Brian Mackey

Reporter - Statehouse

Brian Mackey covers state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois lawmakers say they've made real progress toward passage of a budget. But even if they can get it passed by the scheduled end of session next Thursday (May 31), the big question remains: Will Gov. Bruce Rauner sign or veto it?

Illinois legislators are trying to help state taxpayers get around limitations in the new federal tax law. But the federal government may negate the plan before it even has a chance to become law.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner used his amendatory veto powers to rewrite a gun bill, simultaneously proposing more gun control than the original bill called for while also reinstating the death penalty.

Meanwhile, local governments are complaining about the state's attempt to share less money from the income tax, while gambling interests prepare to fight it out after the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for legal sports betting in every state.

Peoria Public Radio

Conversations around gun violence often revolve around long-term solutions, like improving schools or the local economy.

But even if those things were easy — and they’re not — it would take a generation to realize the benefits.

And for the Illinoisans living and dying in these communities — mostly low-income, black communities — they don’t have time to wait.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Equal Rights Amendment is back in the news and back in the Statehouse, as supporters make another push for ratification in Illinois.

Meanwhile, the fiscal watchdog group The Civic Federation is out with a critique of Gov. Bruce Rauner's budget proposal and its own plan for the state, and a southern Illinois county declares itself a sanctuary for gun owners.

Panel listens to an audience member question at an Illinois Issues Forum
UIS Office of Electronic Media / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Watch the first Illinois Issues Forum from Springfield.  Our 2018 election coverage starts discussing the fiscal health of Illinois. 

This forum is produced and hosted by NPR Illinois with support provided by AARP Illinois. 

The Panel:

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

House Speaker Michael Madigan was re-elected to another term as chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois. Meanwhile, gun owners marched on the Capitol, Gov. Bruce Rauner returned from his European trade mission, and a new report looks at the crushing late fees run up during the budget stalemate.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

State Sen. Sam McCann has left the Republican Party, and will be trying to run for governor on the Conservative Party ticket. Does that complicate the chances for Gov. Bruce Rauner, who narrowly won renomination against a more conservative Republican primary challenger?

Ricky Pike
Courtesy Maria Pike

The gun debate returned to the Illinois Capitol Wednesday. The group Moms Demand Action was lobbying to require state licenses for gun dealers.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner made a rare request for a meeting with the four legislative leaders of the General Assembly — House and Senate, Democratic and Republican. In a show of how once-ordinary tasks can be touted as achievements in the current toxic political climate, Republicans left the meeting saying they were pleased Democrats agreed to appoint budget negotiators.

They also apparently agreed to set a "revenue estimate" — the amount of  money Illinois government expects to collect, and thus to spend, in the next budget year.

Bruce Rauner
Rich Saal / The State Journal-Register (pool)

There was a rare meeting Thursday among Gov. Bruce Rauner and the top leaders of the Illinois General Assembly.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Passing a state budget is arguably the most important thing the Illinois General Assembly does every year — or at least should do every year.

After last year's drama — when a two-year standoff ended with a Republican revolt against Governor Bruce Rauner — it's an open question about how things will go this year.

So I set out to answer a simple question: Will there be another impasse?

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

J.B. Pritzker is reiterating his call for a graduated income tax — and says before that, Illinois might need to raise its existing flat tax rate.

Tim Killeen and Barbara Wilson
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The University of Illinois president told a panel of lawmakers Thursday that he'd like to maintain a freeze on tuition rates.

Rauner at gym with students
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is expecting a new addition to his family: he and First Lady Diana Rauner are becoming first-time grandparents.

Rauner, 61, has six children, all grown, so this was bound to happen at some point.

Still, the governor seemed caught off guard when reporters asked about it this week.

“Uhhh, well,” Rauner said before laughing. “Um, OK. I wasn’t going to about that, but I’m happy — you know what, we’re so excited, I’m sort of busting at the buttons.”

