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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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.”

Several Democrats running for governor of Illinois are proposing the state enact universal healthcare.

J.B. Pritzker is the latest to bring out a plan. He wants to let anyone buy into the Medicaid program, which is currently limited to the poor, elderly and disabled. 

However, two other Democratic candidates said Pritzker's plan doesn't go far enough. State Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston and Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar said Illinois should create its own single-payer plan. That’s where all healthcare is paid for by the government, instead of private insurance. 

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois is making good on some of its most overdue bills: compensating people who were unjustly imprisoned.

When prisoners have done their time, Illinois gives them “gate money” — enough for a bus ride home. But no such courtesy is offered to people who are freed after a wrongful conviction.

“I had $14 and I believe 70-some cents on my prison account at the time,” said James Kluppelberg, who spent 25 years in prison for someone else’s crimes. “They handed that to me, and they opened the door and they said: ‘Leave.’”

Talk Radio News Service

Anyone who’s ever listened to a Chicago traffic report knows the names — Edens, Eisenhower, Stevenson, Ryan. Now, an addition: the Barack Obama Presidential Expressway.

That’s the official designation for Interstate 55, from I-294 in the Chicago suburbs south to mile marker 202, near the City of Pontiac. State Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, said it’s a route the former state Senator would be familiar with.

“President Obama traveled 55 on his way to Springfield," said Ford.