Charles N. Wheeler III

Analyst/ Ends and Means Blog

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The director of the Public Affairs Reporting (PAR) graduate program is Professor Charles N. Wheeler III,  a veteran newsman who came to the University of Illinois at Springfield following a 24-year career at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Wheeler covered state government and politics for the Sun-Times since 1970, when he covered the Sixth Illinois Constitutional Convention. For the last 19 years of his Sun-Times tenure, Wheeler was assigned to the newspaper’s Statehouse bureau. During that time, he was elected to 16 consecutive one-year terms as president of the Illinois Legislative Correspondents Association and served for many years on the PAR program and admissions committees.

Since 1984, he has written a monthly column for Illinois Issues magazine, which has won five Capitolbeat awards for magazine commentary/analysis. In 2006, the Illinois Associated Press Editors Association inducted him into The Lincoln League of Journalists, which honors men and women who have provided exemplary service to other journalists and to daily newspapers published in Illinois. In 2013, he was chosen as the Journalist of the Year by the Journalism Department at Eastern Illinois University.  He is also a regular on the panel for State Week, WUIS' weekly political analysis program that airs on public radio stations across Illinois.

Before joining the Sun-Times in 1969, Wheeler served more than three years as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Panama. He is a graduate of St. Mary’s University, Winona, MN, majoring in English, and received a master’s degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Wheeler draws on the talents of many UIS faculty with expertise in such fields as public budgeting, political science, and communication, as well as professional journalists and state officials, to present students with a well-rounded program to bridge the academic and professional areas.

Ways to Connect

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

A state labor board declined to rush the Rauner administration's request for a speedy decision on a dispute with state employees, while the AFSCME unions seems to be readying for a strike. We'll also talk about what last week's stopgap budget means for schools and universities.

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

Democrats and Republicans came together to approve a partial state budget. It's enough to sustain some government operations through the end of the year, but it's still a long way away from functional government.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

  Gov. Bruce Rauner says his Republican negotiators and Democrats are getting closer to an agreement on a partial state budget. Meanwhile, bipartisan gun control legislation has surfaced in the wake of the massacre of 49 people in Orlando, Fla.

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

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he and his administration have done "heroic" work to keep Illinois government running. But time and money are catching up with that effort, and that will cost taxpayers for years to come.

Illinois political leaders’ performance on the budget is reminiscent of the losingest team in modern baseball. 

a metaphor about Illinois government
I.W. Taber / Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

  After spending seventeen months fighting over the governor’s agenda and the end of May fighting about a temporary spending plan, now Democrats and Republicans are fighting about political fighting itself. Also: whales (!).


House floor
Brian Mackey / WUIS

Illinois has a constitutional requirement that its budget must be balanced — spending has to equal revenues every year. But is the Illinois budget ever really balanced?

Brian Mackey put that question to two people who closely follow Illinois' finances: Charlie Wheeler, director of the Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Illinois Springfield, and Jamey Dunn, editor of Illinois Issues.

    

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

Thwarted in a last-minute attempt to thrust a temporary spending plan on Democrats, Gov. Bruce Rauner is liberal in his use of the word "failure." Democrats, meanwhile, train their fire on each other.

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

With just days remaining before the scheduled end of the spring legislative session, Democrats and Republicans appear far apart on a state budget and the governor's agenda. Will Illinois enter a second year without a spending plan?

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

Legislators and top Rauner administration officials are acknowledging what it’ll take to solve Illinois’ budget mess: billions of dollars in spending cuts and tax hikes. But they're also insisting it's just a possibility, not a bill, and certainly not a deal.

In other news, a familiar name is suing over the "Independent Maps" ballot initiative.

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

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert was sentenced in a hush-money scandal and admitted to molesting children; Governor Bruce Rauner said he hopes for a 2-year budget deal with legislative leaders by the end of May; and the governor insists contact negotiations with AFSCME are at an impass.  Kerry Lester of the Daily Herald joins the panel.

flickr/ Jim Bowen

Looking beyond our state’s borders and into Illinois’ past for a playbook to end the current budget standoff. 

