Brian Mackey

Statehouse reporter

Brian Mackey covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

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State Week: Budget Battles Continue In Courts

Mar 24, 2017
State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

It seems there more budget action in Illinois courts than in the Statehouse. After getting just one paycheck since last summer, state legislators are finally getting paid.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday decided not to answer a question about whether non-profit hospitals must pay property taxes. The case began with Carle Hospital in Urbana, but has implications across Illinois.

Grand Bargain GOP
senators via ILGA.gov / Rauner by Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Ten Republican senators voted for at least one bill in the grand bargain. We asked all of them about Gov. Bruce Rauner's role in stopping them from going further.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Republican senators working with Gov. Bruce Rauner began breaking off pieces of the "grand bargain," which Democrats say undermines efforts to move toward a compromise budget. Meanwhile, what had been a bipartisan selection process for Illinois' U.S. attorneys is changing, with senior Republican Congressman John Shimkus saying he's waiting for the Trump administration to advise him on how to proceed.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner is pushing to break off a couple pieces from the Illinois Senate’s so-called grand bargain. Democrats say that’s a bad omen for the prospects of an overall budget deal.

A pair of Republican state senators want to move ahead with a plan to permanently cut Illinois pension benefits and provide a one-time cash infusion to the Chicago Public Schools. Rauner tweeted his endorsement of the idea.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has supported a lawsuit to keep state workers getting paid. But he’s refused to extend that support to a similar case brought by human service contractors.

The governor was recently asked to answer this question: Why treat state employees as superior to employees of human service providers?

RAUNER: "Inside government, those folks are working every day, and they should be paid. They should have a continuing appropriation.”

MACKEY: “But human service workers are working every day, too.”

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Chance the Rapper critiques Gov. Bruce Rauner's job performance, the governor alleges a conspiracy among Democrats, and the Appellate Court gives AFSCME a temporary reprieve in its contract fight.

Chicago’s top police officer is acknowledging a connection between violence in the city and Illinois’ failure to pass a budget.

Some Democrats have blamed the rise in shootings on the closure of anti-violence programs, as Illinois has gone more than 20 months without a real state budget.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson says he’s “sure that has some effect."

Chicago’s police superintendent was in Springfield Thursday urging state Senators to toughen penalties for gun possession. But he was met with resistance.

Chicago recorded 762 murders last year. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told legislators it’s “pivotal” that they target repeat unlawful gun possessors. The proposal would basically double the minimum sentence for the second time someone is caught with an illegal gun – from 3 to 6 years — though judges could give less time if they spell out a reason.

Lisa Madigan at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is taking her case over state employee pay to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Governor Bruce Rauner is accusing three of Illinois’ top Democrats of “coordinating” to shut down state government. All three deny the charge.

seal of the state of Illinois
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois senators are putting put Governor Bruce Rauner’s agency directors under the magnifying glass.

It’s part of the ongoing fallout from Rauner’s move to block the bipartisan "grand bargain” — meant to end Illinois’ 20-month budget stalemate.

AFSCME picket
Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

A court order revealed late last week makes it much less likely state employees will go on strike anytime soon.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As Illinois enters its 21st month without a real budget, several questions occupy observers of state government: Is the state Senate's "grand bargain" dead? If so, who killed it? Where do we go from here? And has anyone heard from the Illinois House of Representatives?

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Illinois Senate’s so-called grand bargain was put on hold Wednesday. After months of negotiations and a deadline from their own caucus leader, Senate Republicans say they aren't quite ready to vote.

Democrats blame the last-minute withdrawal on interference by Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

WUIS

The Illinois Senate made progress Tuesday on its so-called grand bargain.

Members of the Illinois Senate return to Springfield Tuesday. They’re once again expected to vote on a deal meant to end Illinois’ budget stalemate.

  

The top Republican and Democrat in the Senate have been working on this compromise since December.

It has changes to Illinois law meant to help businesses, higher income taxes meant to begin balancing the state budget, and a property tax freeze.

