Amanda Vinicky

Illinois Statehouse Bureau Chief

U.S Sen. Mark Kirk will face a challenge from Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who announced Monday she'll run for the seat. It's unknown who else will vie for the spot, but it's already expected to be a tight race.

Duckworth, who was elected to the U.S. House in 2012, took to YouTube to declare her candidacy.

"I'm running for the U.S. Senate in 2016 because it's time for Washington to be held accountable, and to put Illinois' families and communities first," she said in the video.

Republican Bruce Rauner has signed a temporary budget fix -- his first law since becoming governor earlier this year. 

Illinois' budget has a $1.6 billion dollar gap --- the result of a spending plan Democrats passed in the spring; some had hoped then for a post-election tax increase that never came to fruition.

Democratic Senator Heather Steans of Chicago says this will fill that gap.

There's a reason analysts say Illinois has the nation's lowest credit rating. It has the nation's largest unfunded pension liability. A 2013 law that’s facing a challenge before the Illinois Supreme Court is intended to help.

Illinois is facing a budget hole in the billions, thanks to a rollback of the income tax. If the high court tosses out the pension law, there'll be more fiscal pressure.

Analysts like Moody's Ted Hampton say the rating won't likely drop further, even if the justices toss the law because the rating already presumes the law cannot be implemented.

The Illinois Supreme Court has opened its doors for a special evening session tonight. The justices want Gov. Bruce Rauner and other legislators to meet and watch as they hear a case. 

Chief Justice Rita Garman says in a news release that she wants to give lawmakers a window into the system's essential checks and balances. 

Rauner's office announced that he will attend the session, beginning at 6:20 p.m.

The many years legislators spent crafting a measure to rein in the state's pension costs came to a head yesterday in 52-and-a-half minute hearing before the Illinois Supreme Court. It's now up to the seven justices whether a law that reduces employees' and retirees' benefits is constitutional.

Even before then-Gov. Pat Quinn signed the pension overhaul into law just over a year ago, everyone knew it would come to this.

A legal battle over union fees is brewing, between Illinois Republican governor and Democratic Attorney General.

Illinois' Attorney General says Gov. Bruce Rauner had no authority to bring a fight over union dues to federal court. She's trying to dismiss the case.

Republican Gov. Rauner is trying to get rid of so-called "fair share" dues on two fronts: he's ordered state agencies to stop collecting them, and he's suing in federal court to toss out the underlying state law that requires them.

Twenty-seven unions, representing some 40,000 state employees, are taking the state's chief executive to court.

A lawsuit filed Thursday in St. Clair County circuit court says Gov. Bruce Rauner's executive order eliminating "fair-share" dues requirements was illegal.

A spokesman for Rauner says the lawsuit was expected, and that unions are trying to hold onto their power.

Unions are taking Gov. Bruce Rauner to court over his attempt to get rid of so-called "fair-share" dues.

Illinois law requires workers who are not members of unions to nonetheless pay a fee, for the benefits unions secure on their behalf.

Rauner had issued an executive order eliminating that requirement.

But labor leaders says that's a violation of the separation of powers; in other words, a governor can't unilaterally toss out a state law.

A disease responsible for the deaths of millions of bats has spread in Illinois.

The white-nose syndrome gets its name from a fungus that grows on affected bats' noses. Scientists say infected bats often show odd behavior - like taking daytime flights - when they're supposed to be hibernating. It's suspected that depletes their fat reserves, and causes the bats to become emaciated, and eventually die. 

Last month, Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled his budget --- chock full of cuts to state programs. But now it's the legislature's turn to take a swipe at a state spending plan. Amanda Vinicky reports on a hearing, at which the governor's office had to testify before lawmakers about its own budget.

Rich Egger

Some of the main architects of the Illinois law that seeks to save the state money by reducing workers' pensions have begun collecting pensions of their own.  That includes the former governor and some people who recently left the legislature.

During his inauguration speech, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan announced a new mission -- figuring out what Illinois can do to prevent violence, like mass shootings at schools. A bipartisan task force formed to study the issue will meet for the first time today in Chicago.

Look back at the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Columbine, Northern Illinois University, and Rep. Greg Harris says you'll see commonalities. Like missed opportunities to help the killers with mental health issues that had been detected, but weren't properly treated.

Thirty-eight days into his term as Illinois' governor, Bruce Rauner yesterday delivered his much-anticipated budget address. Amanda Vinicky recaps the financial reckoning.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's prescription for Illinois’ finances will finally be made known on Wednesday, when he gives his budget address. Legislators, state employees and social service agencies will no doubt pay close attention to what Rauner has to say. But after another big speech earlier this month made many go "gee," observers will also be listening for how he says it.

Brian Mackey

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner on Monday banned so-called fair share union fees, calling them unconstitutional.

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