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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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

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

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.

John Cullerton and Christine Radogno
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Details of a massive, bipartisan compromise meant to end Illinois' budget stalemate emerged Monday in the Illinois Senate. But the plan has been put on hold.

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois legislators return to Springfield Monday. Disagreements between Democrats and Republicans have left state government without a full budget for more than 18 months — though Senate leaders are now said be trying to hammer out a compromise.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois legislators are returning to Springfield for the final few days of lame duck session. Will there be a grand compromise? And what's the deal with the Illinois Republican Party's interference in the Democratic race for speaker of the House?

Public Domain

With the dysfunction in Illinois politics, state government this year is projected to spend as much as $13 billion more than it will collect in taxes. And the situation could be getting worse.

Randy Stufflebeam
randystufflebeam.com

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has made clear his intention to seek re-election. Days before Christmas, he dropped 50-million dollars into his campaign account.

Meanwhile, Democrats are pondering who should take him on. But they are not alone.

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

A year-end overview of 2016, in which Illinois finds itself in much the same situation as it was 12 months ago, but with an even deeper budget hole and increasingly dire straits for social services and higher education.

President-elect Donald Trump, Gov. Bruce Rauner, and House Speaker Michael Madigan
Trump by Michael Vadon/Flickr, Rauner and Madigan by Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

As we get ready to welcome 2017, we thought we’d take a few minutes to listen back to another tough year in Illinois government and politics. We heard Republicans struggling to reckon with Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, Democrats and Republicans engaging in another year of war over the soul of Illinois policy, and a growing list of everyday people being crushed by the budget standoff. Here now are some of the voices that made news in 2016.

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

Illinois' stopgap spending plan expires December 31st and there is still no sign of a budget agreement.  State workers continue to be paid, but social service agencies, colleges, and universities are bracing for a chilly new year.

Bernie Schoenburg of The State Journal-Register  joins the panel.

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