Top News

State income tax headed back to 5 percent? Madigan drops that number during Chicago speech

Mark Fitton Dec. 10, 2015, 8:10am

SPRINGFIELD — Michael Madigan on Wednesday tossed out one possibility for new Illinois tax money, a bump in the income tax rate. In fact, he said raising the personal income tax by 33 percent would a good spot to start talking.

House OKs $3B for locals, lottery winners; Larger state budget question remains unresolved

Mark Fitton Dec. 3, 2015, 7:02am

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois remains without an overall budget, but the Illinois House on Wednesday took action to release some money to local governments and pay lottery winners. All told, Senate Bill 2039 authorizes about $3 billion in spending.

Unemployment bill easily clears Illinois House

Mark Fitton Dec. 2, 2015, 4:38pm

SPRINGFIELD — Without rancor, the Illinois House on Wednesday passed legislation to tune up the state’s unemployment insurance program. The legislation sponsored by Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville, eliminates the “Social Security offset” in that it allows recently separated workers eligible for Social Security to receive full unemployment insurance benefits.

LeChien: State must pay insurance contributions; Criticizes Springfield’s 'fiddle while burning posture'

Mark Fitton Dec. 1, 2015, 7:04am

SPRINGFIELD — St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien has ordered the state to pay its health insurance contributions for home health care workers. The request for that order was filed earlier in November by the union that represents the workers, SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana.

Rauner reaches labor deals, but still in fight with AFSCME

Mark Fitton Nov. 19, 2015, 8:15am

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration on Wednesday announced it has reached new four-year deals with several trade unions, as well as with Service Employees International Union Local 1 of Chicago and the International Union of United Food and Commercial Workers.

Rauner, L. Madigan lawyers duel in letters; At issue: Can Rauner file ‘friend of the court’ brief?

Mark Fitton Oct. 19, 2015, 8:33am

SPRINGFIELD — Top lawyers for Illinois’ Republican governor and Democratic attorney general are in a dustup over the governor’s office filing a “friend of the court” brief with the U.S.

IOU balloon: State limits Lottery payouts to $600 or less

Mark Fitton Oct. 16, 2015, 7:25am

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Lottery players who hit a winner worth more than $600 will have to settle for a promise. As of Thursday, retailers will still pay out winners of $600 or less from their cash registers, but winners of bigger amounts will have to wait until the state has a budget.

Rauner: Time to sell Thompson Center; Architect, former governor less than thrilled

Mark Fitton Oct. 14, 2015, 7:14am

SPRINGFIELD — Need a full city block in Chicago’s Loop? Gov. Bruce Rauner may have a deal for you. Rauner, R-Winnetka, on Tuesday announced his plan to sell the James R.

Simon Poll: Southern Illinoisans are ticked off; Eighty percent unhappy with direction of state, nation

Mark Fitton Oct. 13, 2015, 6:46am

“These results probably reflect some of Illinois’ current conflicts. Most polls show that more people feel their state is doing better than the nation. Not here,” said John Jackson, a visiting professor at the institute.

Rauner tries to crank up the pressure; Democrats say he’s peddling old material

Mark Fitton Oct. 8, 2015, 7:12am

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday painted his side of the budget-impasse picture, saying that while his department heads are saving the state millions, he needs his agenda items to restore faith in Illinois government and invigorate the economy. Democrats said the governor’s speech was just more of the same and argued that Rauner needs to address the budget crisis without making his proposals preconditions.

State museums, Sparta shooting fields will close despite pause in layoffs

Mark Fitton Sep. 28, 2015, 7:35am

SPRINGFIELD -- A pause in state layoffs won’t stop the planned closures of the state’s museum system nor its shooting facilities near Sparta, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has announced. The state museum in Springfield, four related facilities around the state and the World Shooting and Recreational Complex at Sparta in Southern Illinois are under the control of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which reports to the governor.

