Statehouse

Pat Guinane
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Quincy’s Bayview Bridge provides both a path across the Mississippi River and a metaphoric glimpse across the globe. The cable structure bears a striking resemblance to the bridge that stretches across the Yangtze River Delta just outside Jiaxing, China, Quincy’s new sister city.

The Illinois Trade Office helped bring the two river cities together during a Quincy-focused foreign trade mission that still makes local officials ecstatic.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Don’t expect the glitz of a rock concert or the fervor of a tent revival, but the Illinois House’s Budget 2006 road show could be a top draw in coming weeks.

Why is Illinois borrowing to pay state operating expenses? Will the state employee pension system be solvent after those early retirement deals? How will the state close the budget deficit?

Illinois hasn’t been the only state to face long-term fiscal and policy crises in recent years. Remember California’s energy shutdown? Who could forget Florida’s ballot debacles? And now every state seems to be grappling with a shortage of flu vaccine.     

At noon on March 4, 1861, the moral situation of Abraham Lincoln of Illinois was abruptly transformed. 

That morning, arising in the Willard Hotel at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington, he has been a private citizen, an individual moral agent. But that afternoon, standing on the steps of the East Portico of the Capitol before 30,000 fellow citizens, he had become an oath-bound head of state.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

What might the future look like? And how can Illinois prepare to meet it? These are a couple of the questions our editors and writers will attempt to address over the coming year, the magazine’s 30th Anniversary.

Philosopher George Santayana famously said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We might say, also, that those who don’t prepare for the future are condemned to chase it.

Question & Answer: The Four Tops

Jan 1, 2005
Michael Madigan
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois Issues’ Statehouse Bureau Chief Pat Guinane sat down with the four legislative leaders to discuss some topics, new and old that will confront the 94th General Assembly.

We covered the basics — budget woes, medical malpractice, gambling expansion — and let each address his own agenda for the spring session, which begins January 12. We tailored some questions to each individual.

The interviews took place in Springfield in mid-November. We edited the transcripts for clarity.

 

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Among the time-honored traditions of the holiday season, perhaps none is as hopeful and yet as depressing as the practice of making New Year’s resolutions.

Imagine a postcard-perfect day. A tourist family ambles around the Old State Capitol Plaza in downtown Springfield. Mom and dad and two pre-teens have posed for digital images in front of the grand, eroded columns of the Old State Capitol Building. They have discovered that this old sandstone building was erected through the efforts of Lincoln and "the Long Nine," a group of Springfield legislators who finessed the movement of the state capital from its former site in Vandalia.

Retrospective Part 1: Three decades of public affairs journalism

Dec 1, 2004

This coming January, Illinois Issues will enter its fourth decade of publication. And throughout the next year we’ll celebrate that achievement by exploring the challenges Illinoisans are likely to face over the next three decades. In the final months of this year, though, we’ll look back at some of the policy concerns, political events and personalities that caught our attention, and possibly yours, over the past 30 years.

Retrospective Part 2: Three decades of public affairs journalism

Dec 1, 2004

When the first edition of Illinois Issues came off the presses in January 1975, major changes in state governance were under way. Officials were busy meeting the requirements of the 1970 state Constitution, which was designed by its framers to pull Illinois into the modern era. The first state comptroller had been sworn in, and the first auditor general. The new State Board of Elections had just supervised its first campaign season. The new State Board of Education was in place.

Retrospective Part 3: Three decades of public affairs journalism

Dec 1, 2004

Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. A perusal of back issues of this magazine yields a striking continuity in many of the policy questions state officials have wrestled with over the past 30 years. We highlight a few here. This long view offers an opportunity to get in on the beginning, then see how things turned out. In some instances, as we point out, even the best intentions can go awry. Whether public officials cover the same ground or change course, whether they move forward or fall back, the past can provide a bridge to the future.

Retrospective Part 4: Three decades of public affairs journalism

Dec 1, 2004

Illinois Issues has evolved dramatically over the past three decades. One of the more popular innovations was our annual midwinter arts issue, an effort to highlight the importance of the relationship between policy and culture. Incredibly, this is our ninth issue devoted to the arts. Yet the magazine has always sought to draw a connection between quality of life in Illinois and public support for imagination in all its forms.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Someone in China opened Illinois Issues. Someone in Mexico did the same. Add France and Israel, South Africa and Japan. In fact, over the course of the past several months, individuals in 38 countries spent some time with — the term of art now is “visited” — an electronic edition of the magazine.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Are the majority of Illinoisans indifferent to virtue? That inference might be drawn from post-election punditry that credits President George W. Bush’s re-election to the rising up of righteous voters alarmed by the nation’s decades-long slide into perdition.

