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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Attorney General Lisa Madigan argued in court Tuesday that paying state employees removes “any imperative” for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and the General Assembly to “fulfill their basic constitutional obligations ... and resolve their budget impasse.”

Madigan is trying to halt state employee paychecks. She said only the General Assembly can approve state spending, which means Illinois does not have the legal authority to make payroll.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

The cases involve two groups: one which has been getting paid; and another which hasn’t, but wants to.

Today's case before the appellate court in Mount Vernon, involves state employees. Lawyers from Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office are arguing against a ruling that said these workers must be paid. 

Normally, their salaries must be appropriated by the legislature; when that didn’t happen in 2015, the AFSCME union convinced a judge to order that the payments be made.

Rauner Signs Bill Reforming Bail Procedure

Jun 12, 2017

A new law in Illinois will make it easier for lower-income individuals charged with violations to be released while awaiting trial.

The bill was signed Friday by Gov. Bruce Rauner and took effect immediately.

Until now, bail in Illinois often came down to money. An accused person who had it could be released while waiting for a court date. But those without funds would spend that time locked up. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said people should only be in jail if they’re dangerous or a flight risk.

Members of the Illinois House heard stories yesterday of misery resulting from nearly two years without a state budget. Democrats used the opportunity to attack Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The message came from people with drug addiction, domestic-violence counselors, and parents of disabled children — like Kathy Hansen of Elmhurst.

“We are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and family members who can’t sleep at night because the state has virtually abandoned our loved ones,” she said.

Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois is nearing the start of a third fiscal year without a budget. This has resulted in a backlog of unpaid bills, and unfavorable judgment by credit agencies.

 

As of last week, the state owes an outstanding $14.5 billion, and only $18 million is available to make payments.  State Comptroller Susana Mendoza said a court case asking healthcare organizations to be paid first may push the state to the breaking point.  

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