House hears first details of Emanuel plan; Chicago mayor’s tax proposal does have some foes

Mark Fitton Sep. 24, 2015, 7:44pm

SPRINGFIELD — Thursday marked another day of activity but little visible movement in the state Capitol. The House Revenue and Finance committee began hearing testimony on a call from the city of Chicago for an increase in the general homestead property tax exemption, or amount the state subtracts from homeowner’s assessed valuation as a form of tax break.

It’s back to court for state and its unions; AFSCME and others seek wages, increases, med payments

Mark Fitton Sep. 21, 2015, 7:08am

State employee unions have returned to court in an effort to lock in continued pay for the fiscal year, get medical claims paid, stop layoffs and retain step pay raises and semi-automatic promotions despite lack of a contract. At the end of June, Illinois entered fiscal year 2016 without a budget and without new labor contracts, and its biggest unions sought to make sure their members in state government continued to be paid. The unions have so far succeeded in the courts, and their members co

Dems fail to override bargaining bill veto; GOP stays united, effort falls three votes short

Mark Fitton Sep. 3, 2015, 6:29am

SPRINGFIELD — House Democrats on Wednesday came up three votes short in their attempt to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the “no strike-no lockout” or interest arbitration bill. Although knowing the attendance put him one Democrat shy of his full 71 members present — the same number of votes needed for a successful override attempt — House Speaker Michael Madigan let the vote roll forward. Backers of Senate Bill 1229 put up 67 votes in the House when the bill originally passed.

Rauner-led GOP, Democrats about to square off; Going in, margins on override vote look razor thin

Mark Fitton Sep. 2, 2015, 11:07am

SPRINGFIELD — At the moment, one four-digit number — 1229 — is the watchword for the struggle between first-year Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrats who hold supermajorities in the General Assembly. That struggle is anticipated to come to a head Wednesday in the House, when Democrats are expected to attempt an override of Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1229, the interest arbitration or “no-strike/no-lockout” bill. The measure would allow mandatory arbitration should either the state o

Lawmaker: State can raise $3.9B without taxing most; But GOP, big business may not to rush to embrace plan

Mark Fitton Sep. 1, 2015, 7:24am

SPRINGFIELD — Rep. Jack Franks thinks he’s found a path to lead Illinois out of its budget wasteland or least get it well along the way. Franks, a Democrat from Marengo, says he’s working on a bill that could generate nearly $3.9 billion without raising taxes. “I think this is the path out,” Franks said.

State only paying out Lottery prizes of less than $25,000

Mark Fitton Aug. 31, 2015, 12:29pm

SPRINGFIELD — Win the Lottery? You might want to hold off on that new bass boat, dream house or even paying off any big debts.

Rauner offers new legislative package; Democrats say ‘no,’ it’s more of the same

Mark Fitton Aug. 17, 2015, 8:42pm

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday said he’s again proposing legislation for a two-year freeze on local property taxes combined with what he calls local cost controls. This time, the governor added what it appears he hoped would be sweeteners for the financially troubled Chicago Public Schools system, including two years worth of CPS pension payments made by the state at about $200 million each.

Rauner, Madigan scrapping again; Federal spending bill basis for latest tussle

Mark Fitton Aug. 12, 2015, 6:49am

SPRINGFIELD — The governor and House Democrats are going at it again. This time, it’s over an attempt by the House Democrats to change Senate Bill 2042, the measure the Senate easily passed last week to authorize the state to spend about $4.8 billion in federal money otherwise being held up by the lack of state budget. Rauner likes the legislation the way the Senate passed it.

State employees get another win in pay dispute; Fifth District upholds LeChien

Mark Fitton Jul. 28, 2015, 8:49am

SPRINGFIELD — State employees can keep getting their regular paychecks for the near future, another state court has ruled. In a ruling entered Friday, the Fifth District Appellate Court refused to overturn a circuit court’s order that state employees continue to be paid — despite the lack of a state budget — while those employees pursue a lawsuit.