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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Brendan Kelly
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois State Police says its cars have been hit 14 times this year — more than in each of the previous three years in their entirety.

DNA analysis
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center / flickr.com/nasamarshall CC-BY-NC

The Illinois State Police was under fire Monday for the state’s huge backlog in testing crime-scene DNA.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois General Assembly was busy this week, passing legislation intended to fight gender pay inequity, teach LGBT history, and raise the age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21.

The panel also discusses NPR Illinois' recent series examining Gov. J.B. Pritzker's proposed tax increases and expansions.

Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker
still image from video / ABC 7 Chicago (WLS-TV)

Last year’s election was historic by several measures: the amount of money spent, the surge in turnout, and the Democratic sweep of Illinois government.

Every four years, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale analyzes the election, looking at everything from spending patterns to changes in voter behavior.

a plastic bag in a tree
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants to create a host of new taxes to help balance Illinois’ budget — on everything from e-cigarettes to medical insurance companies.

NPR Illinois reporters have been breaking down those revenue-generating ideas. Today we’re looking at a potential tax on shopping bags.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has finally revealed a few details about his plans to change the Illinois income tax. He's asking the General Assembly and voters to approve a constitutional amendment making the flat tax into one that's graduated, where the wealthy pay higher rates.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A night of surprises as (a few) Chicago voters narrow the field of candidates for mayor: former prosecutor and police reformer Lori Lightfoot gets the most votes, and will face Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in the April runoff election.

Trump speaking to Pritzker
still image from video / C-SPAN

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker spent a long weekend in Washington, D.C. He was meeting with other governors, and even got a special shout-out from President Donald Trump.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker's first budget proposal is calling for new taxes, more spending, and a series of moves around state pensions. But that's all a placeholder as he begins a push to change Illinois' flat income tax to one where the wealthy pay more.

We'll analyze what he said, what he didn't say, and what's next for Illinois' ailing finances.

shape of Illinois in coins
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivered his first budget address at a time of acute fiscal distress for the state of Illinois. It also comes after Democrats have taken total control of the executive and legislative branches of state government, including supermajorities in the Illinois House and Senate.

For this week's Illinois Issues report, NPR Illinois reporters analyzed the governor's speech:

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Democrats in the Illinois House approved an increase in the state minimum wage. Assuming Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs the legislation — he's said he will — the rate will gradually climb to $15 perhour in the year 2025;

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois Senate fast-tracked legislation that would gradually raise Illinois' minimum wage, eventually reaching $15 per hour in the year 2025. Gov. J.B. Pritzker is eager to quickly fulfil a campaign promise; will the Illinois House cooperate and send him the bill as-is?

Meanwhile, the Pritzker administration is painting a bleak picture of state finances ahead of the governor's budget address later this month.

Pritzker yard sign
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

There is a mystery at the heart of Illinois government. Statehouse reporters have been in private discussions about it for weeks. After internal deliberations here at public radio, we thought it was finally time to go public.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week that House Speaker Michael Madigan was recorded pitching his private legal services to someone wearing a wire for the federal government. It took place several years ago and the speaker has not been accused of wrongdoing.

It came as part of the investigation into the activities of Chicago Ald. Danny Solis, whose cooperation already led to corruption charges against Chicago Ald. Ed Burke.

J.B. Pritzker
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois officials are issuing dire warnings ahead of the arctic cold blowing into the state Tuesday night.

Elgie Sims
handout / Illinois Senate Democrats

An Illinois state senator is renewing a call for gun control legislation after personally witnessing a shooting this week.

Sen. Elgie Sims was at Orland Square Mall with his family when a man was shot and killed nearby.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker spent his second week in office taking actions to signal his support of progressive causes.

Six Flags
Juan Pablo González / Flickr.com/juanpg (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Electronic privacy advocates are praising a ruling from the Illinois Supreme Court on Friday. The justices held that people can sue just for having biometric information collected without consent.

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Brian Mackey

This week, J.B. Pritzker was sworn in as Illinois' new governor, promising a progressive agenda. 

J.B. Pritzker
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker spent his first full day in office taking steps aimed at setting himself apart from his predecessor.

J.B. Pritzker
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

J.B. Pritzker is set to become the 43rd governor of Illinois on Monday. He won in part by promising to make college more affordable, improve the state’s finances, and reform the criminal justice system.

Statehouse editor Brian Mackey sat down with Pritzker over the weekend for a conversation focused on his policy agenda, the problems facing Illinois, and ethics in government.

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Brian Mackey

A new General Assembly sworn in on the eve of a new Governor and administration.   Tina Sfondeles of the Chicago Sun-Times joins the panel.

Greg Harris
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

For the first time in more than two decades, the Illinois House of Representatives has a new majority leader. And the appointment is breaking new ground.

The Pritzker Agenda

Jan 10, 2019
J.B. Pritzker
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker takes office next week on the heels of the most decisive election victory in a generation. And he’ll be working to pass his agenda through the biggest Democratic majorities in the General Assembly since the 1960s.

That raises a question: What precisely does that agenda consist of? 

Doris Turner, J.B. Pritzker, and Juliana Stratton
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker is pushing for bigger salaries for Illinois' top government officials.

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Brian Mackey

Chicago Ald. Ed Burke is accused of using his position to steer business to his law firm. The city's longest-serving alderman has ties across government in Illinois and the city — will there be other shoes to drop?

Juliana Stratton
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

With two weeks until Illinois’ inauguration day, Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker is still filling key roles in his administration. He’s departing from tradition by including his lieutenant governor among them.

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Brian Mackey

A look back at the top stories in Illinois politics and government over the past year.

Pritzker and Rauner
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As we get ready to welcome 2019, we thought we’d take a few minutes to listen back to the past year in Illinois government and politics.

We heard the most expensive campaign for governor in American history, a leading politician pulling the plug on his career, and a range of accusations from hacking to harassment.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

After years of effort, a bipartisan coalition passed criminal justice reform legislation in Congress this week. Turns out the relationship between Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and presidential adviser/son-in-law Jared Kushner played a role in keeping the legislation on track.

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