Brian Mackey

Brian Mackey covers Illinois state government and politics from the WUIS Statehouse bureau. 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) 206-6020.

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NPR Story
5:49 am
Wed April 16, 2014

Durbin Calls For A Return of 'Earmarks'

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin speaks with reporters in this file photo.

Originally published on Tue April 15, 2014 1:43 pm

It's been a few years since Congressional "earmarks" were eliminated from federal transportation spending. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says it's time to bring them back.

Earmarks have a bad name — remember the "bridge to nowhere," a plan to spend nearly $400 million on a bridge to an island in Alaska with 50 residents?

Durbin says earmarks should have been reformed, not eliminated. He says legislators are in touch with the transportation needs of their districts and states.

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Politics
8:27 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Illinois Senate Gets Behind Convention Movement

State Senator William Delgado

The Illinois Senate has joined a push for a national constitutional convention. Organizers say they want to change the way political campaigns are financed.

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NPR Story
4:27 am
Thu April 10, 2014

S&P: Next Two Months 'Critical' For Illinois Finances

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 4:37 pm

A major credit rating agency says the next two months will be "critical" for the future of Illinois' finances. The key question is whether to make a temporary tax hike permanent.

Like most of the big credit rating agencies, Standard & Poor's has been bearish on Illinois finances — lowering the state's credit rating four times in recent years.

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NPR Story
6:30 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Pension Savings Estimate Lowered — But Is It A Big Deal?

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 5:03 am

A new report (PDF) says Illinois' pension overhaul will save less money than advertised. Some politicians are trying to make hay out of that. But it might not be such a big deal.

The pension vote came with promises of big savings — $160 billion. Then, after it was already law, a new analysis of the bill said, well, maybe we'll save $145 billion.

This latest report puts savings even lower, at $137 billion.

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NPR Story
12:23 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Rauner, Quinn Chart Course For Conflict

Republican Bruce Rauner will take on Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn in this fall's election.

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 4:04 am

The election returns in yesterday’s Illinois primary were not even in before the candidates for governor started attacking each other. Republicans chose wealthy investor Bruce Rauner to take on Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn. Brian Mackey looks at the surprisingly close election results, and what’s ahead for the campaign.

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NPR Story
6:52 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Why Are Republicans Avoiding Social Issues?

The four candidates for governor seem to be downplaying social issues in this year's Republican primary.

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 3:39 pm

Illinois' economy has been topic A among the men seeking the Republican nomination for governor. Getting far less attention are social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. For a party whose rough primaries have often been compared to “circular firing squads,” the lack of focus on the topic is unusual. Brian Mackey looks at what’s behind the social silence.

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NPR Story
1:35 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Candidates Disagree On Government Unions

The men seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Illinois: state Sens. Kirk Dillard and Bill Brady, investor Bruce Rauner, and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford.

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 8:27 am

Illinois' primary election is less than two weeks away. The four men seeking the Republican nomination for governor agree on a lot of topics. But there is an issue in which one of the candidates has distinguished himself: government-employee unions. Brian Mackey takes us inside the debate over whether government workers ought to be able to negotiate over their jobs.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time listening to investor Bruce Rauner to know where he stands on public-sector unions. The disdain drips from a three word phrase he uses again and again and again:

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NPR Story
6:14 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Legislation Targets Conservation Police

Conservation police officers check the license of a trapper in this Department of Natural Resources photo.

Originally published on Mon March 3, 2014 6:03 am

A group of lawmakers is challenging the broad powers enjoyed by Illinois' conservation police officers. At issue is whether the officers can operate on private land without a warrant.

Illinois law lets conservation police enter "all lands and waters" to enforce the Wildlife Code. The idea is, even if you have a huge private forest, you’re not allowed to, say, shoot a deer out of season.

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NPR Story
4:00 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Dillard Picks Up Teachers' Endorsement; Rauner Still Pouring Own Money Into Race

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard, a state senator from Hinsdale, accepts the endorsement of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association Wednesday in the Illinois Capitol.

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 1:54 pm

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard got the endorsement of a retired group of teachers Wednesday. But he’s still lagging front-runner Bruce Rauner, who continues to tap his significant personal fortune for his campaign.

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NPR Story
5:28 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Audit Slams Anti-Violence Program Pushed By Quinn

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 11:50 pm

An audit Tuesday criticized an anti-violence program Governor Pat Quinn pushed during his 2010 election campaign.Republicans wasted no time in calling for an investigation.

The non-partisan audit (PDF) says the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative was "hastily implemented" and did not use standard financial safeguards.

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