Illinois General Assembly

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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?” 

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois legislators will only get a brief post-election respite from politics; a week from Wednesday they’ll be back in Springfield to begin the veto session.The current makeup of the General Assembly will remain in place for that, but come the new year -- when the Capitol welcomes a new set of lawmakers elected Tuesday night -- the balance of power will shift, slightly.

Election Day is like the Super Bowl of politics.

Anxious legislators will once again see a deposit from the state of Illinois in their bank accounts. They’re getting paid Tuesday for the first time since July, when their April paychecks came through.

caduceus medical symbol
Pixabay

The Illinois legislature has passed legislation amending the state law that decides when doctors can object to caring for a patient based on moral principle.

Rep. Will Guzzardi
Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

The Illinois House passed a measure Thursday to removes sales tax on feminine hygiene products sold in the state.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS / Illinois Issues

Billions of dollars in cuts are part of a possible budget for next year. So are higher taxes.

Illinois built up a deficit over the years; the current impasse has only exacerbated it. A bipartisan group of legislators chosen to craft a solution has a potential path for fiscal year 2017.

Members are cagey about sharing details. It's politically sensitive; members say they're hesitant to share details out of respect for their private negotiations.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois legislators should expect a delay in their paychecks.

Comptroller Leslie Munger announced Sunday that elected officials' pay will wait in line, just like other bills.

Vendors and agencies that perform work for the state are waiting months to be paid. Until now, officials' paychecks were essentially given preferential treatment.

With a handful of Constitutional officers and 177 state legislators, the paychecks collectively total $1.3 million a month, or $15.6 for the year.

A mix of tourists and lobbyists milled about the rotunda of the Illinois Statehouse on Tuesday.
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Spring break is over for Illinois legislators, who return to the Capitol this week.

Illinois lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow the governor to make unilateral budget cuts. But it could also impact the state's access to health care. 

Sarah Mueller WUIS

The Fantasy Sports Trade Association and its 300 members, which include ESPN and Yahoo, are backing legislation that would make daily fantasy games legal in Illinois. It would also characterize the contests as games of skill.

Barack Obama, Michael Madigan and John Cullerton
Pool photo by Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune

Illinois' leaders are still stuck in a budgetary quagmire, weeks after President Barack Obama came to Springfield to call for less polarization in politics.

For this episode of The Players: Your look into who's who in Illinois politics and what they're up to (or more precisely this time around -- your look into who's who in national politics and what they were up to when they visited Illinois).

npr.org

Nine years after he came to Springfield to announce he was running for President, Barack Obama will return to the state capitol Wednesday. He'll address Illinois representatives and senators at the statehouse.

Obama will be only the fourth sitting president to speak before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly. President William Howard Taft did it in 1911, Herbert Hoover in 1933, then Jimmy Carter in 1978.

WIU students demonstrating.
Rich Egger / Tri States Public Radio

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said the state can fund higher education if it changes how it buys products and services. He said changes could save Ilinois taxpayers around a half a billion dollars a year, but procurement reform wouldn't cover all of the state's higher education spending.

Illinois Issues/WUIS

Next month, President Barack Obama will return to the place where his political career began -- Springfield, Illinois -- to address state legislators.


Several Democratic lawmakers want to make it simpler for more than 2 million Illinois residents to sign up to vote.


Wikimedia commons

Members of the Illinois House and Senate will be in Springfield again Tuesday, but there's still no budget deal for them to vote on.

Illinois' public university presidents had warned in a letter of the "irreparable damage" being caused by having to wait three months, and counting, for state money to come their way. Now, they're taking their case to the capitol. University leaders could have audiences with the governor, and legislative leaders. Senate President John Cullerton's spokeswoman, Rikeesha Phelon, Cullerton will set aside time to meet with them.

igpa.gov

A sitting state legislator has died. Seventy-one-year old Rep. Esther Golar represented the southwest side of Chicago since 2006.

flickr/dborman

As Illinois' $36-billion budget remains in limbo, the state's top political leaders have been focusing on a much smaller number: roughly $250,000 in spending. That's roughly how much Illinois is set to spend this year paying legislators a raise. Republicans and Democrats both say the focus over pay is a distraction, while at the same time denouncing each other for enabling what they claim to be excessive salaries.

