Illinois Legislature

Illinois legislators will vote a second time on a plan to spend $100 million to help lure Barack Obama's Presidential Library and Museum to Chicago, following a controversy.

A lesson in politics: Whichever party is in charge can often use the rules to its advantage. Like last week, when the Obama library proposal passed out of a Democratic-controlled House committee with nine votes ... even though only five representatives were there. Republicans had skipped the hearing, and many say they're opposed to spending the money given Illinois' financial situation.

  House Speaker Michael Madigan says there is "strong support" in the chamber for a hike in Illinois' minimum wage. That's one of the big issues in the governor's race.

Businesses don't like it, but a plan to raise Illinois' minimum wage from $8.25, to $10.65 an hour, is before the General Assembly.

Advocates continue to try to drum up the necessary votes.

Shankar S. / Flickr Creative Commons

Illinois lawmakers are considering ending the state’s ban on Sunday automobile sales.

A new report (PDF) says Illinois' pension overhaul will save less money than advertised. Some politicians are trying to make hay out of that. But it might not be such a big deal.

The pension vote came with promises of big savings — $160 billion. Then, after it was already law, a new analysis of the bill said, well, maybe we'll save $145 billion.

This latest report puts savings even lower, at $137 billion.

One of the top Democrats in the Illinois legislature is calling for a "millionaire's tax."

Reducing the Number of State Laws Not So Simple

Mar 16, 2014

The name “lawmaker” implies someone who helps pass laws.  But some who serve in the role are critical of that part of the job description.

Proposed Tax on Sugar-Laden Drinks

Feb 20, 2014

As Illinois' healthcare costs expand, lawmakers are considering an unusual way to save money: a tax on sugary drinks.

Illinois legislators will return to Springfield this week.  It will be their first meeting this year.

The 2013 session of the Illinois General Assembly will more likely be remembered for what was not accomplished than for what was done.

Pension Reform Moves Ahead in Illinois

May 9, 2013

The Illinois Senate has approved an overhaul of the state's pension systems.  

Illinois lawmakers began November with an election that solidified Democratic majorities and they will finish the month by returning to the Capitol. 

Their annual fall meetings are called veto sessions because lawmakers are supposed to consider legislation the governor rejected or changed.  Those could include statewide regulation of plastic bags and a plan to let cancer treatment centers reject job applicants who smoke.

No pension legislation moved through the Illinois General Assembly during Friday's special legislative session.

Democrats pushed along a plan to cut pension benefits for  state elected politicians and no one else, but opponents -- including Representative Darlene Senger (R-Naperville) -- called the proposal disingenuous.

"I am not going to vote for this. I think it's a farce," said Senger.

"I think we're basically coming out and saying we're doing something and we're absolutely not, and it's a real disservice for those who live in this state."

Rich Egger

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's office is touting a one-page analysis claiming higher education will suffer if lawmakers fail to address Illinois' pension problem.

In the so-called study, Quinn's budget office estimates that state funding of higher education will steadily decline over the next five years.

The projections show more money would be needed to pay for university and community college employees' pensions, which would leave less for schools and scholarships for needy students.

Illinois lawmakers worked 90 minutes overtime to complete work on the new state budget. But they still have not addressed concerns with the state's pension system.

The Budget

The  Democratic budget imposes cuts throughout state government. But Republicans say the high spending levels mean the temporary income tax increase will have to be made permanent.

Democrats were attacked from within, too.

Democratic Senator Kimberly Lightford railed against what she said is too little money for higher education.

More than 1,000 child care providers, home health care workers and others opposed to human service funding cuts rallied in Springfield on May 15.

 One of the protesters is Faith Arnold, who is a childcare provider. She said 95% of the families she serves rely on state subsidies. She said uncertainty over state money is having an impact on those who run child care operations.