Analysts pushing the vote-for-godly-living scenario point to exit polls indicating moral values was the key issue for a plurality of voters — some 22 percent — four out of five of whom marked for the president over his Democratic challenger, U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

The 6,300 citizens of Round Lake Park, a working class village near the Wisconsin border in far northern Lake County, have been affected by the recent economic slump just like everyone else in Illinois. They've watched jobs evaporate at nearby Baxter International and Motorola. They've seen fuel prices and health care costs go up. Some have put off needed repairs on their homes until finances look better.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The late state Sen. Aldo DeAngelis may have put the matter most succinctly. In the summer of 1989, he was listening none-too-patiently to criticism of the state's decision to grant Sears, Roebuck & Co. a $61 million financial incentive package, sweetened by tax breaks and development benefits, when the company threatened to move its Merchandise Group to North Carolina or Texas. Critics, we reported then, were suggesting to the Legislative Audit Commission that Sears might have snookered the state out of a good deal of public cash.

Pat Guinane
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Once again, November presents legislators with a cornucopia of issues steeped in urgency. And, as in past years, lawmakers say it will be the leftovers that fill their plates on six session days this month.

Last year, major policy overhauls spilled into the fall session as legislators rewrote death penalty and government ethics reform packages. This year, old business is again on the agenda.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

After seeing colleagues in target legislative districts roasted throughout the just-concluded campaign season for supposedly voting against their constituents’ local interests, Illinois lawmakers may be tempted to approach their work from a decidedly parochial perspective.

That’s understandable, of course. No incumbent wants to provide ammunition to a future challenger intent on playing to the long-held regional animosities that characterize Illinois politics.

If next month's election turns out the way just about everyone expects, Illinois will send one Harvard-educated African American to Washington, D.C., and another back to Maryland.

In education and race, Barack Obama and Alan Keyes share common backgrounds. But the similarities stop there with these two competitors for the state's open U.S. Senate seat.

Illinois Republicans were in a bind. Their Senate candidate had dropped out of the race, and now the party was scrambling to find a replacement or face disaster in a critical election. 

Sounds familiar, right? But this wasn't the U.S. Senate race featuring a GOP import from Maryland. Instead, it was a state Senate race in western Illinois. The Republican nominee had decided he didn't have the stomach for a tough campaign against first-term state Sen. John Sullivan of Rushville. 

By most political measuring sticks, Illinois' 8th District race between the nation's longest-serving U.S. House Republican, Philip Crane, and Democratic upstart Melissa Bean shouldn't be a close one.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

An echo from the 1964 Republican National Convention has reached Illinois. The state’s Republican right controls the party podium; voters face a clear ideological choice in the U.S. Senate race; and, though there is little doubt as to the outcome, the campaign promises to become one of the more fascinating set pieces in Illinois’ already-storied past.

It was partly a matter of chance.

Pat Guinane
WUIS/Illinois Issues

As an especially close election enters its final stage, George W. Bush and John Kerry are courting a small but increasingly significant minority: undecided voters. In most polls, they make up about 5 percent of likely voters, comparable to the single-digit gap between the two presidential candidates.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Is justice for sale in Illinois? A lot of people think so. That worries folks like Cindi Canary, and it ought to worry all of us.

“I think there’s a growing perception that’s the case,” says Canary, director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. “In 2002, people expressed a lot of concern about conflicts of interest, about the players in the campaign ending up being the players in the courtroom.”

Don’t go near guns. This is sound advice for ambitious politicians eyeing state office. 

The November election for the Illinois Supreme Court’s Fifth District will be about more than filling the high court’s sole vacancy.

To the lawyers, doctors, insurance companies and representatives of other special interests who have lined up on either side, it is perhaps the most important battle yet in the ongoing war over tort, or civil law, reform — a war in which the front lines were drawn through the rural towns and rust-belt river communities of southern Illinois long before this Supreme Court campaign began.

Peggy Boyer Long
WUIS/Illinois Issues

In late 1982, Carolyn Marvin, a professor in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, was working on her book about how people of the 19th century imagined the communications of the future. But when Illinois Issues invited her that fall to write an essay for our pages, she responded with what is still one of the more thought-provoking analyses of the communications technology that emerged in this era.

Charles N. Wheeler III
WUIS/Illinois Issues

As Labor Day approaches, and with it the traditional beginning of the fall campaign season, Illinois Republicans might be tempted to replace the party’s longtime elephant symbol with Joe Btfsplk, the Li’l Abner character always drawn with a dark cloud over his head.

Already on the wane, GOP fortunes took a real nosedive after Jack Ryan, the party’s nominee for U.S. Senate, bowed out following disclosure of embarrassing allegations of sexual high jinks contained in child custody records.

News: Election 2004

Jul 1, 2004

Protracted budget dispute produces positives for prison workers, state colleges and business

Fifty-four days and 17 special sessions after its scheduled May 31 adjournment date, the Illinois General Assembly approved a $45.5 billion state budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. 

Obituary: Ronald Reagan

Jul 1, 2004
Ronald Regan
WUIS/Illinois Issues

The conservative icon, the only native Illinoisan to become president, died June 5. He was 93.
Reagan, who was plagued by Alzheimer’s disease in his final years, energized the country with his 
man-of-the-people image and love-of-country message.

U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, whose district covers the region of Illinois where Reagan was born and raised, said it was there that Reagan “learned the common sense values and virtues that helped him reshape not only our nation, but also the world. 

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