WIUM Tristates Public Radio

John Cullerton

Passing a state budget is arguably the most important thing the Illinois General Assembly does every year — or at least should do every year.

After last year's drama — when a two-year standoff ended with a Republican revolt against Governor Bruce Rauner — it's an open question about how things will go this year.

So I set out to answer a simple question: Will there be another impasse?

There was a rare meeting Thursday among Gov. Bruce Rauner and the top leaders of the Illinois General Assembly.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has been campaigning relentlessly against last year’s income tax increase.

But in his annual budget address Wednesday, he'll call for spending the extra money that rate hike has generated.

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.

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.

Illinois lawmakers are working on a budget for next year, but the state has gone nine months without a budget for this year. Governor Bruce Rauner's office made its case Wednesday before members of the Senate.

Brian Mackey

Republican Governor Bruce Rauner used his State of the State address Wednesday to say he wants to bring competitive balance back to Illinois.

Changing how Illinois funds its schools is Senate President John Cullerton's top priority as a new legislative session gets underway. Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, says Illinois shouldn't fund schools at all next year until it comes with a more equitable way to do it. John Cullerton says the way Illinois funds schools "crushes dreams" and "stifles growth."

Illinois residents will hear from their Governor Wednesday when Bruce Rauner gives his annual state of the state address. It comes at a difficult time in Illinois government: For nearly eight months there has been no budget.

Social service agencies that depend on state funding are closing programs, the backlog of unpaid bills is piling up, and some public universities are moving forward with layoffs.

A new pension plan introduced Thursday by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner as a bipartisan deal immediately crashed and burned. 

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.

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.

Rachel Otwell

Just a few of the budget bills Democrats passed have made it to Governor Bruce Rauner's desk --- where he has the ability to sign them into law, reject them entirely, or cut down the levels of spending.

Brian Mackey / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Illinois' new Republican governor and the Democrats who lead the General Assembly are deadlocked over the right path for the state.

Illinois' legislative session was supposed to be over by now. The schedule published months ago marked Sunday, May 31st as the adjournment date. Legislators typically don't return to Springfield until the fall. Instead, members of the General Assembly will be back beginning Thursday for a "continuous" summer session.

Illinois lawmakers hope to have a second shot at reaching a compromise with public employees over pensions, but the unions are pinning their hopes on the court system.

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.

  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.

The Illinois House will take the lead on whether Illinois keeps its 5 percent income tax. It's scheduled to roll back at the end of this year unless legislators take action.

It's happened in the past. The Illinois Senate will pass a controversial measure -- like a tax hike -- only for it to languish in the House.

Not this time.

Senate President John Cullerton says the Senate will vote on the tax question if and only if it first passes the House.

Lawsuit Filed Over Paycheck Veto

Jul 30, 2013

The leaders of the Illinois House and Senate have filed a lawsuit over Governor Pat Quinn’s veto of legislative salaries.

Pension Plans Advance in Illinois Legislature

Mar 14, 2013

The Illinois Senate has moved forward with a pair of measures (SB 1 and SB 35)  that would strip government workers of some of their pension benefits. The changes would impact state and university employees, as well as downstate and suburban public school teachers.

Rich Egger

Governor Pat Quinn has called lawmakers back to Springfield for a one-day special session to reform the state's pension systems.

But so far he doesn't have a plan beyond that.

"We've had proposals this year, we've had a working group this year, we've had discussions and negotiations this year," Quinn said. 

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.