Brian Mackey

Brian Mackey covers state government and politics for Illinois Issues magazine, 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.

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Construction Program Approved
6:55 am
Sat May 31, 2014

General Assembly Adjourns With Much Undone

House Speaker Michael Madigan addresses his colleagues at the close of the Illinois General Assembly's spring session.

Originally published on Sat May 31, 2014 2:45 am

The General Assembly finished its legislative session shortly after midnight Saturday, approving a billion-dollar road construction program.

Democrats started the session with an ambitious agenda: raise the minimum wage, boost college assistance for low-income students, maybe even change Illinois' flat tax into a graduated one. In the end, none of that happened.

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Government
7:14 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Illinois Lawmakers Prepare To Wrap Up Session

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton

The Illinois General Assembly is winding down its spring legislative session Friday, and could wrap up a day ahead of Saturday's scheduled adjournment. Observers say just a few big issues remain.

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NPR Story
3:56 am
Wed May 28, 2014

House Democrats Reject Gov's Budget Ultimatum

The floor of the Illinois House during Tuesday's debate over the FY15 budget.

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 11:16 pm

Two months after Governor Pat Quinn laid out his vision for Illinois' budget, the House of Representatives has approved a state spending plan. Quinn presented two options: make 2011's temporary tax hike permanent, or make steep cuts across government. Lawmakers considered those options and chose ... neither.

Quinn has been clear about the potential consequences of letting Illinois' income tax rate drop, as it's scheduled to do at the end of the year.

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Income tax hike kicked down the road?
5:50 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

House Approves 2015 Illinois Budget

Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago, presents budget legislation Tuesday in the Illinois House of Representatives.
Credit Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Illinois House members went from “doomsday” to “middle-of-the-road” when they approved a scaled-back budget for 2015. 

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NPR Story
4:56 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Speaker Wants 'Millionaire Tax' Referendum

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 3:56 pm

House Speaker Michael Madigan wants voters to weigh in on his so-called "millionaires' tax" at the November elections.

The referendum would ask if income greater than a million dollars should be taxed an additional three percent, with the money going to schools.

Earlier this year, Madigan tried to put this before voters as a constitutional amendment, but he says there wasn't enough support in the House.

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NPR Story
3:57 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Quinn Pitches Tax Plan To House Democrats

Gov. Pat Quinn speaks with reporters Monday in the Capitol after meeting with House Democrats for more than two-and-a-half hours.

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 11:27 pm

Gov. Pat Quinn appealed directly to Democrats in the Illinois House Monday evening. He’s struggling to win support for his plan to extend Illinois’ higher income tax rate.

The governor appeared at a closed meeting of the Illinois House Democratic caucus.

Quinn is trying to win the support of the 60 Democrats required to make Illinois’ 5 percent income-tax rate permanent — instead of letting it decline by more than a percentage point as scheduled at the end of the year. Quinn warns without the higher tax rate, there will have to be drastic cuts in state services.

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NPR Story
4:29 am
Thu May 15, 2014

House Democrats Play Coy On Taxes

Originally published on Wed May 14, 2014 9:35 pm

Illinois House Democrats are assembling a budget plan for state government. But a big piece of the puzzle is being left out.

The plan makes it seem obvious House Democrats have heeded Gov. Pat Quinn's call to keep the income tax rate at 5 percent. Except they won't actually say that out loud.

Rep. Greg Harris of Chicago typified the coyness.

"This always comes own to the last couple weeks," he says, "and we have to look at different sources of revenue. We have to look at: Do we add here? Do we cut there?"

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NPR Story
4:08 am
Tue May 13, 2014

Buy A Car On Sunday? Dealers Say No

Car dealers could legally operate on Sundays in Illinois until the law was changed in 1982.

Originally published on Tue May 13, 2014 6:04 am

An Illinois lawmakers is trying to change state law so car dealers can be open on Sundays. But he's facing long odds.

When Sen. Jim Oberweis, from Sugar Grove, learned it was against the law for a car dealer to be open on Sunday, his Republican instincts kicked in.

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NPR Story
4:06 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Jury Duty: ¿Se Habla Español?

Cook County is among the locations where jurors would be allowed to serve with translators.

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 3:52 pm

Jury duty could soon be open to people who are not fluent in the English language. The Illinois Senate today approved a pilot program to provide translators for jurors.

Illinois law currently says jurors must be able to "understand the English language." This proposal would allow jurors who speak other languages to have interpreters.

It's the idea of Dan Locallo, a retired Cook County judge.

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NPR Story
4:37 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Holocaust Survivor Tells Of Shanghai Ghetto

Doris Fogel, in foreground, recounts her childhood as a refugee from the Nazis, spent among 20,000 Jews in the Shanghai ghetto. Behind her is Gov. Pat Quinn. The annual Holocaust Memorial Ceremony took place in the House chamber of the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

Originally published on Fri May 2, 2014 6:03 am

Illinois officials are remembering the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. An annual ceremony took place Thursday in Springfield's Old State Capitol.

Praying: "Y'hey sh'lama raba min sh'ma-ya ..."

The ceremony included the Kaddish — a Jewish prayer of mourning. Gov. Pat Quinn and other officials spoke. Then a survivor shared her story.

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