Political news

state of Illinois

Illinois officials are reviewing dozens of new applications for enterprise zones. 

State law allows a limited number of zones each year aimed at improving conditions in economically depressed areas. Businesses receive tax breaks, such as an exemption for utility taxes.

The proposals are evaluated on several criteria, including a high vacancy rate in industrial or commercial buildings, or being able to offer career programs at high schools.


The Illinois Board of Education is asking for a $730 million increase in its budget next year.

The state superintendent of schools is well aware of the state's financial strain. 

Christopher Koch has been in charge as the state has failed to come through with all the money it's supposed to give to meet local district's  basic needs. But, Koch says, "education is the smartest investment we can make in the economic future of our state."

Both Parties In Illinois React To Obama's State Of The Union

Jan 21, 2015
Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Reactions came quickly from both sides of the aisle after last night’s State of the Union speech. 

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin applauded President Obama’s challenge to Congress to pass specific economic proposals. Durbin says ideas like two free years of community college are hard to vote against. 

Durbin also raised questions about GOP priorities in the new Congress, such as the Keystone XL pipeline. Instead, he says Congress should address shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund.


Illinois Treasurer Mike Frerichs is keeping secret the results of an investigation into his predecessor. 

Former Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s political career imploded after an employee accused him of sexual harassment and political intimidation.

Rutherford, a Republican, denied the allegations and hired a former IRS investigator to look into the charges. He said he’d release the results of that $27,000 investigation — taxpayer funded — but later backtracked, citing the advice of attorneys to keep it secret.

Office of the Illinois Attorney General

Unions and others fighting to prevent Illinois' pension law from taking effect are asking the state Supreme Court to ease up on its accelerated timeline. 

A Sangamon County judge ruled the measure unconstitutional. But Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed paperwork earlier this month that says the state can use "police powers" to cut pensions.

Ten other groups filed briefs backing Madigan’s position. 

John Fitzgerald is an attorney who represents retired public school teachers. He says lawyers need more time to respond to all of those additional arguments.

state of Illinois

The Illinois Department of Revenue has new rules this year to target the collection of sales taxes from out-of-state businesses. 

The new rules that took effect January 1st expand the definition of out-of-state retailers who must register in Illinois and collect sales taxes.

Lawmakers revised the rules last year after the state Supreme Court ruled previous rules singled out online sellers, which violated federal laws. The new rules dropped the word “Internet” and now cover catalog, mail-order and similar retailers, along with online sellers.

Rauner Signs Minorities, Veterans Order

Jan 20, 2015

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed an executive order requiring state agencies and contractors to report how many minorities and veterans are in training and apprentice programs. 

Rauner signed the order yesterday after participating in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day service event.

The measure applies to labor organizations, contractors and subcontractors. They all must report the information within 30 days.


During his campaign, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner continually blamed "union bosses" for contributing to the state's financial woes. 

Now he's making direct appeals to workers. 

It wasn't just the campaign; during his inaugural address, Rauner touched again on what labor leaders consider an anti-union theme. He said Illinois has an ethical crisis because taxpayers “see government union bosses negotiating sweetheart deals across the table from governors they've spent tens of millions of dollars to help elect."

Illinois Youth Voter Turnout Remains Static

Jan 19, 2015
Illinois State Board of Elections

Youth voter turnout didn’t see any huge changes in northern Illinois...for the most part. 

Youth voters between ages 18 and 35 typically make up about 10 to 13 percent of the ballots cast in the U.S. Those statistics still apply within the northern part of the state for the last general election in November. DeKalb County’s youth voters made up about 15 percent of the total ballots cast in the county. Winnebago County’s young voters made up only about one percent of the total.

state of Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner stepped directly into a big budget hole when he was sworn in this week. The state’s about halfway through its fiscal year. 

Illinois' fiscal year goes through June. But before Rauner took over, state agencies had sent signals, they were already running short on cash.

All eyes on are the new governor to see how he deals with what the administration says is a $1.6 billion mid-year hole.