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

After months without meeting, the governor and legislative leaders gathered behind closed doors this week, with apparently no progress toward a budget agreement. Speculation continues the Attorney General might go to court to stop state workers from being paid without an appropriation. Some believe such a move could force the governor and leaders to reach a deal. Others aren't so sure.  The State Journal-Register's Doug Finke joins the panel.

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

This week, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno declared, "We need change!"  However, there is still no agreement among state lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner on what form that change should take as Illinois continues to go without a spending plan.  Illinois Issues' Jamey Dunn and The State Journal-Register's Bernie Schoenburg join the panel.

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

Several of the races in this week's primary election were widely seen as a referendum on Gov. Bruce Rauner. In the two highest-profile races, the governor neither protected an ally nor vanquished a foe.

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

With the election arriving next Tuesday, a handful of candidates and their "dark money" supporters were spending millions of dollars on just a handful of campaigns. Meanwhile, Gov. Bruce Rauner once again went on the attack against Democrats, and university presidents began making a more forceful case for state funding.

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

It’s been 247 days since the state of Illinois had a budget. In that time, the nation of Iran struck a deal with America to limit its nuclear program and the United States reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba. But in Springfield there is still no peace.

The governor's budget address had few specifics about his priorities, or his plans to balance the state's spending with its revenue. 

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

Gov. Bruce Rauner stumped across Illinois to drum up support for education funding — K-12 education finding, at least. College students, particularly from low-income backgrounds, have no such luck.

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

Governor Bruce Rauner addressed the Illinois General Assembly this week with his vision for the next fiscal year, despite still having no agreement on a spending plan for the current year.  John O'Connor of the Associated Press joins the panel.

Dick Durbin, Barack Obama, Bruce Rauner, Jim Langfelder
Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler / The State Journal-Register

President Barack Obama returned to Springfield to address the Illinois General Assembly this week. He's renewing the central argument of his first campaign for president: that most Americans want a less bitter, less divisive form of politics. Did his message resonate with Illinois lawmakers?

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

With the state budget impasse ongoing, lack of money continues to affect Illinois colleges and universities as well as Chicago Public Schools.  Chris Mooney, director of the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs, joins the panel.

flickr/ rabiem22

Commentary — Might we be seeing light at the end of the tunnel? Or is it the headlamps of the ongoing train wreck that is Illinois, picking up speed? Such questions came to mind listening to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address last week.

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

Governor Bruce Rauner gave his second annual State of the State address before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly this week.  Doug Finke of the State Journal-Register joins the panel.

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

Talks on fixing the state pension debt resumed, but Governor Bruce Rauner and Senate President John Cullerton can't seem to agree on what they agreed to and Rauner declared contract negotiations with AFSCME at an impasse.  Also this week, the governor announced his support for the state taking over the entire Chicago Public Schools system.  Meanwhile, Illinois higher education continues to go unfunded.  WBEZ's Tony Arnold joins the panel.

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

  Governor Bruce Rauner has been in office one year this week and gave a series of short interviews in Springfield this week.  And with more than 100 people shot in Chicago in the just the first two weeks of 2016, the governor says the solution to the violence is passing his pro-business, anti-union agenda.
Gatehouse Media's Doug Finke joins the panel.

Governor Bruce Rauner and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel escalated their war of words this week, with Rauner saying that before he'll help the Chicago public schools he expects Emanuel to agree to his pro-business agenda.  Mike Riopell, political editor for the Daily Herald, joins the panel.

This week, a look back at the past year in Illinois state government and politics.  WUIS News Director Sean Crawford and Illinois Issues Editor Jamey Dunn join the panel.

This week, the panel reflects back on some memorable people and events in Illinois state politics and government over the past few decades, how things have changed, and how things have stayed the same.

Illinois' budget crisis won't be resolved this year.  Governor Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders are sticking to their respective positions, and this week House Speaker Michael Madigan didn't attend a meeting that focused on discussion of term limits and other aspects of Rauner's demands.  WBEZ Public Radio's Tony Arnold joins the panel.

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