Daniel Biss

Dusty Rhodes

Let's say you've got a student loan and you get laid off your job. Your loan servicer suggests something called "forebearance" — the chance to delay payments for a year or two. Sounds tempting, but it ends up costing you more money.

That's one of the many tricky facts loan servicers will have to disclose in Illinois, where lawmakers yesterday approved stringent regulations on student loan service companies.

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.

Pawar, Pritzker and Biss
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

One of the Democrats running for governor of Illinois is proposing a huge expansion in a government healthcare program.

classroom desks
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

On Sunday, House Speaker Michael Madigan issued three demands for budget negotiations, and one of them was for Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign Senate Bill 1 — a massive overhaul to the state’s school funding structure. But he also said he was open to changes in that bill. Education Desk reporter Dusty Rhodes gives us a refresher course on what those changes might be.

 

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?

Dick Durbin
file / Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says talk of impeaching President Donald Trump is premature.

That's at odds with positions taken last week by at least three of the Democrats running for governor in Illinois.

Rep. Anna Moeller
Rep. Anna Moeller

Legislation passed out of the House Wednesday is meant to help close the gender wage gap in the state.

After a House vote of 91-24, the Equal Pay Act amendment will now be considered in the Senate as SB 981, under the sponsorship of Sen.  Daniel Biss, a Democrat from Evanston. 

Democratic Rep. Anna Moeller of Elgin, who sponsored House Bill 2462, says that while she expected the House to pass the bill, she was surprised by the number of yes votes.

“It just shows that this is an issue that is important to women in Illinois and families in Illinois,” she said. 

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?

State Week: Budget Battles Continue In Courts

Mar 24, 2017

It seems there more budget action in Illinois courts than in the Statehouse. After getting just one paycheck since last summer, state legislators are finally getting paid.

Gov. Bruce Rauner headshot
State of Illinois

Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his State of the State Address before a joint session of the General Assembly.

Daniel Biss speaking to group
Office of state Sen. Daniel Biss

The last time the General Assembly tried to make school funding more equitable across Illinois, the legislation got derailed largely due to a fight over teacher pensions. Now pensions have cropped up again, this time in a bipartisan commission working to overhaul the school funding formula.

Daniel Biss speaking to group
Office of state Sen. Daniel Biss

Recently, several social policy debates have moved  from the legislature to the judicial system.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and his allies are shoveling historic piles of cash into legislative races this year. A new federal super-PAC that goes by the acronym "LIFT" is seeking to counter that, by tying Rauner to Donald Trump.

Amanda Vinicky moderated a City Club of Chicago conversation on the current state budget impasse featuring a panel with  Republican State Rep. Patti Bellock, Democratic State Sen. Daniel Biss,  Democratic State Sen. Andy Manar, and Republican State Rep. David McSweeny.   

Illinois Issues: The Next Pension Time Bomb

Mar 30, 2016

Illinois has more than $100 billion in pension debt. So far, attempts to fix it have been mostly illegal.

ILGA.gov

The race for Illinois comptroller has narrowed: There will no longer be a Democratic primary. State Sen.Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, has confirmed he will not run.

You could say the Democratic primary race for comptroller is over before it ever began; only today can candidates begin filing paperwork to run.

ALPR
Garrett Brnger / Illinois Issues

Sometimes, police don't put up much of a fight when it comes to limiting their use of technology. That's what happened when Illinois regulated drones. But if they've already invested in the tools, passing legislation to rein it in becomes a lot harder.

Car mounted license plate reader
Garrett Brnger / WUIS / Illinois Issues

It doesn’t take much time at all, fractions of a second, to be marked and mapped, recorded and reported.

The automatic license plate reader cameras don’t look like much — just a pair of strobe lights on the back of a squad car, or maybe a cartoon character, depending on whom you ask.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz and Sen. Daniel Biss
Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s ideas about how to change government-employee pensions are getting extra scrutiny in Springfield.

Rauner wants employees to be moved into less generous plans for future pension benefits.

So far, it’s just something he’s just talked about. Democrats who’ve long focused on pension issues say that needs to change.

