Political news

Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois' $36 billion budget remains in limbo. Meanwhile, the state's top political leaders have been focusing on a much smaller number -- roughly $250,000 in spending.

That's how much Illinois is set to spend this year paying legislators a raise.

Republicans and Democrats both say the focus over pay is a distraction, while at the same time denouncing each other for enabling excessive salaries.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has consistently used his bully pulpit to try to pin Illinois' problems on the Democratic Speaker of the Illinois House. 

Illinois Tollway

The U.S. Senate is set to take up legislation this week to keep federal highway dollars flowing to Illinois and other states beyond the end of the month.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says two big factors are contributing to the continuing decline of the Interstate Highway system.

First, he says, the federal motor fuel tax has not been increased in more than 22 years.

“The fuel efficiency of vehicles has created a situation where you still have people driving, but the revenue position of the highway trust fund is getting worse and worse,” Foxx said.


Gov. Bruce Rauner wants the legislature's help in making two big changes to the state's constitution, but the Illinois House Speaker isn't on board. It's one of various causes of gridlock at the state capitol.

As a candidate last year, Rauner talked a lot about term limits. Now that he's governor, he's pushing for lawmakers to sign on. The governor often repeats his goal of removing power from what he calls the "political class" -- in particular from House Speaker Michael Madigan.


Illinois 14th District Congressman Randy Hultgren is co-sponsoring a bill to prevent the federal government from discriminating against individuals and groups with religious objections to same-sex marriage. 

The Republican says the First Amendment Defense Act is needed because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.  Hultgren is concerned that those who believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman might themselves become victims of discrimination.  

Ban On Powdered Alcohol, Caffeine Signed By Illinois Governor

Jul 17, 2015

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a ban on powdered alcohol, and restrictions on caffeine in powdered form. Powdered alcohol mixes with liquids to create a beverage like any alcoholic drink. 

Senator Ira Silverstein is a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the legislation. He says he was worried it could be used to drug someone or sprinkled surreptitiously on someone's food.

Makers of powdered alcohol argue it has the same alcoholic content and is regulated the same way as the liquid product.

Brian Mackey/Illinois Public Radio

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed Executive Order 15-16 Thursday, which his administration says will remove a layer of government bureaucracy in hiring civil-service positions.

Illinois Public Radio

Illinois government is about to prove it can function at its most basic level without a budget, at least temporarily; the state will pay its workers on time, and in full, for work performed during the first two weeks of the fiscal year.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said he wanted this to happen even after his June 25th rejection of most of the budget passed by Democrats. Then on July 9, a St. Clair County judge ordered Comptroller Leslie Munger to cut the paychecks.

State of Illinois

Illinois’s child welfare workers are getting caught up in the ongoing budget stalemate in Springfield.

While there’s no spending plan, a federal judge mandated Illinois government to keep funding child welfare. That’s including checking on allegations of child abuse or neglect.

Contractors have been told to keep doing that work at the same funding level.

In the meantime, the state’s Department of Children and Family Services is telling them to prepare for 10 percent cuts.

Illinois State Museum / state of Illinois

Supporters of the Illinois State Museum told state legislators Monday about a slew of reasons why it should remain open, but it doesn't appear like anyone who will make the decision on its future was there to hear much of it. 

Gov. Bruce Rauner targeted the museum and its collections center. But advocates told lawmakers at a public hearing that shutting down the museum would open the door to lawsuits.

Rauner's Dept. of Natural Resources Director Wayne Rosenthal was the first to testify.


Illinois's high court has been asked to decide once and for all whether Illinois can pay government workers when there's no state budget.

Despite the budget impasse, state employees are getting their paychecks for July. The Comptroller's office says that's thanks to a decision from a St. Clair County judge.

But a Cook County judge had the opposite take, and ruled that without a budget, Illinois loses authority to pay all workers.