Sam McCann

AFSCME Council 31

A dispute involving labor and a majority of lawmakers on one side, and Gov. Bruce Rauner on the other, is playing on repeat. On Monday, Rauner vetoed legislation backed by AFSCME for the second time in a year.

The legislation may sound innocuous to those not directly impacted.

It would send contract disputes (like one that's going on now) between the Illinois's largest public employees union and the state, to a binding arbitrator, who is supposed to be neutral.

But to Rauner it's "stunning, its atrocious legislation."

ICPR website

The state of Illinois may be running a deficit, but many of its leaders' campaign accounts are flush.

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform tracks their spending, and has ideas on how to improve the system.

For this episode of The Players, your look into who's who in Illinois government and politics and waht they're up to, Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky talked about campaign finance and spending on the 2016 primary with ICPR's Director, Sarah Brune.

Amanda Vinicky

Some of the primary races in early March were the most expensive in state history, but it will remain a mystery where all of the money to fund them came from. That does not appear to concern Gov.Bruce Rauner.

Creative Commons via Flickr.com/rustypenny

In the March 17 issue of Illinois Times, Springfield’s alt-weekly newspaper, Bruce Rushton looks at how some state lawmakers are spending money they'd collected to fund their political campaigns.

Searching through public documents, he found thousands of dollars spent at the Ritz-Carlton in the Cayman Islands, maintenance on luxury automobiles, and a purchase at a men’s clothing store — that last one was classified as “work attire.”

Hillary Clinton eked out a win in the state where she was born and raised, Donald Trump prevailed despite lackluster support from most of the state's GOP leaders, voters finalized who'll compete to represent Illinois in the U.S. Senate, and a couple dozen state legislative contests were decided Tuesday night in Illinois' primary election.

Macon County

Illinois' primary contest is rapidly approaching, which is why NPR Illinois is bringing you this Illinois Edition pre-primary special (which aired Wed., March 9). 

This election cycle is wild, and not just at the top of the ticket --- though Illinois has already seen presidential candidates including Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and Republicans Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Donald Trump stop by.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has already, presumably, cast his vote for one of the remaining Republicans --- he early voted in Arlington Heights a weekend in early March.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner spent his Sunday trying to give a boost to a central Illinois Republican candidate for state senate. The race is seen as a key test of Rauner's own agenda, and power within his party.

Gov. Rauner stopped by a table of folks waiting for pancakes at Charlie Parker's diner in Springfield.

He gestured to the man by his side -- Bryce Benton. He's a state trooper, and homeland security officer, Rauner told them. Vote for him on Tuesday.

"I need him in the legislature to help me battle Madigan. So. Bryce Benton for State Senate," Rauner said.

A Republican state legislative race in west-central Illinois has become a test of Governor Bruce Rauner's reach.

Back in August, the Illinois Senate took a vote on legislation Gov. Rauner called the worst he'd ever seen. The union-backed bill would allow state labor contract disputes to go to arbitration. Sen. Sam McCann was the only Republican to vote in favor of it.

He says that's the reason he's facing a primary. And not just any primary -- political action committees with ties to Rauner have spent some $2.5 million dollars against McCann.

flickr/ Zoe Hoornaert

A couple of legislative primary races are serving as stand-ins for the political struggle between the governor and Democratic leaders. 

Barack Obama outside the Old State Capitol
Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register

On a freezing February day in 2007, President Barack Obama announced his bid for the nation's highest office in front of the Old State Capitol in downtown Springfield -- the place where Abraham Lincoln gave his historic "House Divided" speech. At the time, Obama called for hope and change.

Nine years later -- to the very day -- Obama came back to Springfield. In his last year as president, he says he believes in the "politics of hope."

The themes of Obama's speech yesterday echoed what he'd said nine years ago, back when his hair hadn't yet gone gray.

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 / N

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.

Illinois now has an official state vegetable: corn.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed it into law today without fanfare.

However, he's scheduled to attend an annual sweet corn festival this evening in Chatham, a suburb of Springfield. Local elementary school students had promoted making sweet corn the state vegetable as a class project.

Back On The Bobcat Hunt

Jan 16, 2015

 A state senator is still smarting from former Governor Pat Quinn's last minute veto of a proposal to once again allow bobcat hunting in Illinois. The senator says he's going to try again now that Quinn's out of office.

In a press release issued on one of his final days as governor, Quinn's office said he vetoed the bobcat hunting measure because it violated the state's responsibility to protect wildlife.

WUIS/Lee Strubinger

A report says Illinois officials can look forward to more than a billion dollars in tax collections they hadn't been expecting this year. A group of lawmakers already has a plan for the money.

Thousands of state workers are owed an estimated 112 million dollars in back wages. Governor Pat Quinn negotiated raises with members of AFSCME back before the 2010 elections, but lawmakers never came through with the money to pay them.

Now some Republicans say this year's unexpected tax windfall ought to be used to finally make good on the contract.

ilga.gov

  The polar vortex returned to the Midwest this week, with frigid temperatures making it difficult for Illinoisans to keep their houses warm. Winter has been especially harsh for people who heat with propane, which has seen a near four-fold price increase in the wake of a regional shortage.

State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) says the cost of propane is forcing families to make difficult decisions.

Gov. Pat Quinn
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Governor Pat Quinn gives his sixth State of the State address at noon today in Springfield. It comes in an election year that has Quinn seeking a second full term as governor.

Quinn has spent a lot of time talking about the state's pension problems in recent years. Now, with a bid for re-election on the line, he's turning to more populist issues, like an increase in the minimum wage.

Here's Quinn last month: "When we put more purchasing power in the hands of hard-working people, they're not going to admire the money in the bank vault."