Brian Mackey

Brian Mackey covers state government and politics for 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.

Subscribe to Brian Mackey's State of the State podcast on WUIS' podcast page, or by copying this URL into iTunes or any other podcast app.

Brian Mackey/Illinois Public Radio

Partisan gridlock has caused Illinois to run without a full budget for more than a year-and-a-half. But there's one area Democrats and Republicans are working together.

It's one of the rare bright spots in Springfield: Members of both parties have been coming together to improve the criminal justice system.

"I think that's right. In fact, in the bill that you just called me about -- there was very strong bipartisan support."

Representative Barbara Flynn Currie is majority leader in the Illinois House. The "bill" she referred to is now a law.

flickr user / Michael Coghlan "Prison Bars" (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Any day now, Governor Bruce Rauner's criminal justice reform commission is expected to release its final set of recommendations.

It's trying to figure out how to safely reduce Illinois' prison population by 25 percent over the next decade. 

The commission came out with a relatively easy set of recommendations last year. This round of ideas could be more politically difficult.

For example: reducing so-called drug-free zones around schools, parks and churches from a thousand feet to 500 feet.

A member of the Constitution Party announced his candidacy for the 2018 Illinois gubernatorial race.  

This comes as incumbent GOP Governor Bruce Rauner deposited $50 million into his campaign account and several Democrats consider whether they'll run against him.   

Randy Stufflebeam says the dysfunction in state government presents an opportunity for a third-party run. He says this is because Democrats and Republicans are engaging in "the betrayal of our constitutions."  

State government is projected to spend as much as 13 billion dollars more than it will collect in taxes this year. That's according to a recent report by the General Assembly's bipartisan budget analysts.  

Revenue manager Jim Muschinske notes that collection of sales tax has been essentially flat from July through November.  

“Seventy percent of the economy is driven by the consumer, so anytime they take a pause, it’s a little bit of a concern," he says. 

He also says there's low performance with income and corporate taxes.  

The Illinois Hospital Association says there could be significant fiscal and human consequences if Obamacare is repealed and there's no replacement plan.  

President-elect Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans made repealing the Affordable Care Act a key plank in their campaigns. IHA President A.J. Wilhelmi says that could be an expensive proposition.  

"Hospitals faced with cuts have tough decisions to make, and those decisions include laying off staff, reducing services, and putting projects on hold for infrastructure improvement."

Pages