Brian Mackey

Brian Mackey covers state government and politics for Illinois Issues magazine, WUIS and a dozen other public radio stations across Illinois. 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) 206-6412.

AFSCME

Government labor unions lost a fight with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner yesterday.

AFSCME and other unions say the governor is making unreasonable demands in contract negotiations. But the governor and like-minded Republicans, such as Representative Jeanne Ives of Wheaton, say unions are asking for more than Illinois can afford.

"Some of you are going to be winners, and some of you are going to be losers,” Ives said. “And what you're going to lose is your livelihood, because there's no other way to pay for this."

WUIS

A government labor union says it's confident the Illinois House will side with it over Gov. Bruce Rauner. A key vote on whether to override Rauner's veto of a union-backed bill is expected Wednesday.

The legislation would bar unions from striking and prohibit the governor from locking workers out. Instead, if the parties can’t agree on a contract, an arbitrator would decide.

Illinois legislators are considering whether local governments should be allowed to declare bankruptcy. Members of the Illinois House heard from dueling experts Tuesday.

It’s rare for cities and towns to declare what’s known as a Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

William Brandt, a bankruptcy consultant, says when it does happen, it's really just an “abrogation of political will” by elected officials.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois Senate on Wednesday rebuked Governor Bruce Rauner in his labor negotiations with the state's biggest government-employee union.

Unions and Democrats say it would even the playing field for state workers negotiating a new contract with Gov. Bruce Rauner. Rauner and Republicans say it would unnecessarily tie his hands.

After months of negotiations have failed to reach an agreement, unions want legislation that would let an arbitrator resolve intractable disputes.

Rauner vetoed it, saying it would tie his hands. He also promised not to lock workers out.

Illinois officials say the threat of bird flu required limits on poultry at this year’s Illinois State Fair.

This strain of avian influenza entered the U.S. last December. So far it’s infected flocks in all the states surrounding Illinois.

State Department of Agriculture Director Philip Nelson says it’s resulted in 48 million birds either dying or being killed. Because of that, he says bird exhibitions at the state fair will be limited to Illinois birds.

The Illinois State Fair will go on next week. That’s even though the budget stalemate has left officials without the means to fully pay for it.

If you go by the book, state government executives aren’t supposed to spend money unless the legislature specifically authorizes it. But the standoff between the Republican governor and Democratic legislative leaders has meant there is no budget.

Nevertheless, state fair leaders say they’ll find a way to make sure the show goes on.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

Non-profit groups say the ongoing fight over the state budget could lead to tragic consequences for thousands of Illinoisans.

The agencies have state contracts for everything from taking care of people with disabilities to placing children in foster care. But the partisan fight over state spending means they're not being paid.

Al Riddley, on the board of the Illinois Partners for Human Service, says the groups are being led on a "death march."

"Perhaps it's time to change our state motto from 'Land of Lincoln' to 'We Don't Care,'" Riddley says.

Amid Illinois' ongoing budget battle, there was a rare moment of bipartisanship on Tuesday. Members of the Illinois House have voted to block a pay raise for themselves.

Lawmakers are scheduled to get an automatic pay hike this year, and Gov. Bruce Rauner has been relentlessly criticizing Democrats for not voting to block it.

Brian Mackey / WUIS

One of the longest-serving inmates in an Illinois prison was granted parole Thursday. Joseph Bigsby was a teenager in 1973 when he shot and killed a Chicago police officer. Right now, Illinois is holding more than 48,000 inmates. Just 40 of them — less than a tenth of a percent — have been there since 1975 or earlier.

Bigsby had been in that unique class. His case is extraordinary because of who he killed, because it’s rare for men in his position to get parole, and because of his young age when he received essentially a life sentence.

state of Illinois

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.

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