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Illinois Legislature

Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Additional state services are getting caught in the fight between Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic legislators.  The governor announced he's preparing to suspend funding for dozens of programs because there is still no agreement on a new state budget. 

The Illinois House and Senate will reconvene in Springfield today. The unusual June session comes as majority Democrats and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner continue to clash.

Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan say they’ve had “cordial” conversations. But their public statements have a different tone.

“The middle class is suffering under the politics of Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton," Rauner said.

Madigan says he thinks it’s an “example of functioning in the extreme.”

“It doesn’t help the process," Madigan said.

Democrats in the Illinois House Thursday held a hearing over the salary for one of Gov. Bruce Rauner's top aides.

The issue is not that Education Secretary Beth Purvis is being paid $250,000 a year, but where the money is coming from. Rather than the relatively small budget for governor's staff, her salary comes out of the Department of Human Services.

The Illinois House met in Springfield Thursday for an unusual June session. Democrats took a series of votes on changes to the workers’ compensation system.

Illinois just enacted a big, bipartisan overhaul of workers’ comp a few years ago. But Gov. Bruce Rauner says costs are still too high, and that more changes are needed.

Illinois law gives political candidates five days to report campaign contributions of $1,000 or more, but it's been weeks since Gov. Bruce Rauner gave Republican lawmakers four times that, and some still haven't told the state. But they aren't breaking the law.

It was May 11 when Rauner's campaign spread $400,000 among Republican senators and representatives, but you wouldn't know that from looking at state election records. Many legislators still haven't disclosed the money.

Illinois' legislative session was supposed to be over by now. The schedule published months ago marked Sunday, May 31st as the adjournment date. Legislators typically don't return to Springfield until the fall. Instead, members of the General Assembly will be back beginning Thursday for a "continuous" summer session.

Higher education will see a funding cut next year, but Democrats want to lessen the impact compared to what the Republican governor called for.

Gov. Bruce Rauner suggested a more than 30 percent reduction. Democrats are proposing a 6.5 percent cut to universities.

Republicans voted against the Democrats' measure in committee. GOP Rep. Mark Batinick from Plainfield says the cost of doing business in Illinois is too high. That includes the business of higher education.

Illinois Democrats have begun to unveil their new state spending plan, which looks a lot like the current one. That's despite Illinois having billions of dollars less, thanks to a rollback of the income tax rate in January. Even before the details were made public, Gov. Bruce Rauner's office was out with a statement tearing into the proposal, and its architect, House Speaker Michael Madigan.

As Illinois lawmakers grapple with a budget shortfall, a measure to impose a tax on millionaires' income came up short.

Adding a surcharge to income over a million dollars to raise more money for Illinois schools was a concept Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan introduced last year, but there wasn't enough support.

Now, as Illinois faces a $6 billion budget gap, he's brought it back.

"We're simply asking those that have done well in life to help our educational system," Madigan said.

But his effort came up short, by three votes.

The Illinois Senate has voted to reduce the penalties for carrying small amounts of marijuana. The legislation would make possession a ticketable offense, rather than one requiring jail time.

The sponsor, Democratic Sen. Michael Noland, says it would save the state money.

"I'm really looking forward to taking the $29 million a year that we're going to save on prosecuting these cases and actually using it for drug treatment for harder drugs," Noland said.

Illinois lawmakers are debating whether the wealthy should take on a bigger tax burden.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan first surged the idea before last year's election, when .01-percenter Bruce Rauner was just a candidate.

By the end of this month, Illinois legislators are slated to be done with their work. That means passing a new budget. Amanda Vinicky checks in with how that's progressing -- including in the eyes of the state's new governor. 

It took legislators years of talking about Illinois' pension problem before they did much about it. There was a 2011 law that affects state employees, university professors, and public school teachers hired after that time. Then in 2013 they passed a law that reduced current workers' and retirees' benefits. Nearly immediately, workers and their unions sued, calling the law unconstitutional.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposal to cut the state budget took a spectacular fall Wednesday in the Illinois House.

The new Republican governor's plan reduces Illinois' budget by $6 billion for the next fiscal year.

That means doing away with, or spending less, on everything from healthcare for the poor, autism services and support for older foster kids.

No GOP legislator has actually introduced a bill that would precipitate those cuts. So in a surprise move, the Democratic Speaker of the House, Michael Madigan, took it upon himself.

The director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum supports the proposed separation of the museum from its current government home, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. 

But Sunny Fischer, the chair of the IHPA, says the existing structure works well as it is.

"This structure calls for IHPA to handle administrative work like accounting and human resources, while leaving the presidential library and museum free to focus on serving the public as it has done so well," Fischer said.

Cameras that collect information on license plates are thought by some to be an overreach of government. A proposal in the Illinois legislature would regulate the automatic license plate readers.

