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.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

In the week since his budget address, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has done little to promote his plan or defend it from attacks by Democrats.

That’s a significant departure from last year.  Back then, Rauner toured the state, highlighting his call for greater toured the state, highlighting his call for greater funding of public schools. This year, he took a ski vacation in Utah.

On Wednesday, Rauner made a brief speech at an education conference in Springfield.  Afterward, he refused to answer questions from reporters.

City governments across Illinois are asking to have their state funding passed along automatically. It’s the latest consequence of Illinois’ 20-month budget stalemate.

The money in question comes from taxes on gasoline, phone bills, and gambling. Normally, it's collected by the state and passed along to local governments.  However, the lack of a state budget has complicated this process.  

Dan Stroud / (cc-by-nc)

A group of Illinois lawmakers are pushing an agenda intended to help farmers who sell at local markets.

Their legislation covers a variety of issues. One bill would set uniform fees and sanitation requirements at farmers markets across the state.

Lindsay Record, director of the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, says more people are going to farmers markets, but that isn't translating into better business.

“We actually received reports from across the states from farmers that sales are down," Record says. "So people are there, but maybe they aren’t purchasing.”

Carl Nelson / WNIJ

Gov. Bruce Rauner finally weighed in on a bipartisan deal meant to end the Illinois budget stalemate.

But in Wednesday’s budget address, he shot down a key component of the compromise.

Rauner was kept out of the Senate negotiations from the start. He has since praised them in general but refused to get into specifics -- until now.

In his budget speech to the General Assembly, Rauner said he does support expanding the state sales tax to cover more services — but opposes taxing groceries and drugs.

Brian Mackey/Illinois Public Radio

Governor Bruce Rauner makes his annual budget address today before the Illinois General Assembly.

Democrats, such as Comptroller Susana Mendoza, say Rauner has never introduced a balanced budget.

"The governor's job is to introduce a balanced budget," she said. "He hasn't done that, and there's no way to sugarcoat that.  That is not an alternative fact; that is a true fact."

Rauner disagrees.  

“There's this common spin out there that I've never submitted a budget, or I’ve never submitted a balanced budget," he said.   This spin is wrong."