A Cook County judge's ruling Tuesday that state employees won't receive their salaries during a budget impasse adds a new wrinkle as the Republican Governor and Democratic-led legislature struggle to reach an agreement.

Amanda Vinicky

State legislators are back in Springfield today, and a budget impasse means they have serious issues to deal with, but they spent a brief time getting into the bipartisan spirit of celebrating an Illinois victory, the Blackhawks's win last night. 

State Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat, led the Illinois House in a quick cheer. "We would like to congratulate the 2015 Stanley Cup champions."

Other legislators joined in to sing the chorus of "Chelsea Dagger," the tune the Blackhawks play when a goal is scored. 

 Gov. Bruce Rauner will now decide whether to separate the capital city's Lincoln showplace from its parent agency.

 An Illinois lawmaker has announced he will receive treatment for recently diagnosed esophageal cancer.  

State Rep. Frank Mautino of Spring Valley says his doctor found a mass in his esophagus during a routine physical in late January. The 52-year-old Democratic lawmaker says he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer after a biopsy was conducted in February.  

Mautino told The (Ottawa) Daily Times  during a phone interview on Monday that doctors have told him the cancer is 97 percent treatable.  

Amanda Vinicky

A new class of legislators were sworn into office Wednesday, making the start of a new, two-year legislative session. It's also the official beginning of a new period in Illinois politics.

With Republican Bruce Rauner in the governor's mansion, Illinois will have a divided government for the first time in a dozen years.

If you listened to Bruce Rauner on the campaign trail, you'd think that he would want to steer clear of Illinois' lawmakers. He reviled them. Especially those who had long careers in Springfield. Rauner, remember, ran on a platform advocating for term limits. But that was before he won election. Now, as he prepares to be Illinois' next governor, Rauner has spent a time reaching out to the politicians he'd once vilified. Amanda Vinicky checked in with some of them about how it went.

Amanda Vinicky

The Illinois House has adjourned its two-year legislative session for good, without a vote on a minimum wage hike - meaning that Representatives will not be back in Springfield before Republican Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner takes over.  But backers of an increase are raising the possibility that the proposal isn't quite dead yet.

In Latin, "Sine Die" means “without a date," so when House Speaker Michael Madigan said "I move that we adjourn Sine Die," he meant that current makeup of the Illinois House was adjourning for good - with no intent to meet again.

Illinois lawmakers are reconvening for the final scheduled week of their fall veto session. They are expected to make a push to advance a proposal increasing the state's minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2017.  

Republican governor-elect Bruce Rauner  is scheduled to make an appearance Tuesday morning at the state Capitol.  

Gov. Pat Quinn's office says the outgoing governor has been meeting with lawmakers and gathering support for the proposal.  

State representative candidate Mel Thillens
WUIS/Illinois Issues

 Republican Mel Thillens is a first-time candidate for the Illinois House, but his name has been carried across the state on the sides of large trucks for years.

The third-generation owner of the armored truck company that bears his name, Thillens is one of dozens of GOP candidates trying to reverse the damage his party suffered two years ago.

flickr/jmorgan

The legislature easily approved a measure in the spring that will raise taxes on some of the largest Illinois businesses.  Apparently they didn't know what they were passing.  Bill Wheelhouse spoke with Paul Merrion of Crain's Chicago Business.

Peoria Public Radio

A federal jury in Chicago has convicted Illinois state Rep. Derrick Smith of bribery for taking $7,000 from a purported day care operator.

Jurors returned with their verdict Tuesday after deliberating about four hours over two days.  

At trial, prosecutors played secret recordings of the 50-year-old Chicago Democrat allegedly accepting 70 $100 bills in exchange for a letter supporting a state grant. But it was all part of an FBI sting.  

The recordings of Smith were made by a campaign worker-turned-informant.  

Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Legislature adjourned its spring session having passed a new state budget and other key measures, but leaving some business undone. Here's a look at what passed and what didn't:  
     BILLS SENT TO GOV. PAT QUINN:  
Budget: A roughly $35.7 billion budget for 2015 keeps funding flat for schools and most state agencies. Majority Democrats acknowledged the budget is ``incomplete'' because it postpones tough votes about whether to slash spending or find new revenue until after November's election.  

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