Sen. Daniel Biss, of Evanston, is calling for an actuarial analysis. He also says the idea that legislation would be passed and make it through the inevitable court challenge anytime soon is a “fantasy."

WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois law allows doctors to refuse to provide services and medications, like abortion and birth control, if it goes against their religious beliefs, but an effort backed by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood would make sure a doctor still provides patients with information about those options.

Sen. Daniel Biss proposes changing what's called the Right to Conscience Act to ensure patients receive information about all of their options, even if their doctor's religious beliefs mean the physician won't provide those services.

Pensions' big day before the Illinois Supreme Court has been set for next month, on March 11. 

I was honored to be on a panel recently (before Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget address, so no talk about his latest proposal), along with the Civic Federation's Laurence Msall, Sen. Daniel Biss D-Evanston and Sen. Matt Murphy R-Palatine, to discuss one of the state's most controversial, pressing and expensive issues.  

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

  The budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly does not rely on extending the 2011 income tax hike, as originally planned by Democratic leadership. Instead, it's based on state government borrowing from itself.

Instead of making the five percent income tax rate permanent or chopping away at government programs, lawmakers opted to fill a massive hole in state revenues by doing something called "interfund borrowing."

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

  The Illinois House is advancing legislation intended to get more people saving for retirement. Advocates say "nudging" workers into a savings program could help keep them out of poverty in retirement.

The so-called Secure Choice retirement savings program is an idea of the conservative Heritage Foundation. The plan would require all companies with more than 25 employees to automatically enroll workers in a state-supervised retirement program.

ilga.gov

A state senator who's trying to change a mistake in Illinois' pension reform law says he's optimistic it can be corrected.  

But as lawmakers head back to Springfield Tuesday, state Sen. Daniel Biss says he isn't sure yet just when or how that will happen.  
The language in last year's pension law would sharply reduce the pension of thousands of university employees if they don't retire by June 30, and some worry that may push many public university employees to retire early.  

The Illinois Senate is considering limits on the ways law enforcement can use electronic tracking information. Both privacy advocates and police are in favor of the change.

With the popularity of GPS-enabled smart phones, many of us are constantly broadcasting our location. And Illinois law doesn't have much to say about how that information can and can't be used against us in court.

Privacy advocates want restrictions. And even law enforcement can be left guessing as to what's legal.

MT_Image/Flickr

The controversial new law that overhauls pensions for Illinois public workers is now facing legal challenges.

But even before it was passed, experts had been fighting over exactly how big the state’s pension crisis really is. The answer to that math problem could have a big impact on your wallet.

When pundits and politicians and reporters talk about Illinois’ monster pension problem...there’s this number that keeps coming up.

Gov. Pat Quinn
Brian Mackey/WUIS

Governor Pat Quinn went months without meeting with members of the special legislative committee formed to draft a new pension plan, but this month he has begun to reach out.

It was Quinn's idea to form a conference committee, to bridge differences between the House and Senate over how to reduce Illinois' $100 billion pension debt.

But the ten members of that panel say other than phone calls welcoming them to the committee, he was absent from their talks from June on, leading to criticisms like this, from Rep. Jil Tracy, a Republican from Quincy.

Amanda Vinicky

As he runs for re-election, Gov. Pat Quinn is staking a lot on getting something done with pensions. He making a show of asking the state Supreme Court let him cancel legislators' salaries until it's done, and he says he won't deal with other major issues before the General Assembly -- like using tax credits to keep ADM headquartered in Illinois -- until there's what he calls a "comprehensive pension solution." But it's hard to tell just what that means. Most of the ten legislators he tasked with crafting that solution don't even seem to know. They say he's been largely absent ...

ILGA.gov

Legislators writing an overhaul of the state's pension systems could be nearing the end of their work.

Feedback's been plentiful since late last month, when a draft of a pension plan drawn up by a bipartisan legislative committee was leaked. Unions hate it - saying it overreaches in cutting retirement benefits. Business groups say it doesn't go far enough to save the state money. Not to mention complaints, including from the governor, that the committee is taking too long.

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