Brian Mackey

Reporter - Statehouse

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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The Illinois Senate has adjourned for the day without taking action on remaining items from the "grand bargain" budget compromise.

Democrats who run the chamber had said they might push forward Thursday with remaining items after approving several parts of the compromise on Wednesday.

But what remains are some of the tougher measures. One would increase the personal income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent and the corporate rate from 5.25 percent to 7 percent.

Jason Barickman and other members of the Illinois Senate Republican cuacus.
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Senate Democrats on Wednesday passed part of a budget plan for state government.

If it also passes the House and is signed into law, it would be the first real budget Illinois has had since 20-15. But that’s a big “if.”

Heather Steans
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Both the Illinois House and Senate return to work in Springfield today. Just over two weeks remain before the annual legislative session is scheduled to end.

Senate Democrats tried — and failed — to force votes on the so-called grand bargain. What are the prospects for a budget deal before the Illinois General Assembly's scheduled end-of-session on May 31?

Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner was booed when he appeared at the commencement ceremony for Chicago State University — the public university arguably hit hardest by the 22-month stalemate over taxes and spending in Illinois government. 

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

There was another setback Wednesday for efforts to end Illinois' budget stalemate.

Senate Democrats attempted a series of test votes on items in the so-called “grand bargain.” But Republicans refused to go along, saying more negotiation is needed to reach a deal they can support.

Toi Hutchinson
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A controversial abortion measure was approved Wednesday in the Illinois Senate. It would expand government funding of the procedure.

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

A nonpartisan research group says Illinois’ desperate financial condition is getting even worse.

The Civic Federation of Chicago says unless something is done soon, by next year the state’s pile of unpaid bills could consume half of all new tax revenue.

Pat Quinn speaking next to his portrait
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Former governor Pat Quinn was back in the Illinois Statehouse Monday. The Democrat was there for a ceremony to unveil his official portrait in the Capitol’s Hall of Governors.

Dick Durbin
file / Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is putting his heart into attacking the Republican health care bill — literally.

Durbin is citing his own recent cardiac procedure to point out what he and other Democrats say are flaws in the legislation.

Budget talk continues in Springfield — but our panel isn't getting its hopes up yet. And what's really holding up the sale of the Thompson Center? (Spoiler alert: It's complicated.)

James Kluppelberg
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois’ budget stalemate has held up compensation for people who’ve been unjustly imprisoned. But on Thursday, a bipartisan group of state senators took a step toward fixing that.

Senate Committee
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The death of a one-year-old child in Joliet Township has Illinois' child-welfare agency on the defensive.

Department of Children and Family Services director George Sheldon testified Wednesday before a state Senate committee.

Heather Steans
file / Office of Sen. Heather Steans

Illinois Senate Democrats are hoping to win bipartisan support for a partial government spending plan.

The proposal would release more than $800 million that’s been collected in special state accounts for higher education and human services, areas that have been particularly squeezed during the 22-month budget stalemate.

bus stop
flickr.com/stevekeiretsu

The state budget impasse has left Illinois months behind in payment to downstate mass transit agencies. That’s led to cuts in service from Kankakee to Jacksonville.

Now lawmakers are looking to remove them from the fight.

Illinois has gone 667 days without a budget. Asked to grade his performance in office, Gov. Rauner gave himself an A for what he could do without legislative support.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Michael Madigan requested a meeting with Rauner — thought to be their first in nearly 6 months.

And between 1,500 and 2,000 women marched on the Capitol in support of Democratic policies and candidates, as House Democrats sought to highlight Rauner's contradictory positions on abortion rights.

Dennis Hastert
U.S. House of Representatives

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has lost his $28,000 annual state pension. He’s serving a 15-month prison sentence for banking violations — crimes he admitted were to pay someone to keep quiet about his sexual abuse of high school students decades ago.

Women's March on Springfield
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The minimum wage, abortion rights, and the state budget were among the rallying points for women marching on the Illinois Statehouse Tuesday. The event put liberal issues — and Democratic candidates — front and center.

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says he and his colleagues will take up a partial government spending bill passed by the House earlier this month.

John Cullerton
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been saying he thinks a comprehensive budget deal is “very close.” He points to negotiations in the state Senate, so Brian Mackey asked the Senate president if that’s the case.

Barbara Flynn Currie
Illinois House Democrats

Women from across Illinois are expected in Springfield Tuesday for a march and rally at the Statehouse.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Governor Bruce Rauner was asked Friday why he’s changed his position on an abortion law since the 2014 campaign.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he'd veto legislation seeking to protect the right to abortion in Illinois. Pro-abortion-rights activists say that's a change of position from what Rauner told them as a candidate in 2014.

Meanwhile, S&P and Moody's say the budget impasse, approaching 22 months, is hurting the credit worthiness of state universities.

The Quad, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Clay Gregory / flickr.com/claygregory (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Six of Illinois’ state universities have been put on notice for credit downgrades. It’s the latest knock on state government after more than 21 months without a full budget.

Gov. Bruce Rauner embarked on a political tour of Illinois — but he says it's not a campaign tour. (In fact, he's already confirmed he will seek re-election next year.)

Reps. Darlene Senger and Elaine Nekritz
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Illinois criminal justice system has become increasingly reliant on fees. People convicted of crimes have become money makers for state and local government — paying for everything from prosecutors' offices to new police cars.

A report says current court fees inject “unfairness” into the justice system. 

As public universities face fiscal emergencies and domestic violence shelters are closing, House Democrats approve what they call "lifeline spending." Republicans object, saying it relieves pressure on legislators to pass a comprehensive state budget.

Meanwhile, billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker formally declares his candidacy for governor. Will the Democratic primary be a story of David vs. Goliath vs. David vs. Goliath vs. David?

handgun
Wikimedia Commons

The Illinois Senate on Thursday passed stricter gun legislation long sought by the Chicago Police.

Illinois State capitol building in the fog / rain
Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

As Illinois enters its 22nd month without a real budget, the state services most affected by the political fight include those that help victims of domestic violence.

A month after Gov. Bruce Rauner conveyed to Republicans his opposition to the grand bargain, Senate Democrats are rejecting his attempt to break off pieces of the deal. Meanwhile, Democrats are offering a "Comeback Agenda" as an alternative to Rauner's "Turnaround Agenda," and House Speaker Michael Madigan is taking public offense to some of the governor's remarks.

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