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.

Subscribe to Brian Mackey's State of the State podcast on WUIS' podcast page, or by copying this URL into iTunes or any other podcast app.

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / "Money" (CC v. 2.0)

Illinois has gone 19 months without a budget, and a credit rating agency says that's further deteriorating the state's fiscal status.  

Analysts at S&P Global Ratings say the American economy had about eight years of growth since the recession. Many states have used that time to pay off debt and build up reserves.  But S&P’s Gabe Petek says Illinois has gone in the opposite direction, letting its debt balloon.

Flickr user Jim Bowen / "Illinois State Capitol" (CC BY 2.0)

The Civic Federation of Chicago has laid out a map to lead Illinois out of the fiscal abyss.

The non-partisan government research organization says Illinois’ biggest problem is state government’s failure to pass a budget for going on two years.

Laurence Msall, executive director of the Civic Federation, says the state needs a combination of spending limits and higher taxes to begin slowly restoring its finances.

The attempt by Illinois House Democrats to make sure state workers can be paid without a budget was suspended Thursday in the face of opposition from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

A court order has kept paychecks flowing since July 2015, but Attorney General Lisa Madigan is asking a judge to review that decision.

Rauner says he wants workers to be paid, but he came out hard against the Democratic plan, which would assure their paychecks only through June 30.

durbin.senate.gov

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin voted against two of President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees Wednesday.

In the morning, Durbin and all Democrats on the Judiciary Committee voted against Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions.

It came days after Trump fired the acting Attorney General for refusing to enforce the president’s order on refugees and immigration.

"This is a constitutional moment, and a challenge to us to envision what the next attorney general will be facing in the remaining three years and 11 months with this president," Durbin said.

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Moody’s Analytics says Illinois is among the Midwest’s “weakest links.”  That’s according to a report prepared for the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (the legislature's nonpartisan research group). 

State economist Ed Boss acknowledges that an economic downturn could undo any progress toward a balanced budget. 

“I think even though the forecast that Moody’s gives is for some improvement next year, it’s not much," he said. "It’s still a pretty dismal picture."

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