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Brian Mackey

Illinois Statehouse Reporter

Brian Mackey covers Illinois state government and politics from the WUIS Statehouse bureau. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He can be reached at (217) 206-6020.

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Gov. Bruce Rauner is scheduled to deliver his budget message to the Illinois General Assembly this Wednesday. In advance of that, interest groups are lining up to plead their case for state funding. On Monday, representatives of the state’s colleges and universities made one such pitch.

President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday. As expected, he talked about improving American politics. What follows is Illinois Public Radio's broadcast of the full speech, hosted by Niala Boodhoo with reporting and analysis from IPR's Amanda Vinicky and Brian Mackeyand former state Sen. Rick Winkel, who's with the University of Illinois' Institute of Government and Public Affairs. There's also video of the speech and a transcript provided by the White House press office.

President Barack Obama is set to address the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield Wednesday. Statehouse reporter Brian Mackey filed this preview of what the president is expected to say — and what he probably won’t say.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

As we get ready to welcome 2016, we thought we’d take a few minutes to listen back to what’s been a difficult year in Illinois government and politics. There was an epic fight between Democrats and Republicans in Springfield, disgrace for two Illinois Congressmen, and a reckoning over violence in Chicago.

Gov. Bruce Rauner spoke in public Wednesday for the first time since Tuesday's big summit with legislative leaders.

With Illinois in its sixth month without a budget, the state's top political leaders met Tuesday in Springfield. It was the first time they'd all gotten together in months. We asked Brian Mackey to tell us whether anything was accomplished.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is standing by his decision to backtrack on cuts to a low-income daycare program. That comes even as Democrats in the Illinois House failed to pass legislation that would have forced Rauner to undo his changes.

The program is meant to help parents out of poverty by subsidizing daycare, so they can work or go to school.

Rauner unilaterally slashed eligibility this summer. After months of outcry and a Democratic threat to pass legislation undoing his changes, Rauner on Monday announced he'd back off most of the cuts.

The Illinois Supreme Court has once again ruled in favor of tobacco giant Philip Morris. The decision, announced Wednesday, saves the company from a $10.1 billion judgment.

News Analysis — On September 18, 2012, the year before Bruce Rauner declared his candidacy for governor, he shared his vision for a crisis that could help reshape state government.

Brian Mackey

You might think that with the state of Illinois’ finances in flames, the top legislative leaders would be in constant meetings with the governor. You might think they were working around the clock to hammer out a compromise. You might think that, but you would be wrong.

Brian Mackey

Illinois Democrats say they're in an "epic" struggle with the state's new Republican governor. The party met in Springfield Thursday for its annual fundraising breakfast and State Fair rally.

Should criminals bear the cost of their own rehabilitation?

Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

The Illinois State Fair will go on, even though the budget stalemate has left officials without the means to fully pay for it.

The Illinois House and Senate will reconvene in Springfield today. The unusual June session comes as majority Democrats and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner continue to clash.

Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan say they’ve had “cordial” conversations. But their public statements have a different tone.

“The middle class is suffering under the politics of Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton," Rauner said.

Madigan says he thinks it’s an “example of functioning in the extreme.”

“It doesn’t help the process," Madigan said.

The Illinois House met in Springfield Thursday for an unusual June session. Democrats took a series of votes on changes to the workers’ compensation system.

Illinois just enacted a big, bipartisan overhaul of workers’ comp a few years ago. But Gov. Bruce Rauner says costs are still too high, and that more changes are needed.

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The Illinois Supreme Court struck down legislation that tried to cut retirement benefits for thousands of state workers.  In a unanimous decision, the high court said lawmakers overstepped their power when they sought to cut pension benefits for state employees, university workers, and public school teachers.

A former governor of Illinois has died. Dan Walker ran the state for one term in the 1970s. A Democrat, he focused much of his brief political career fighting members of his own party as he did the opposition Republicans.

At a time when most Democratic politicians in Illinois were cogs in a massive political machine, Dan Walker was a nobody.

Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Governor Bruce Rauner has spent much of his first few months in office talking about labor unions. He’s shared not only policy proposals, but also his ideas about the history of the union movement.

The Illinois House on Tuesday voted to patch a 1.6-billion-dollar hole in the current state budget.

  The budget was supposed to get Illinois through June, but already the state's running out of money for things like court reporters and prison guards. That’s in part because Democrats passed an incomplete budget last year — not wanting to raise taxes or cut spending.

Now Democrats and Republicans — including Gov. Bruce Rauner — say they’ve found a solution. But it continues to mostly avoid that difficult choice.

Brian Mackey

Illinois’ new treasurer said he will not release the results of a taxpayer-funded investigation into his predecessor, Dan Rutherford.

Rich Egger

State Senator Mike Frerichs (D-Urbana) appears to have won the race to be Illinois’ next state treasurer.

Republican investor Bruce Rauner will be the next governor of Illinois — probably. He declared victory over incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn and is up by five percentage points, but the Democrat is refusing to concede.

Rauner made hundreds of millions of dollars as a private equity investor. Lately, though, he’s been investing in himself — spending $27 million of his vast fortune on a quest to become governor of Illinois.

Amanda Vinicky/Illinois Public Radio

2014 was going to be a banner year for direct democracy in Illinois.

Illinois Public Broadcasting

The two leading candidates for Illinois governor met Thursday night in Peoria for the first debate of the election season. Both stuck closely to the ideas they’ve been honing for months on the campaign trail.

An outsider to Illinois politics could be forgiven for thinking Gov. Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner are running for the position of job creator in chief.

Not long ago, it seemed every time a different type of crime started making the news, members of the Illinois General Assembly would rush to increase the penalty for that offense. But today — with prisons stuffed beyond capacity and state finances ailing — lawmakers have begun taking a more deliberate approach. Brian Mackey reports on a criminal sentencing culture change in the Illinois General Assembly.

The Illinois Supreme Court says the free health insurance enjoyed by state retirees is protected by the Illinois Constitution.

Voters will get to weigh in on whether Illinois should raise its minimum wage for adults to $10 an hour. Gov. Pat Quinn approved the ballot question Sunday, and wasted no time campaigning on the issue.

The question is just advisory — lawmakers don’t have to heed the people’s advice — but supporters of the increase say they hope it’ll pressure reluctant legislators to go along.

Critics say this is a ploy to get more Democrats to the polls — since turnout tends to be lower in non-presidential election years.

Brian Mackey

A former state employee Thursday filed more allegations of political and sexual harassment against Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

The credit rating agency Moody's says Illinois is at risk of undermining progress toward better finances. It says the failure to extend current income tax rates could lead to a worsening deficit.

Moody's says because lawmakers failed to stop an automatic tax cut scheduled for the end of the year, Illinois could have to increase its backlog of unpaid bills. The state already has the lowest credit rating in the nation.

Republicans say this shows Illinois needs to further reduce costs, but Democratic Senate President John Cullerton says there isn't that much left to cut.

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