WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois Statehouse Bureau Chief

Ways to Connect

 An Illinois delegation that’s a mix of political newcomers, elected officials, lobbyists and the like have arrived in Cleveland, as the Republican National Convention gets underway.

A "must" of any visit to the state fair is the Butter Cow: a large -- though not life-sized -- sculpture of a cow, made entirely of butter.

Illinois has had one for some 90 years.

But the woman who's been doing it recently, is "mooving" on, to retirement. State fair organizers and the Midwest Dairy Association held a search for a replacement.

With a little "bovine intervention," they found Sarah Pratt, of Des Moines; she's made butter art at the Iowa State Fair for the past decade -- and not just of cows.

Moody’s Investor Service is out with a warning that the just-passed stopgap spending plan is not enough for Illinois’ public universities.

On Thursday, lawmakers were extolling the measure’s support for higher education. 

Republican state Sen. Chapin Rose of Mahomet highlighted funding of Monetary Award Program – or MAP – grants, for low-income students.

Illinois legislators haven’t been paid in months, but that’s about to change.

The unprecedented Illinois budget impasse has ended ... for now. Lawmakers passed and the governor signed a partial budget Thursday, the final day of fiscal year 2016. But it's only a temporary patch.

The stalemate went longer than many expected.  

Illinois' unprecedented budget impasse has ended … for now, and just in the nick of time. The governor signed, and legislators passed, a partial budget Thursday, on the final day of fiscal year 2016. But it's only a temporary salve.

Illinois lawmakers are on the verge of passing a state budget, though only a partial one. Thursday is the final day of the 2016 fiscal year.

The plan is for lawmakers to vote on an agreement the governor and the General Assembly's leaders apparently worked out in hours of private meetings yesterday. 

Illinois lawmakers are expected to vote on a short-term budget on Wednesday, when they'll be back in Springfield for the first time in a month. There's no budget plan in place for the new fiscal year that starts Friday, which could create even more disarray after a year-long stalemate.

Though political fighting at the statehouse and the lack of a complete budget meant it was haphazard, municipalities got much of their state funding this year. But Illinois is set to begin a new fiscal year Friday with no spending plan in place. That has local officials worried.

Mahomet Village President Sean Widener says it's a matter of stability.

Illinois is preparing to hit the bond market even as the budget impasse has dimmed analysts' views of the state's credit worthiness.

Just as if your credit score declined, Illinois' lower rating makes borrowing more expensive.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner says he's still going to try to a half a billion dollars worth of bonds Thursday to pay for roads and bridges.

Illinois' budget crisis will continue, unabated. The regular, spring session came to an end Tuesday night, without any resolution to the stalemate that has the state entering its twelfth month without a complete spending plan. There's no plan for next year, either.

Illinois could be heading into a second year without a budget. Lawmakers are beginning their final day of the regularly-scheduled spring session without a deal.

Lawmakers only have two days to pass a budget before a pending deadline. But even as top leaders came out of a meeting Sunday, saying that a deal is possible, it was clear the chances are woefully slim.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has danced around it before. But this time, he didn't flinch.

Rauner says if it gets to his desk, he will reject in its entirety the only spending plan currently alive in the statehouse: a plan House Democrats approved last week.

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Despite recent hype over the possibility of legislators putting questions on the November ballot to change the constitution, the Illinois House adjourned Wednesday without even voting on proposed amendments. Their lack of action means voters won't be asked whether they want to change how they're taxed.

Thanks to a law signed last week, Illinois' public universities and community colleges are finally getting state money for the first time since last summer. Now, more could be on the way.

The bipartisan deal is sending $600 million to higher education.

But it wasn't spread out evenly.

Most schools got 30-percent of last year's funding.

Chicago State University got 60-percent.

Senator Donne Trotter, a Chicago Democrat, says that's because CSU was on the precipice of a shutdown.

Amanda Vinicky

As the state budget impasse has entered an eleventh month, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said he's hopeful a "grand bargain" can be worked out by the end of May.  But he's leaving the bargaining to others.

  The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is set to get a new leader in July.

When it opened in 2004, the presidential museum was touted as a world-class complex, and a tourist-luring gem for Springfield.

After a dearth of redistricting opportunities, there's a chance Illinois voters could be faced with several options in the November election.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he isn't a billionaire, but he's not far off. Me? I'm Amanda Vinicky, statehouse bureau chief for Illinois Public Radio, and let's just say I've got a better chance of walking on the moon than ever making a billion bucks.

But both Rauner and I -- as does everyone else who lives in Illinois, no matter how rich or poor -- pay the same state income tax rate. The constitution requires a flat tax.

Some Illinois Democrats are moving to change that. 

Illinois legislators should expect a delay in their paychecks. Comptroller Leslie Munger announced that elected official' pay will wait in line, just like other bills.

Illinois lawmakers have taken the first step toward eliminating the office of Lieutenant Governor. Estimates show the proposed constitutional amendment could save $1.6 million dollars a year.

The lieutenant governor doesn't actually have to do much: The Constitution vaguely says whoever holds the office "shall perform the duties ... delegated to him by the Governor."

This year, the Lt. Gov is actually a “her," Evelyn Sanguinetti. She led a local government consolidation task force.

Illinois' top legislators and the governor met yesterday for the first time this year. There's no indication it led to any resolution of the state's prolonged budget stalemate.

The private meeting lasted roughly an hour.

Republicans are making an offer to get money to social services agencies that have gone three-quarters of the year without any state funding.

Illinois' political stalemate has caused crises all over the state, says Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has created a task force charged with finding fraud in taxpayer-funded health care programs.

The Republican Tuesday used his executive authority to form the group. It'll seek ways to prevent waste in state- and federally funded Medicaid , the state employee's health insurance and even costs of caring for inmates in Illinois prisons. Rauner says the cost of state-run health care programs increases when no one watches to stop abuse and fraud.

Illinois lawmakers are moving to make it easier for transgender individuals to change the gender marker on a fundamental document: their birth certificates. Democrats on a House committee approved the legislation Tuesday on a partisan vote of 8 to 6.

Alexandria Dinardo, who was born and raised in Springfield, was born male; that's what Dinardo's birth certificate still says.

Amanda Vinicky

Some of the primary races in early March were the most expensive in state history, but it will remain a mystery where all of the money to fund them came from. That does not appear to concern Gov.Bruce Rauner.

Unions landed a victory Tuesday: A tie at the U-S Supreme Court on a case perceived as do-or-die for public employee unions means current rules will remain in place. But Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he'll continue to try to ban so-called "fair share" fees.

The Illinois Supreme Court will be asked to re-visit an opinion it just issued March 24. State employees' salaries are at stake. 


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