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state of Illinois

Illinois Democrats began to unveil their new state spending plan, which looks a lot like the current one. That's despite Illinois having billions of dollars less, thanks to a rollback of the income tax rate in January. 

Even before the details were made public, Gov. Bruce Rauner's office was out with a statement tearing into the proposal -- and its architect, House Speaker Michael Madigan.

housedem.state.il.us

Despite overall cuts to higher education, "MAP" grants could see an increase in the next fiscal year. The grants help Illinois students -- especially ones from low-income families -- pay for college. 

Democratic Rep. Christian Mitchell from Chicago says this will help get rid of the barrier of access for some students. He says those who qualify and are able to get into college should have the money to go so that they can “be productive citizens.”

Police Body Cameras On Lawmakers' List

May 25, 2015
Chris McDaniel/St. Louis Public Radio

In the wake of officer-involved deaths in Ferguson, Baltimore and New York City, Illinois lawmakers are looking at how to change state laws regarding police officers.

In the final days of the General Assembly's session, Rep. Elgie Sims, Jr., D-Chicago, says he'll sponsor legislation that would require police to wear body cameras. He says the package also would ban law enforcement officers from using chokeholds.

Binding Referendum To Tax Illinois Millionaires Stalls

May 22, 2015
Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / "Money" (CC v. 2.0)

As Illinois lawmakers grapple with a budget shortfall, a measure to impose a tax on millionaires' income stalled.

Adding a surcharge to income over a million dollars to raise more money for Illinois schools was a concept Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan introduced last year, but there wasn't enough support. Now, as Illinois faces a $6 billion budget gap, he brought it back.

"We're simply asking those that have done well in life to help our educational system," Madigan said.

Illinois Public Radio

By the end of this month, Illinois legislators are supposed to be finished with their work. That includes passing a new budget. And lawmakers are complaining that Gov. Bruce Rauner isn’t helping them move that process forward.

Rauner has spent a lot of time since he was sworn in traveling the state selling what he calls his "Turnaround" agenda, with statements like:

"You know we've got a mess on our hands, we've got a financial crisis. But we're going to get through it. We're going to restructure the government."

Flickr user Parker Knight / "Chopperz 10" (CC BY 2.0)

Two tax policy organizations with distinct views released a joint report about Illinois revenue. 

It outlines how taxing services, such as haircuts and pet grooming, could generate up to two point one billion dollars in new annual revenue.

Ralph Martire, who is from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, says Illinois has one of the most narrow tax bases in the country.

WUIS

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has stayed out of the public eye for the past couple of days. But he's making his feelings on the budget known in an article published late Wednesday night.

The Illinois legislative session is scheduled to end  May 31, but Rauner is signaling he's prepared to keep it going much longer. Rauner -- the first Republican governor Illinois has had in a dozen years -- wrote a first-person opinion piece for The State Journal-Register in Springfield.

State Higher Education Budget Remains In ‘Balancing Act’

May 19, 2015
state of Illinois

Illinois lawmakers get back to work this week, with about two weeks left in their spring session to finalize a budget. 

The budget was also on Governor Bruce Rauner’s mind when he visited Southern Illinois University’s Carbondale campus last weekend to deliver a graduation speech.

"We are in that balancing act right now,” Rauner said. “Everybody's going to have to give a little bit. And that's the way the political process should work. We'll come up with bipartisan solutions that are really a compromise."

Sen. Kirk Wants Tougher Authority Against Iran

May 18, 2015
congress.gov

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk wants President Barack Obama to introduce stronger sanctions against Iran. 

The House approved a new bill last week which gives lawmakers the power to review -- and potentially reject -- a nuclear deal with Iran.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and five other nations are currently trying to reach a deal to curb the nuclear program before Iranian officials return to Tehran on June 31.

But Kirk does not think talks with Iran will go anywhere.

pritchardstaterep.org

Five years ago,  the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) created its Public Agenda for College and Career Success, which sets a goal of having 60 percent of Illinois citizens obtain some education beyond high school.  

The ten-year initiative is reaching its halfway point, and Illinois State Rep. Bob Pritchard, a Republican who serves Illinois's 70th district, talked about what's in store. 

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