Christine Radogno
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Members of the Illinois Senate return to Springfield Tuesday. They’re once again expected to vote on a deal meant to end Illinois’ budget stalemate.

The top Republican and Democrat in the Senate have been working on this compromise since December.

It has changes to Illinois law meant to help businesses, higher income taxes meant to begin balancing the state budget, and a property tax freeze.

Senate Republicans have been reluctant to seal the deal — wanting to make sure they were getting enough of their priorities in exchange for their votes on a tax hike.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Members of AFSCME voted overwhelmingly to give the union's bargaining committee the power to strike. The union has been in a contract fight with Gov. Bruce Rauner for more than two years. Rauner has tried to impose his terms, saying they're a fair deal for both workers and taxpayers. Meanwhile, in the week following the governor's budget address, Rauner did little to support or defend his plan.

Roberta Lynch
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Members of AFSCME, the biggest labor union representing Illinois state workers, have taken a big step toward a possible strike.

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

In the week since his budget address, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has done little to promote his plan or defend it from attacks by Democrats. That’s a significant departure from last year.

Back then, Rauner toured the state, highlighting his call for greater funding of public schools. This year, he took a ski vacation in Utah.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

City governments across Illinois are asking to have their state funding passed along automatically. It’s the latest consequence of Illinois’ 20-month budget stalemate.

producer
Dan Stroud / FLICKR.COM/DSTROUD (CC-BY-NC)

A group of Illinois legislators are pushing an agenda intended to help farmers who sell at local markets.

Bruce Rauner
Rich Saal / The State Journal-Register/Pool

The Illinois House is set to return to Springfield this week. Meanwhile, policymakers are still puzzling through last week's budget proposal by Gov, Bruce Rauner, partly because his administration made a significant break with tradition in rolling it out.

The immediate reaction to the governor’s proposal included confusion. Typically, the top budget aides to the governor meet with their counterparts in the legislature before the big speech. But not the Rauner administration.

State Rep. Greg Harris, a Democrat from Chicago, says this is “unprecedented territory.”

Bruce Rauner
Rich Saal / The State Journal-Register (pool)

Gov. Bruce Rauner issued his third budget proposal to the General Assembly this week (potential deficit: $7.2 billion). Meanwhile, a St. Clair County judge declined to rescind his order paying state employees even without the legislative authorization required in the Illinois Constitution (cost so far: $3 billion). That, a remembrance of the late Peoria Congressman Bob Michel, and more.

Bob Michel
Bill Hardin / Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives

Longtime Peoria Congressman Bob Michel has died. He led the House Republican caucus during a more congenial era in American politics.

Michel was House Minority Leader from 1981 to ’95.

Back then, Democrats ran the House. But rather than attacking or obstructing, Michel preferred to advance conservative causes through “gentle persuasion.”

In his farewell speech in November 1994, Michel reflected on his good working relationship with his Democratic counterpart.

St. Clair County Building
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

BELLEVILLE — St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien has rejected a budget move by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. She’d asked the judge to terminate his order to pay state employees — even without a budget.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Democrats say no. Rauner says yes. Brian Mackey tries to figure out who's right.

Digging a hole. A really deep hole.
David Stillman / Flickr.com/stilldavid (CC-BY-NC)

Gov. Bruce Rauner will make his annual budget address to the Illinois General Assembly this Wednesday. It comes as state government has gone more than 19 months without a real budget.

That’s led the financial experts at credit rating agencies to issue a series of downgrades and dire assessments. The latest is called "For Illinois, Having a Plan Beats No Plan." It comes from S&P Global Ratings, where Gabriel Petek analyzes state governments.

Chris Kennedy headshot
Kennedy for Illinois

This week, a second Democrat declared his candidacy for governor. Chris Kennedy is a businessman and former chairman of the University of Illinois’ board of trustees. He’s also a member of one of the most prominent families in Democratic politics — a son of Robert Kennedy, the former Attorney General and presidential candidate, assassinated in 1968.

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