Ends and Means

The most recent attempt at changing the way legislative districts are drawn might have had a shot — had only the proposal left the auditor general out of the equation. 

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

flickr/ Jim Bowen

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

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

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.

Birthday cake
Will Clayton

The Illinois Constitution turns 45 on December 15. As the document reaches its birthday, Charlie Wheeler looks at the ways it modernized government. 

www.planetofsuccess.com/blog

The constitutional requirement for a balanced budget is not as strict as you might think.

Income tax space on a Monopoly game board
StockMonkeys.com

Commentary — Let’s be blunt: Illinois needs higher taxes.

That statement might come as a shock to citizens under the illusion that all would be well, if state leaders would just cut all the wasteful spending out of the state budget. 

handshake
www.flazingo.com

Columnist Charlie Wheeler proposes a way out of the current stalemate in state government.

Chad Kainz

The state may still be far from a budget deal, but the General Assembly was able to pass several criminal justice reforms in the spring legislative session.

Charlie Wheeler headshot
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Property taxes are excessively high and oppressive and the legislature should do something about it.

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner, explaining his call for a property tax freeze, whatever that means?

Lame duck Gov. Pat Quinn in his budget address last spring, urging lawmakers to send every homeowner a $500 refund check?

Good guess, but nope.

Charlie Wheeler headshot
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Is Illinois still a “blue” state?

Will Mike Madigan work with a Republican governor?

Those were among the “insightful” questions being posed by national pundits and talking heads after Bruce Rauner’s solid victory last month over Gov. Pat Quinn in one of the country’s most closely-watched, bitterly contested gubernatorial contests.

Folks here at home know the answers, of course: clearly yes, in both cases.

Ugly Election Brings Home Need For Campaign Finance Reform

Nov 1, 2014
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WUIS/Illinois Issues

That mighty “whoosh!” you’ll be hearing in a few days will be a collective sigh of relief from Illinoisans as one of the nastiest election seasons in recent memory blessedly draws to a close.

In the marquee event, of course, voters will decide the state’s next governor, choosing between Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees — oops, I mean Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn or Republican challenger Bruce Rauner, must have seen one too many campaign hit pieces — or opting for Libertarian Chad Grimm, standing in for “neither of the above.”

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WUIS/Illinois Issues

Unprecedented.

An often overused term, prone  to hyperbole, but a spot-on summary of last month's votes  for the 98th General Assembly, for never before in Illinois history has one political party captured veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers in the same general election.

Democrats did so, winning 40 Senate seats — the party's most ever — and 71 House seats, leaving shell-shocked Republicans to wonder if anyone caught the number of the bus that hit them.

Is Mike Madigan the Darth Vader of Illinois government, a sort of Dark Lord responsible for all the woes besetting the Prairie State, from its lowered bond rating to its mountain of unpaid bills, maybe even this summer’s devastating drought?

That’s the narrative Republican leaders hope will persuade Illinois voters on November 6 to support GOP candidates up and down the ballot, but most importantly for the Illinois General Assembly.

Charlie Wheeler headshot
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Could it have been the scorching, record-setting heat besetting Illinois in July? Or maybe fevered anticipation of the chance to renew his downstate bona fides by cutting the ribbon to open the Illinois State Fair?

Perhaps it was, plain and simple, a paranormal phenomenon. Whatever the explanation, Gov. Pat Quinn sure looked like he was channeling his disgraced predecessor on a number of high-profile, mid-summer occasions.

Here’s a sampler of Quinn actions that smack of Rod Blagojevich:

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WUIS/Illinois Issues

“All newspaper editorial writers ever do,” the late Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Murray Kempton once observed, “is come down from the hills after the battle is over and shoot the wounded.”

Whether Illinois legislators are wounded may be a matter of debate, but they certainly were the targets of a heavy barrage of scorn and disdain from the state’s media mavens in the aftermath of the spring session’s turmoil.

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WUIS/Illinois Issues

Ever the showman, Rod Blagojevich sought the spotlight with a basketful of grandiose proposals, half-baked notions and — unfortunately for the former governor — ill-conceived criminal schemes. 

A partial accounting might include:

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WUIS/Illinois Issues

Declaring a state goal “that all people be free from poverty,” Illinois four years ago created a special panel charged with developing a strategic plan to reduce extreme poverty in Illinois by 50 percent or more by 2015.

The timing could not have been worse.