Statehouse

Mendoza campaign

Democrats prevailed in statewide races, but couldn't hold on to seats in southern Illinois. Meanwhile, suburban Republicans may hold less sway in the party's legislative caucus.

Trump and Rauner
Trump by Michael Vadon / Flickr, Rauner by Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

He's a Republican. But Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner avoided talking about Donald Trump throughout the presidential campaign, but he opened up some Wednesday.

Rauner still didn't actually say Trump's name; he left it at "President-Elect" and "new administration." But Rauner did volunteer that he and Trump spoke by phone last Friday.

AFSCME Council 31

The Illinois Labor Relations Board has declared contract negotiations between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration and the state's largest public-employees union at an impasse.

The governor and Illinois' top leaders are set to meet Tuesday morning, after Republicans on Monday accused Democrats of a dereliction of duty.

It's been one year, four months and 15 days since the state of Illinois had a regular budget.

If you're wondering why Illinois' top politicians haven't been able to do something as important as passing a budget, here's a clue: They have a hard time even agreeing on when to meet.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office made a big deal of wanting a meeting Monday with the legislative leaders.

flickr/Domas Mituzas

If you missed it last month, the state marked an anniversary.  4 years since the launch of video gambling.  The machines you see in bars, restaurants, truck stops and other places have permeated the landscape since that time.  Springfield leads the state with the most machines, Decatur is also near the top. 

Overall, Illinois now has more video gambling terminals than Nevada.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois lawmakers will meet in Springfield this week for the first time since the election, but things are already off to a rough start.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and his allies made a big public push last week about his wanting to meet with the General Assembly's for top leaders ... including Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Mind you, Rauner and his allies spent months making a much bigger public push -- in hundreds of campaign ads -- to paint Madigan as a greedy, corrupt insider.

Sunday evening, Madigan's spokesman issued a short statement.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has released his 2015 tax

returns showing he earned nearly $200 million and paid about $50 million in federal and state income taxes.

The former venture capitalist also released details Friday about charitable contributions from his family's foundation that totaled more than $11.6 million last year.

Rauner's adjustable gross income in 2015 was $187.6 million. Almost $170 million came from investments. 

He paid $43.3 million in federal taxes and $6.9 million in state taxes.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Republicans made gains in the Illinois House and Senate, but Democrats cleaned up in statewide races. Meanwhile, Illinois government is still without a balanced budget — does the election change anything?

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois legislators will only get a brief post-election respite from politics; a week from Wednesday they’ll be back in Springfield to begin the veto session.The current makeup of the General Assembly will remain in place for that, but come the new year -- when the Capitol welcomes a new set of lawmakers elected Tuesday night -- the balance of power will shift, slightly.

Election Day is like the Super Bowl of politics.

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Democrats have won the state office of comptroller away from Republicans.

Susana Mendoza, a Democrat from Chicago, won a special election for a two-year term.

Mendoza defeated incumbent Leslie Munger, who was appointed after Judy Baar Topinka died in office.

The campaign became a proxy battle in the war between Democrats and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who personally spent millions on the race.

Amanda Vinicky

Election day is finally here, and the polls are open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Remember, even if you're not registered to vote, you can still do that Tuesday. Here's a rundown of what's on the ballot.

Illinois primary voters' top picks for president on both sides of the aisle -- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump -- made it to the top of the ballot.

Whoever wins the state will score a sizable 20 Electoral College votes on the quest to 270.

I Voted sticker roll
Wikimedia

Illinois makes it easier than other states to register to vote, but do residents take advantage of the state's laws?

Illinois residents who don't have much of an excuse for not casting a ballot.

Wallet Hub's Jill Gonzalez looked at whether states offer early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, online voter registration and election-day registration.

"Illinois is 4 for 4 for each of those voter accessibility policies," Gonzalez said. That puts Illinois at the top of states when it comes to voter accessibility.

Amanda Vinicky
Network Knowledge

Host Amanda Vinicky and guests Kent Redfield (UIS) and Charlie Wheeler (UIS) discuss what you need to know before you vote.

CapitolView is a production of WSEC-TV/PBS Springfield, Network Knowledge.

Amanda Vinicky

There wasn't supposed to be an election for a statewide constitutional officer this year, but Democrats essentially foisted one, following the sudden death of Republican Judy Baar Topinka. That's led to an expensive, competitive race for comptroller this year --- a race that could show who's winning the war of public opinion in Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan's battle for Illinois' future.

Who knows what would have happened had Democrats held onto the governor's office in 2014?

When the Cubs celebrated with a parade Friday in Chicago, it was on World Champion Chicago Cubs Day in Illinois. Gov. Bruce Rauner issued a proclamation making the designation official.

