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Illinois Legislature

College Presidents Fight Possible Funding Cuts

Mar 13, 2015
Mark and Allegra Jaroski-Biava
Flickr Creative Commons

Presidents of three public universities appeared before lawmakers to make their case on why their schools shouldn’t have to endure a 31% state funding cut, as Republican Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed.

The many years legislators spent crafting a measure to rein in the state's pension costs came to a head yesterday in 52-and-a-half minute hearing before the Illinois Supreme Court. It's now up to the seven justices whether a law that reduces employees' and retirees' benefits is constitutional.

Even before then-Gov. Pat Quinn signed the pension overhaul into law just over a year ago, everyone knew it would come to this.

Moffitt Backs Healthier Options for Travelers

Mar 10, 2015
T.J. Carson

The Illinois House recently approved a resolution that would require rest area vending machines to provide at least three healthy food options for every ten offered. It defined healthy option as snacks that are 220 calories or less.

The resolution also calls for two of the healthy options to come from Illinois.

A legal battle over union fees is brewing, between Illinois Republican governor and Democratic Attorney General.

Illinois' Attorney General says Gov. Bruce Rauner had no authority to bring a fight over union dues to federal court. She's trying to dismiss the case.

Republican Gov. Rauner is trying to get rid of so-called "fair share" dues on two fronts: he's ordered state agencies to stop collecting them, and he's suing in federal court to toss out the underlying state law that requires them.

A lawmaker says children of public university employees should not receive a tuition break.

Currently, students can get half of their tuition paid for by the state if one of their parents works at a public university. Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat from Marengo, says he wants to make college more affordable for everyone, but higher education budget cuts make the tuition waivers impossible to maintain.

The Budget Address from Bruce Rauner

Feb 18, 2015
Brian Mackey

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner delivered a half-hour budget address to state lawmakers Wednesday.

The State of the State Speech from Bruce Rauner

Feb 4, 2015

Here is the text of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s State of the State speech, delivered during the noon hour Wednesday in Springfield:

Today marks a new beginning for Illinois. 

And a new partnership between the General Assembly and the governor. 

Last November, voters made it clear they want bipartisan government. They want a government where people come together to solve problems and get things done. 

They don’t want partisan bickering, political infighting or personal conflict to get in the way of serving the needs of the families of Illinois. 

Illinois General Assembly

Counseling that tries to change a person's sexual orientation can cause depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, according to reports from psychologists.

(Scott Stantis)

This week's inauguration of Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner marks a change in leadership for lawmakers and employees at state agencies. But it's also a big transition for people who will deal with the new governor in a very different capacity over the next four years: political cartoonists.

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.

Governor Pat Quinn said he will sign into a law a measure the Illinois House and Senate rapidly approved Thursday.

Illinois lawmakers missed a Jan. 1 deadline to approve a state-run health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act. Without its own exchange, the state forfeits millions of federal dollars while leaving consumers vulnerable to paying more for insurance.

Illinois was facing dual deadlines last month when lawmakers made a final effort to create its own marketplace. The first was the looming New Year---which they blew past last week, losing out on as much as $270 million.

New Illinois Law Bans Police Ticket Quotas

Jan 6, 2015

Some police departments in Illinois could be issuing fewer tickets in the new year. 

A new state law went into effect that aims to get rid of ticket quotas.

Few police departments would ever admit to having a target number of tickets officers have to write each month. Even if there's no official policy in place, some police departments still follow a loose system.

Wiki Commons

Taking a bad breakup to the Internet could result in a felony conviction.

Rauner: Voters were Misled on Sorry State Finances

Dec 2, 2014
Brian Mackey

Illinois Governor-elect Bruce Rauner told reporters the state's finances are in terrible shape.

TSPR's Rich Egger

Illinois lawmakers are considering whether to continue allowing same-day voter registration. 

Illinois residents could have a harder time accessing government information under new legislation before the General Assembly. 

The plan, SB2799, makes it harder for people to get repaid legal costs when a government wrongfully denies access to public documents. 

At the same time, it makes it easier for governments to keep certain information off-limits.

It looks like Illinois lawmakers will allow the temporary higher income tax rate to expire January 1.

Legislators passed a law overhauling the state's retirement systems. Soaring pension debt remains a concern. The law's constitutionality is also in question. It reduces workers' and retirees' benefits, and raises the retirement age.

Not long ago, it seemed every time a different type of crime started making the news, members of the Illinois General Assembly would rush to increase the penalty for that offense. But today — with prisons stuffed beyond capacity and state finances ailing — lawmakers have begun taking a more deliberate approach. Brian Mackey reports on a criminal sentencing culture change in the Illinois General Assembly.

More Fireworks In Illinois Next Year?

Jul 7, 2014

An Illinois lawmaker is already looking to next year's Fourth of July.

State Senator Chapin Rose says he saw a lot of fireworks for sale on recent trips to Kentucky, Wisconsin and Tennessee -- and saw a lot of Illinoisans crossing the state line to buy them. The Mahomet Republican says Illinois’ ban on most consumer fireworks sales is bad for the state’s economy. 

  It's the last day of the fiscal year for the State of Illinois, which means the pressure is on for Gov. Pat Quinn to sign a new budget into law.

There's nothing on the governor's public schedule for today, but that doesn't mean he won't be busy making official the spending plan passed by his fellow Democrats in the General Assembly.

State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) and State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) feel the region won’t be helped or hurt by the state spending plan that begins July 1, 2014.

The General Assembly finished its legislative session shortly after midnight Saturday, approving a billion-dollar road construction program.

Democrats started the session with an ambitious agenda: raise the minimum wage, boost college assistance for low-income students, maybe even change Illinois' flat tax into a graduated one. In the end, none of that happened.

  The budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly does not rely on extending the 2011 income tax hike, as originally planned by Democratic leadership. Instead, it's based on state government borrowing from itself.

Instead of making the five percent income tax rate permanent or chopping away at government programs, lawmakers opted to fill a massive hole in state revenues by doing something called "interfund borrowing."

  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.

The Illinois House has voted to undo a series of cuts in the state's program of health care for the poor. Backers of the change say the cuts have come with a significant cost.

 Two years ago, Democrats and Republicans agreed to massive reductions in the Medicaid program, with savings estimated at greater than $2 billion. Now Democrats say some of those cuts are costing more than they're worth.

  The Illinois Senate has passed a plan to overhaul the way schools are funded. But the proposal has a long way to go before becoming law.

After months of negotiations and with just four days left on the General Assembly's spring calendar, the measure was deemed "ready for primetime." The plan would direct state funding to more impoverished schools and divert funding from schools in wealthier areas.

Two months after Governor Pat Quinn laid out his vision for Illinois' budget, the House of Representatives has approved a state spending plan. Quinn presented two options: make 2011's temporary tax hike permanent, or make steep cuts across government. Lawmakers considered those options and chose ... neither.

Quinn has been clear about the potential consequences of letting Illinois' income tax rate drop, as it's scheduled to do at the end of the year.

Illinois High Schools to Teach Defibrillator Use

May 27, 2014
BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

Students in Illinois will now receive training on a potentially lifesaving device as part of their high school education. One superintendent says it’s the latest in a long line of unfunded mandates.

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