WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Illinois Senate

There was another setback Wednesday for efforts to end Illinois' budget stalemate.

Senate Democrats attempted a series of test votes on items in the so-called “grand bargain.” But Republicans refused to go along, saying more negotiation is needed to reach a deal they can support.

Illinois Senate Democrats are hoping to win bipartisan support for a partial government spending plan.

The proposal would release more than $800 million that’s been collected in special state accounts for higher education and human services, areas that have been particularly squeezed during the 22-month budget stalemate.

The Illinois Senate’s so-called grand bargain was put on hold Wednesday. After months of negotiations and a deadline from their own caucus leader, Senate Republicans say they aren't quite ready to vote.

Democrats blame the last-minute withdrawal on interference by Gov. Bruce Rauner. 

The Illinois Senate made progress Tuesday on its so-called grand bargain.

T.J. Carson

Illinois' newest State Senator was officially sworn in to office Thursday in front of family and supporters.   Chuck  Weaver took the Oath of Office at the Peoria County Courthouse.

  Illinois Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) says he's come to an agreement on state spending with the speaker of the Illinois House. But Cullerton is leaving the door open for an income tax hike after the November election.

Rich Egger

The incumbent for an Illinois Senate seat in western Illinois is John Sullivan (D-Rushville). He is completing his third term in the Senate.

Sullivan said progress has been made during his time in the Legislature but there is more to do, which is why he is running for a fourth term.

Sullivan said NTN Bower in Macomb and Farmland Foods in Monmouth have expanded while he's been in office and Pella brought a new plant to Macomb. He said the state offers job creation incentives and he's worked to make sure some of that money has come to his district.

Rich Egger

The challenger for an Illinois Senate seat in western Illinois is Randy Frese (R-Paloma). He is completing his second term as Adams County Circuit Clerk.

Frese said he is running for the Senate because state leaders are squandering opportunities for future generations, including his three daughters.

"We are just tremendously over our heads in debt in this state. There is not an area you can turn to that isn't getting paid or is backlogged for their payment. It's terrible," Frese said. "It's sad to see what's happening to the state of Illinois."

The Illinois Senate has approved legislation that will require retired state employees to pay premiums on their health insurance.

Governor Pat Quinn says he will sign the bill into law.

The state says 90% of retired state and university employees don't pay any premiums for their health insurance. That is estimated to cost at least $800 million this year.

Supporters of the legislation says it preserves access to health care for retirees. Otherwise, co-payments would rise and coverage might be reduced.

An Illinois Senate panel is supporting legislation (HB 3810) that would end a perk that lets legislators hand out free tuition at state universities.

The House has voted to get rid of the scandal-plagued program three years running. But previous attempts have been blocked by Senate Democrats -- until now.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said problems with the scholarships are well-documented.