The Cubs winning the World Series is bigger than baseball" Rauner said in a statement. "This is a celebration for past and present fans along with all the Cubs' legends who never gave up hope.”

The team's victory also means that some of Illinois' top politicians are due for some brews.

An election season of unprecedented spending on negative advertising is coming to an end. How does it rank? And what does it mean for the future?

IGPA

Illinois spent last fiscal year without a budget. During that time, billions of dollars were cut from core services. The state also ran up billions of dollars in debt. A new report looks at how most of this was done without going through the normal Democratic process. 

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U.S. Senator Mark Kirk says he apologized, and that apology was accepted, so it's time to move on from a controversial comment he made at last week's debate minimizing his opponent's family legacy of military service. The Republican gave an interview to public radio on Wednesday; click below to listen to the bulk of it.

Jenna Dooley/Ill Public Radio

Illinois legislators are being graded on whether they've helped or hurt people with disabilities. The scorecard is believed to be the first of its kind, and comes from an organization led by concerned parents.

It would seem that you'd be hard-pressed to find much that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan have in common.

But on this issue, they both did pretty poorly, with a score of 50-percent.

Illinois has taken steps to prevent 260,000 residents from losing government food assistance. That gives the state a year to prepare these individuals for the job market.

Amanda Vinicky
Network Knowledge

Host Amanda Vinicky and guests Andy Maloney (Chicago Daily Law Bulletin) and Dave Dahl (WTAX) discuss Sen. Mark Kirk and Tammy Duckworth's debate as well as the comptroller debate and other election news.

CapitolView is a production of WSEC-TV/PBS Springfield, Network Knowledge.

pile of $20 bills
D Borman / flickr

Illinois' already strained bank account will be stretched by another $4.6 billion because of action taken by the state government's largest pension fund.

Screencap of debate stream

Illinois Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk has apologized for mocking his challenger Thursday night during a Springfield debate, and Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth accepted.

A relatively small crowd was there to hear it live, but thanks to social media, Kirk's gaffe was quickly heard (and criticized) round the nation.

In talking about the cost of war, Duckworth brought up that her family's military service goes back to the American Revolution.

Sen. Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth participated in their first televised presidential debate this week. Kirk made a comment about his opponent's ethnic heritage for which he later felt compelled to apologize. We'll ask Charlie Wheeler why voters should care about the special election for Illinois comptroller. And Sen. Dick Durbin might mean it when he says he isn't interested in taking on Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2018.

Kirk and Duckworth arriving at the Illinois State Fair
Amanda Vinicky (Kirk); Brian Mackey (Duckworth) / NPR Illinois

Illinois voters aren't getting many chances to see their candidates for U.S. Senate face off. Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth and the incumbent -- Republican Mark Kirk -- met Thursday in Springfield. It was the first of only two televised debates, and their only downstate match-up.

Illinois Supreme Court Building
Illinois Supreme Court

The Illinois Supreme Court is committing to a redesign of pretrial justice procedures, the system in place to deal with individuals from the time they're arrested, until their case is resolved.

The state is working with the national Pretrial Justice Institute, which is trying to get 20 states on board. Its CEO, Cherise Fanno Burdeen, says Illinois is the second.

flickr/ DonkeyHotey

The presidential race is capturing most voters' attention. But here in Illinois, there's record-breaking spending going into races for the General Assembly. Hanging in the balance is the state of Illinois, or at least its budget, anyway.

Teena Francois-Blue
Screenshot used with permission of the subject. / Facebook Live

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Wednesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner did his part with a live video session on Facebook from the Simmons Cancer Institute in Springfield.

Rauner, a Republican, touted a new law he signed this summer that requires insurance companies and Medicaid to cover 3-D mammograms. He congratulated a nurse practitoner, who stood alongside him to answer commenters' questions, for celebrating her one-year anniversary of being cancer free.

Amanda Vinicky

With Illinois finances stretched thin, the role of Illinois Comptroller has taken on an elevated importance. There haven't been many chances for voters to compare the candidates vying for the job face-to-face, but the top candidates squared off Tuesday night in an interview on Chicago's WTTW-TV.

The comptroller is in charge of cutting the state's checks.

That's more complicated than it may sound. After all, Illinois doesn't have enough money to actually PAY all of its bills.

Kirk and Duckworth arriving at the Illinois State Fair
Amanda Vinicky (Kirk); Brian Mackey (Duckworth) / NPR Illinois

Our two-part series looks at where Sen. Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth are on a few key issues, and why the politics of 2016 mean those policy positions may not have much effect on the outcome.

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