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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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.

produce
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.

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

The Illinois Senate's "grand bargain" stumbles, Gov. Bruce Rauner fights to allow Illinois to keep going without a full budget, and Illinois businessman Chris Kennedy enters the race for governor.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Legislation to keep Illinois government functioning without a full budget stalled Thursday. Democrats and Republicans have dueling proposals to keep paychecks flowing to state employees.

The Democratic plan would pay state workers through the end of the budget year — June 30th.

The Republicans responded with a plan to pay state workers forever, even if Illinois never adopts a full budget.

Shortly after that, Gov. Bruce Rauner came out with a video saying how terrible it was that Democrats put an end date on their bill.

Capitol in fog
Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

A group of social service organizations are suing the state of Illinois over the budget impasse. They were contracted to do work on behalf of Illinois government — and now say they ought to be paid.

Illinois signs contracts with the organizations to take care of the state’s neediest people — like AIDS patients, drug addicts, and the homeless.

John Cullerton and Christine Radogno
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Illinois Senate began voting Wednesday on what’s been called a “grand bargain” to end the state’s 19-month budget fight. But the supposedly bipartisan agreement got zero Republican votes.

State Sen. Heather Steans
SEN. HEATHER STEANS' OFFICE

The Illinois Senate is still negotiating a compromise to finally rectify the state's historic failure to enact a budget. The proposal has changed a lot in the month since it was introduced. 

John Cullerton headshot
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Illinois Senate could begin voting Tuesday on a bipartisan compromise meant to end the state's budget standoff.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Lawmakers introduced competing plans to make sure state employees can remain on the job even if there's no end to the state budget standoff. Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner is refusing to say whether he approves of the incipient budget compromise being worked out in the state Senate. And what does it say about the future of the downstate economy that Caterpillar Inc. is moving several hundred top jobs from Peoria to the Chicago area?

Dick Durbin
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin on Wednesday voted against two of President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees.

In the morning, Durbin and all Democrats on the Judiciary Committee voted against attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions.

It came days after Trump fired the acting attorney general for refusing to enforce the president’s order on refugees and immigration.

"This is a constitutional moment, and a challenge to us to envision what the next attorney general will be facing in the remaining three years and 11 months with this president," Durbin said.

Peter Roskam and Darin LaHood
illustration / original photos U.S. Government

This story has been updated.

Illinois’ Congressional delegation is overwhelmingly opposed to President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration.

All 13 of Illinois' Congressional Democrats have come out against the president’s temporary ban on refugees and certain Muslim-country immigrants.

The Republican members of the delegation have been slower to respond. They’re also divided.

Flickr user spDuchamp / Creative Commons

A report says the outlook for the Illinois economy is bleak.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is asking a St. Clair County judge to stop state employees from getting paid without a legal state budget. Could the move force a resolution of Illinois' 19-month budget impasse?

Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner gave his annual State of the State address. And Rauner, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and President Donald Trump engaged in a multimedia war of words.

John Cullerton and Christine Radogno
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois Senate left Springfield Thursday without voting on a bipartisan effort to end Illinois' budget stalemate. But hope springs eternal.

The so-called grand bargain — devised earlier this month by the Senate's top leadership — was like a chili recipe where the cooks keep swapping ingredients. The latest version would increase the income tax by one-and-a-quarter percentage points, and further decrease government pensions.

It would also fully fund Illinois government for the first time since 2015.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Illinois Information Service

Gov. Bruce Rauner struck an upbeat tone in his third State of the State address Wednesday.

He also tried to project an image of someone willing to compromise — but in such a way that Democrats say he glossed over his own role in the crisis that’s hobbling Illinois government.

John Cullerton, Bruce Rauner and Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois Senate is this week expected to consider a bipartisan compromise meant to break the 18-month budget stalemate.

The framework shows there are many areas in which Democrats and Republicans can come to an agreement. But it still leaves one big philosophical question unanswered.

That question is whether a governor can say: "Pass my agenda, and only then will I negotiate on a budget."

Democrats, like state Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago, have resisted that ultimatum.

handgun
Wikimedia Commons

After last year’s historic violence in parts of Chicago, a group of state legislators are once again pushing for tougher gun possession laws.

The proposal would ratchet up minimum prison sentences for people who illegally carry a gun.

The ACLU of Illinois opposes the legislation in part because it says it would target the act of carrying a gun, not shooting it.

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

This week saw the inauguration of a new session at the Statehouse - the 100th General Assembly.  Will this new term be able to solve Illinois' long-standing budget crisis?  Chris Mooney, Director of the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, and Lee Enterprises' Dan Petrella join the panel.

Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Illinois Supreme Court considered a case Thursday that asks whether not-for-profit hospitals have to pay property taxes.

Michael Madigan being sworn in at UIS
Ted Schurter / State Journal-Register (Pool Photo)

Michael Madigan was re-elected speaker of the House Wednesday in Springfield. It was the opening day of the 100th General Assembly, and Madigan used the occasion to call for a focus on economic growth.

Illinois Senate
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois state legislators opened a new two-year session of the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday. Amid the ceremonies and celebrations, the focus remains on the political stalemate that's left Illinois without a budget for more than 18 months.

Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

State Rep. Michael Madigan on Wednesday will seek his 17th term as speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. He's not expected to have any trouble winning.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and his fellow Republicans have spent years vilifying Madigan. But lately the party has gone further, trying to sway House Democrats away from re-electing Madigan as their leader.

Republican interference in the House Democratic leadership election is not just a departure from political norms. It's also a huge departure from Illinois history.

Matt Jones, Peter Baroni, Jehan Gordon-Booth
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

As Chicago confronts an increasing murder rate, the Illinois legislature is trying to take on the root causes of violence in some of the state's most traumatized communities.

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