Charles N. Wheeler III

Analyst

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.

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Commentary: Gov. Bruce Rauner recently criticized the Democrats for passing a spending plan that is more than a billion dollars out of balance, according to analysis from his budget office. That same report noted that if one-time revenues are included, the state could see a surplus at the end of the year.

Chicago and Illinois submit their joint bid for Amazon's "HQ2" — a second headquarters for the web retailer. We'll talk about the incentives arms race, Illinois' strengths and weaknesses, and the secret bid.

The field of Democrats running for governor has gotten smaller as Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar ends his campaign. Meanwhile, the AFSCME union says the Illinois Department of Corrections isn't doing enough to keep correctional officers safe.

Fallout continues from Gov. Bruce Rauner's decision to sign a pro-abortion bill, with some Republicans calling him a liar and others courting primary challengers. How will this affect his bid for reelection?

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office

*Editor's Note: This piece was published prior to Gov. Bruce Rauner's announcement he signed House Bill 40, the abortion bill. 

Commentary: A capital bill; spending cuts; a veto of the abortion bill? A look at some pending questions for the fall legislative session. 

When Illinois lawmakers return for their fall session next month, they, and by extension, taxpayers, will face tantalizing questions.

With Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's announcement last week that she won't be running for re-election, hopefuls are lining up to run.  Opposition is building against Cook County's controversial soda tax.  And Governor Bruce Rauner is promoting Illinois as a great location for Amazon's new headquarters.

Rick Pearson of the Chicago Tribune and the State Journal-Register's Bernie Schoenburg join the panel.

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich gave his first interviews since reporting to a federal prison more than five years ago. We consider his long silence and ongoing legacy in Illinois government.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says his administration will finally go to the bond market to help refinance billions of dollars of unpaid bills. The move is expected to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars a year in interest penalties.

Illinois schools will soon resume receiving state funding, after Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bipartisan compromise that passed the House and Senate earlier in the week.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

What we know as of Friday about a tentative compromise among legislative leaders on school funding, along with the continuing controversy over Governor Rauner's response to a political cartoon posted by the Illinois Policy Institute.  WBEZ's Tony Arnold and WTTW's Amanda Vinicky join the panel.

Republicans and Democrats gathered in Springfield this week for their annual rallies tied to the Illinois State Fair. Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Republicans outlined a campaign strategy that takes aim at House Speaker Michael Madigan. Democrats, meanwhile, tried to lash Rauner to the fortunes of President Donald Trump.

The Illinois General Assembly is still weighing what to do in the wake of Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of the Democrats' new approach  to how the state sends money to schools in  Illinois. Meanwhile, Comptroller Susana Mendoza is urging Rauner to get going on issuing bonds to begin paying down the backlog of bills.

The Illinois General Assembly returns to Springfield as the clock ticks down to the new fiscal year July 1. Will Illinois begin a third fiscal year without a real budget? Is Gov. Bruce Rauner really interested in "compromise" ? And are Democrats willing to meet his demands?

Gov. Bruce Rauner has called 10 special sessions on the budget for the final days of the month. For the first time, he's publicly endorsed a specific set of tax increases to accompany the non-budget demands he's been making since he came into office. Does this represent real movement? Or is it just marketing?

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Louder outcry from voters may be what will be the trick to produce movement from the governor and House speaker

A federal judge says Illinois has to prioritize payments for Medicaid providers, but the state doesn't have enough revenue to meet its spending obligations. Could Illinois soon run out of money? Does the market really think Illinois could default on its debt?

Illinois government ended another legislative session without a budget. Because of that, credit rating agencies downgraded the state's debt while public universities announced more layoffs.

Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker was in the news because of his relationship with imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Senate Democrats go it alone on a tax hike — will their House counterparts follow suit? And what happens if legislators don't pass a budget by the scheduled end of session on May 31?

Senate Democrats hold another set of votes on what was once referred to as the "grand bargain," but Republicans say the deal isn't there yet. Can anyone in Springfield trust anyone else long enough to make something happen?

Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker is under attack by Republicans over his property taxes.

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. 

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Commentary: The time has come to stop talking about a  'truly balanced budget'

“Let’s get a truly balanced budget ... ”  Gov. Bruce Rauner and his aides, in various venues on numerous occasions, 2015-present.

Not to downplay the governor’s mantra, but what exactly is a “truly balanced budget?” 

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.)

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.

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.

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.)

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?

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There are reasons for legalizing industrial hemp.

Might pot and ditch weed help ease the state's financial crisis and boost its farm economy?

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.

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.

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.

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