Brian Mackey

Brian Mackey covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

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Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Schools are still waiting on their main payment from Illinois government, as Democrats and Republicans continue to fight over how to divvy up the money.

The state Senate has announced it’ll take up the matter Sunday, but Illinois already missed a deadline.

That came and went Thursday, when state Comptroller Susana Mendoza said for the first time in Illinois history, her office could not send schools their first round of funding.

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Part of the recently passed state budget calls for borrowing to pay down more than $14 billion in outstanding bills — saving the state millions in late payment penalties.

But Gov. Rauner has to start that process, and this week he cast doubt on whether he will.

“More borrowing, in and of itself, is not the answer," Rauner told reporters Monday.

Those overdue bills were a big factor in why many Republicans defied Rauner to help Democrats pass the budget.

Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, points to the $800 million in penalties accumulated by the state. 

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is urging Gov. Bruce Rauner to step up the pace in dealing with the state’s debt.

She’s urging him to borrow money — authorized by the new budget — in order to begin paying off more than $14 billion dollars in overdue bills.

"You should know that this debt is costing you, the taxpayer, $2 million a day, at up to 12 percent interest in late-payment interest penalties," Mendoza said Monday in a video posted online.

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is calling on Gov. Bruce Rauner to take a more active role in paying down the state’s unpaid bills.

Illinois's new budget authorizes the state to issue bonds to begin paying down its debts, but that process has to start with Rauner’s budget office.

Mendoza, a Democrat, basically said the Republican administration is dragging its feet.

“Every day that goes by without the capital from the new bonds being issued is costing taxpayers an additional $2 million a day," she said.

Katherine Johnson/ CC By 2.0 / Flickr

Years of budget cuts and deferred maintenance at the Illinois State Fair have led to a series of problems at the fairgrounds. But officials say they’ll be ready when the fair opens in one week.

State Fair manager Kevin Gordon didn't mince words: “Honestly, the last year and half has been challenging," he said. "OK? I’ll be the first to say it.”

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