Some police officers use automated cameras that track vehicles' license plates. In Illinois, there are no regulations on them and the data collected. House Bill 3289 would impose limits, such as how long the data can be kept.

Democratic Rep. Scott Drury says the proposed regulation doesn't go far enough.

You know how your home might be in one legislative district - but your neighbors across the street might be in another?

The current map-drawing system favors the political party that’s running state government after a census.

A group called Independent Maps wants to change that.

Dennis FitzSimons used to run the Tribune Company.

Now, he's heading Independent Maps because he says the process is not fair.

"Our aim is to have our state’s redistricting process produce Illinois House and Senate districts drawn without regard to partisanship or incumbency."

Illinois could join a handful of states that allow cameras to be installed in the rooms of nursing home residents. 

Supporters say it would give families peace of mind to have electronic monitoring of the care their loved ones receive.   But there are also concerns, especially when it comes to privacy:

"Nursing homes, a lot of people tend to forget... that is their home," Hinsdale Republican Representative Patti Bellock said.

Supporters say the cameras would only be installed when the resident or family agrees.  They would also have to cover the cost. 

Illinois Eases Cuts for Some School Districts

Apr 26, 2015
Ryan Stanton / Flickr Creative Commons

Illinois lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner have agreed to restore about $97 million that had been cut from K-12 schools for the final few months of the fiscal year.  The cuts resulted from the rollback of the temporary higher income tax rate and a 2.25% across the board reduction to the state's budget. Some school districts in west central Illinois will benefit, but it might not make much difference.

The force of the Illinois legislature is behind bringing George Lucas's museum and Barack Obama's presidential library to Chicago.

A measure to ward off legal problems that could prevent the Star Wars creator's museum and the President's library from being located in Chicago first popped up Wednesday evening. 

Less than 24 hours later, it's on the way to the governor. It's supposed to take at three days at minimum for that to happen.

But this measure had support from leaders like House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Bruce Rauner froze several state grants in order to balance the budget for the current fiscal year. Now lawmakers are asking what will happen to the people who relied on those programs even after their deaths. 

One of the grants provided money to cover burial of the poor. Under the program, funeral homes provide the services and bill the state to cover part of the costs.

There's a hold-up over efforts to programs dealing with autism, drug prevention, and more from ending. It seems like advocates should be celebrating.

After Gov. Bruce Rauner says he was forced to earlier this month suddenly pull $26 million worth of state grants, the Illinois Senate used the legislative version of searching under the couch cushions for change.

Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Tuesday marked Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's 100th day in office. He sat down in the Capitol for a one-on-one interview with Illinois Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky.

Rachel Otwell

Bruce Rauner has served his first 100 days as Illinois' governor. It's the first time the private equity investor has held elected office. He came in with big ideas, and big challenges.

Illinois' budget, and Gov. Bruce Rauner's influence on it, will be examined by a special legislative committee. The powerful House Speaker announced its creation today.

It's either a sign of a contentious budget battle, or an early attempt at reaching a compromise.

Thousands of state employees are a step closer to receiving money they've been waiting on since 2011.

The Illinois House approved spending the approximately $63 million it'll take to pay workers raises they were guaranteed in their contracts, but which the state refused to hand over.

Republican Bruce Rauner has signed a temporary budget fix -- his first law since becoming governor earlier this year. 

Illinois' budget has a $1.6 billion dollar gap --- the result of a spending plan Democrats passed in the spring; some had hoped then for a post-election tax increase that never came to fruition.

Democratic Senator Heather Steans of Chicago says this will fill that gap.

The Illinois House on Tuesday voted to patch a 1.6-billion-dollar hole in the current state budget.

  The budget was supposed to get Illinois through June, but already the state's running out of money for things like court reporters and prison guards. That’s in part because Democrats passed an incomplete budget last year — not wanting to raise taxes or cut spending.

Now Democrats and Republicans — including Gov. Bruce Rauner — say they’ve found a solution. But it continues to mostly avoid that difficult choice.

State lawmakers approved a budget that relies on a higher income tax rate.

But Governor Bruce Rauner won the office on a platform of lower taxes.

Now - Illinois faces an immediate $1.6 billion dollar budget hole.

Rauner says lawmakers are talking about sweeping funds from some programs into more “essential” ones.

"But they’re arguing among themselves what’s non-essential."

Rauner has said for weeks that he’s close to resolving the issue with legislative leaders.

The Illinois Supreme Court has opened its doors for a special evening session tonight. The justices want Gov. Bruce Rauner and other legislators to meet and watch as they hear a case. 

Chief Justice Rita Garman says in a news release that she wants to give lawmakers a window into the system's essential checks and balances. 

Rauner's office announced that he will attend the session, beginning at 6:20 p.m.

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