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Thousands of Illinoisans joined people across America and around the world in marches showing support for stricter gun laws. A former campaign worker sued House Speaker Michael Madigan over his handling of a harassment complaint against one of his top aides.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx toook moved against Facebook after the privacy lapses ¸brought into public consciousness by the Cambridge Analytica scandal. And can Gov. Bruce Rauner repair his relationship with conservative voters?

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Governor Bruce Rauner’s office has been criticized by a state audit.

Bruce Rauner
Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The final piece of Illinois’ education funding overhaul has been signed into law.

Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday approved legislation intended to tie up loose ends in original law, which passed last summer.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner won renomination by just three percentage points — a remarkable margin considering he raised more campaign cash than his opponent, Rep. Jeanne Ives, by a factor of 26 to one. Ives says she won't be endorsing the Republican governor for reelection.

Meanwhile, J.B. Pritzker bested each of his two main opponents for the Democratic nomination by 20 percentage points. But state Sen. Daniel Biss and Chris Kennedy both say they'll support Pritzker in his race against Rauner.

Pritzker and Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois primary voters have spoken. This year’s race for governor will be a battle between two of the wealthiest men in the state.

But this outcome almost didn’t come to pass.

Democrat J.B. Pritzker won easily, but incumbent Republican Governor Bruce Rauner barely escaped a humiliating defeat.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A week before the primary election, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the first gun-control legislation sent to him after the mass murder at a school in Parkland, Florida. It would have required gun dealers to obtain state licenses.

Senate Democrats say they'll try to override the governor — eventually. They bought themselves more time by refusing to immediately recognize his veto, breaking with past practice and the Illinois Constitution.

Logan Correctional Center satellite view
Google Maps

A mother is suing Illinois and Sangamon County officials for failing to prevent her daughter's suicide.

School desks
Flickr user: dcJohn www.flickr.com/photos/dcjohn/

Next Wednesday, March 14, is one month since the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, and students across the country are planning another walkout.

On Monday, the ACLU of Illinois encouraged schools to take the opportunity for a "lesson in civics."

Mikaela Lefrak - WAMU

With more student protests expected after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, the ACLU of Illinois is encouraging schools to respect free speech rights.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A series of gun control measures advanced in the Illinois Statehouse this week — requiring state licenses for gun dealers, banning "bump stocks," and raising the purchase age for so-called assault weapons, among other bills.

In Washington, an Illinois case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. Janus v. AFSCME challenges "fair share" fees for workers who are in collective bargaining units but don't want to join a union, and could have dire financial implications for public employee labor unions across the country.

Democratic candidates for Attorney General. From left to right: Sharon Fairley, state Rep. Scott Drury, state Sen. Kwame Raoul, Aaron Goldstein, Renato Mariotti, former Gov. Pat Quinn, Nancy Rotering and Jessie Ruiz.
Courtesy of Candidates' Campaigns

How would contenders for the state's top legal office have handled the budget stalemate?

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Five of the six Democrats running for governor met in Springfield for a debate. House Speaker Michael Madigan was once again a hot topic, as the speaker had earlier in the week cut ties with a second aide over allegations of harassment.

Meanwhile, Republicans were distancing themselves from their own problem candidate — one who'd used racial and anti-gay language in a conversation with Republican attorney general candidate Erika Harold.

Gov. Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

An Illinois labor union is suing Gov. Bruce Rauner over an Illinois law. The case — filed Thursday afternoon in federal court — expects bad news for labor in the (potential) landmark Janus v. AFSCME case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democratic candidates for governor
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Five of the Democrats running for Illinois governor met at a debate Wednesday night in Springfield. Among the prime topics was House Speaker Michael Madigan’s handing of harassment in his political organization.

Flickr.com/morgnar (CC-BY-NC)

A divided Illinois Supreme Court says it was OK for the government to seize a woman’s Harley-Davidson — even though it was her husband who used it to drive drunk.

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