

John Cullerton
Illinois Senate

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.

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.

John Cullerton
Illinois Senate

The campaign for governor seeped into a debate in the Illinois Senate Wednesday. It let senators get into a little partisan elbowing.

Legislators were in town for just two days of session this week, and they only passed one bill. It lets Gov. 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.

Republicans, however — like Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale — say Quinn has something else on his mind.

The President of the Illinois State Senate - John Cullerton - says he wants to meet with the eventual Republican nominee for governor about the state’s finances.  It comes as the state’s income and corporate tax rates are scheduled to go down in a year.

The governor’s office predicts the tax decrease will create a nearly $2 billion hole in the next budget. Cullerton - a Chicago Democrat - says he’d like to hear from the Republican nominee about the state’s budget.

A bill aimed at fixing Illinois' hundred billion pension crisis is before Gov. Pat Quinn.  
A spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton said Wednesday that the bill had been sent to Quinn.  
The move came a day after the Illinois General Assembly approved the bill that is estimated to save the state $160 billion over the next 30 years.  

The plan reduces benefits for current and retired public employees. Among other things, it also raises the retirement age on a sliding scale for some employees.  

End and Means: Crisis? Maybe Not. But the Red Flags Are Waving.

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

When Senate President John Cullerton a few weeks back said the state’s pension funding problems were not a crisis, the reaction was swift: shock and outrage that the Chicago Democrat might suggest that failure to slash public employee retirement benefits NOW would not mean the imminent demise of the Land of Lincoln.

Amanda Vinicky

  The leaders of Illinois' General Assembly have reached a deal on pensions. But now they have to persuade legislators to go along with it. The House and Senate will meet in Springfield Tuesday (12/3) to debate the measure.

It's the first time the four leaders of the House and Senate have come together on a plan dealing with the state's pensions, which are the worst-funded in the nation. Details are forthcoming, but House Speaker Michael Madigan came out of a meeting in Chicago saying it will save $160 billion.

Wikimedia Commons

House Speaker Michael Madigan says the vote on a pension deal will be ``very difficult'' when lawmakers gather for a special session next week.  
Madigan spoke to reporters Wednesday after legislative leaders said they agreed on a proposal that will help solve Illinois' $100 billion pension crisis.  

Reaction To Same Sex Marriage Bill Signing

Nov 20, 2013

Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday signed same sex marriage into law in Illinois. Here are quotes and reaction to the bill signing.  
 ``It means we are able to say that we're a family and be recognized because we are like everyone else.'' _ Jen Dickie Rothke of Chicago, who has been with her partner for 13 years. They have a son together.  
 ``We are witnessing one of the most significant demonstrations of justice in Illinois history.'' _ Illinois Senate President John Cullerton.  

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois legislators wrapped up their two-week veto session this afternoon (Nov. 7), though they may be back in Springfield before the year's end.

The General Assembly knocked one, big item off its to-do list: same-sex marriage. After intense lobbying on both sides, lawmakers on Tuesday sent the governor a measure that will allow gays and lesbians to marry.

The rest of the major issues on the General Assembly's agenda remain:

-a tax package crafted to ensure Archer Daniels Midland keeps its headquarters in Illinois is on hold

Gov. Quinn: Pension Problem Is "Extreme Emergency"

Oct 22, 2013

Gov. Pat Quinn is disputing a fellow top Democrat's statements that Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension shortfall isn't a crisis.  

Senate President John Cullerton has said that the pension shortfall is not an imminent crisis, but that finding a solution can keep the state's income taxes down.  

Ill. Supreme Court Will Hear Lawmaker Pay Dispute

Oct 16, 2013

The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to hear Gov. Pat Quinn's appeal of a ruling that his veto of money for lawmaker pay was unconstitutional.
The court issued its one-page order Wednesday without additional comment. A hearing date has not been set.  Quinn vetoed money for lawmakers' salaries in July because he said they didn't deserve to get paid until they address Illinois' nearly $100 billion pension crisis.  

Cullerton Says Pension Issue Could Bypass Committee

Oct 15, 2013
John Cullerton
Illinois Senate

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says the state's pension problem could be addressed in the fall legislative session even if a committee working on it remains split.  
The Chicago Democrat tells The Associated Press in an interview that lawmakers could bypass the committee and call a vote through another legislative route.  
An AP survey found that five of the pension committee's 10 members still had concerns with a proposed $138 billion savings plan. The Legislature cannot consider a committee proposal unless it is signed by six members.