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

It’s been 10 months since the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s last attempt at a pension overhaul. Legislators have yet to decide what to do about Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension debt, but they are beginning to weigh their options.

One set of proposals would let employees collect their pension as a single payment when they retire.

A police group says the lack of a state budget is making Illinois a more dangerous place to live.

Rauner touted proposals that would begin to inch toward his goal of reducing Illinois’ prison population by 25 percent over the next decade. But elsewhere in the Capitol, law enforcement officials warned that the lack of a state budget means crime prevention programs are shutting down.

“I am upset at the governor," Tom Weitzel, the police chief in Riverside, said.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin paid tribute to the late Justice Antonin Scalia yesterday.

He says Scalia was a bright, funny and dedicated public servant — though they disagreed on many issues.

But Durbin says he cannot understand why Senate Republicans have vowed to block anyone President Barack Obama nominates to the vacancy.

“Obama was elected for four years. He has eleven months or so left in this term. There’s more than enough time for him to prepare a nominee, submit it to the Senate, go through the orderly process and take a vote," Durbin said.

Gov. Bruce Rauner is scheduled to deliver his budget message to the Illinois General Assembly this Wednesday. In advance of that, interest groups are lining up to plead their case for state funding. On Monday, representatives of the state’s colleges and universities made one such pitch.

Brian Mackey

A group that wants an independent panel to draw Illinois' legislative districts claims support from President Barack Obama.

Obama said politicians should not get to pick their voters in his Springfield speech this week.

He was speaking about federal elections, but the group Independent Maps says this rationale applies to the states.

Obama says politicians' enthusiasm for the idea often depends on whether their party has control of district boundaries.

Click the image to launch a slideshow of White House pool photographs by Justin L. Fowler of The State Journal-Register and Terrence Antonio James of the Chicago Tribune.

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

Illinois’ overcrowded prisons could be a big topic of debate in Springfield next year.

Local advocacy groups have been raising alarms for years.

Now, a Washington-based advocacy group says it’s joining the fray.

Jenna Moll is with the U.S. Justice Action Network. She says there are ways to cut prison populations that actually improve public safety … at a lower cost.

On episode 16 of the State of the State podcast, a commission working on an overhaul of Illinois’ criminal justice system has approved its first set of recommendations.

Illinois House Republicans

The newest Illinois state legislator has been sworn in.

Sara Wojcicki-Jiminez is a Republican from Springfield. She was previously an aide to first lady Diana Rauner and a spokeswoman for the House Republican caucus.

"One of the things that I learned on staff is that I should definitely keep this brief,” she said. “So I am very humbled by the opportunity. I am honored. I look forward to working with everybody in our caucus, and for our friends across the aisle."

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner spoke in public Wednesday for the first time since Tuesday's big summit with legislative leaders. He says he is still defending his decision not to negotiate a budget until Democrats approve his agenda.

Rauner says he's not expecting quick progress in his standoff with Democrats in the General Assembly. The governor says he wants Illinois to be more business-friendly.

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