Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network News

Court: No back pay without appropriation; Ruling nixes decision by arbitrator, lower courts

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Mar 28, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — Reversing two lower courts and an arbitrator, the Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday ruled the state is not on the hook for back-pay raises to some 24,000 employees unless the General Assembly passes an appropriation.

Senate Democrats OK $3.9 billion spending bill; Republicans: Without the cash, it’s a sham

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Mar 18, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — Senate Democrats on Thursday passed a bill to OK nearly $4 billion in state spending while their GOP colleagues called the effort a hoax on the public and even on the institutions the money is intended to benefit.

Higher education officials paint grim picture; Pensions ‘sucking the air’ out of funding, says one

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Mar 11, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — University presidents and other higher education officials on Thursday told lawmakers they must decide what they want from the state’s colleges and universities.

Rauner-backed ideas draw some poll support; Experts: ‘Right-to-work’ numbers somewhat surprising

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Mar 10, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — Three of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s agenda items have traction with voters, at least according to polling data released Wednesday by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Cities, towns seek greater power to act; But Municipal League effort may face tough road

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Feb 25, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — In the midst of Illinois budget crisis, Illinois’ 1,300 cities, towns and villages are seeking greater freedom to act on their own.

Durkin: Impasse can be broken, work comp system a start

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Feb 23, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — House Minority Leader Jim Durkin on Monday suggested the workers’ compensation system might be the point where Republicans and Democrats get together and start breaking the months-long impasse that has left Illinois without a budget.

Rauner to lawmakers: Make a choice; Democratic leaders say little has changed

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Feb 18, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner used his annual budget address Wednesday to put two choices before legislative Democrats who control both houses of the state legislature: The General Assembly can grant him, the state’s chief executive, the authority to make the cuts that will allow Illinois to spend what it’s bringing in, about $32.8 billion Or, Rauner said, lawmakers can agree to some of what he considers essential economic and political reforms and he’ll work with them on a combin

House Dems again pass arbitration bill, but remain short of veto override votes

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Feb 17, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — House Democrats on Tuesday again passed a bill that could send the stalled contract talks between Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state’s biggest employee unions to a panel of arbitrators.

Brawl over bargaining bill resumes; With no AFSCME contract, stakes are high

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Feb 11, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — The hotly disputed interest arbitration or “no strike-no lockout” bill is back in play in the state Capitol. While Gov. Bruce Rauner, R-Winnetka, argues the measure is an expensive, taxpayer-funded gift to organized labor that Illinois can’t afford, Democratic proponents say the bill would forestall a work stoppage and protect state workers and services.

Obama calls for building better politics; GOP focuses on his remarks on redistricting

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Feb 11, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — Democrats and Republicans alike found things to cheer about, usually separately but occasionally together, in an hour-long Statehouse speech by President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

Rauner to Dems: Work with me or pass tax hike

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Feb 10, 2016

SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday evening closed out a tour of speeches to civic groups around the state with an often-repeated message for Democrats: Work with him on what he considers reforms or pass a tax hike and wear the blame for it.

Governor, legislators roll out downsizing bills; Rauner: Downsizing, tax relief among budget keys

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Feb 6, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — The governor, lieutenant governor and a handful of legislators on Friday rolled out the first bills derived from a year-long effort focused on how to downsize Illinois’ plethora of governments.

Rauner: CPS takeover plan lives; He predicts non-Chicago Dems will join in support

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Feb 4, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — When the time comes, suburban and downstate Democrats will join him in his effort to have the state take control of Chicago’s debt-strapped school system, Gov. Bruce Rauner said Wednesday.

Munger: State debt spiraling; Unpaid bills might hit $10 billion to $12 billion

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Feb 2, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — Unless something changes soon, Illinois is heading $6.2 billion deeper into debt and taxpayers will remain on the hook, state Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger said Tuesday.

Rauner softens tone but stays with agenda; Democrats say the budget remains their priority

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Jan 28, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner hammered away Wednesday on the need for fundamental change in the way Illinois operates, while Democratic leaders blamed Rauner for the state not yet having a budget.

Dems, GOP to talk school aid, pensions? Cullerton puts school reform out front, says pension deal near

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Jan 25, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — State Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, dropped two big pieces of news Monday: -- Cullerton wants a rewrite of the state’s school funding formula, and he’s linking it directly with talks about the overall state budget.

State, AFSCME talks break down; No meetings scheduled, impasse may be near

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Jan 9, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — Talks between Gov. Rauner’s administration and the state’s largest public-sector employee union broke down Friday. There are no talks scheduled for next week, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 and the Rauner team are blaming each other for Friday’s events. There’s also no agreement on whether the talks are at impasse, which AFSCME says the Rauner team declared.

Rauner, AFSCME continue to scrap; Union blasts governor’s merit pay offers

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Jan 8, 2016

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner has implemented a merit-raise system for non-union employees, as well as roughly 5,000 workers represented by smaller state-government unions, according to a memo from his lead attorney. The Republican governor is also proposing many points of the same to the state’s largest employee union — the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Councl 31 — which has been without a contract even after a year of negotiations.

DraftKings says game still on in Illinois; Attorney: Company will go to court in gaming dispute

By Mark Fitton, Illinois News Network | Dec 26, 2015

SPRINGFIELD — Despite an opinion by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan that daily fantasy sports contests such as those offered by DraftKings and FanDuel are illegal gambling under state law, one of the big providers said it intends to keep offering the games in Illinois. DraftKings’ attorney late Wednesday issued a statement saying the company disagrees with the attorney general and believes “daily fantasy sports, which Illinois residents have been playing for years, are lawful under state

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