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State Week: Education Funding, Pritzker-Blagojevich, Rauner-Duke

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Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois

This week, Gov. Bruce Rauner dodged a Nerf-ball question about whether former Congressman and Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke was a racist. Meanwhile, Rauner, a Republican, is running an infomercial about Democratic primary candidate J.B. Pritzker. And we hear the latest on the school funding overhaul that just won't end.

Within a day, the Rauner campaign sought to clarify that the governor does in fact believe "David Duke is a racist." It was part of Rauner's long-running attempt to avoid any engagement with questions about President Donald Trump, though it echoed Trump's own wavering on Duke.

Meanwhile, Rauner is buying 30 minutes of airtime in a handful of markets across the state to air what are purportedly the complete FBI wiretap recording of a 2008 conversation between Pritzker and then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.  (The Chicago Tribune it's only costing $11,900 and is not in prime time.) He's hoping voters keep asking about what Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown calls the "question that just won't go away."

Finally, after Gov. Rauner vetoed a clean-up bill on the big changes to education funding, the Illinois State Board of Education called for quick action. The ISBE also decided the time was right to request that legislators double state money for public schools.

Sean Crawford hosts with regular panelists Charlie Wheeler and Brian Mackey, and guest Dusty Rhodes of the NPR Illinois Education Desk.

The State Week panel wants to hear your questions about Illinois.

If there's anything you've ever wondered about Illinois government and politics — whether a current event or something historical — we want to answer your question on air.

We'd also like you to ask your question on air. There are two ways to get in touch:

  • Leave a voicemail at (217) 206-6412.
  • Record a voice memo on your smart phone and email it to brian.mackey@nprillinois.org. (Here's a helpful guide from NPR. Be sure to begin by saying who you are and where you're from, along the lines of: "Hi, I'm Brian Mackey from Springfield, and I've always wondered ...")

We hope to hear from you soon.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
The former director of the Public Affairs Reporting (PAR) graduate program is Professor Charles N. Wheeler III, a veteran newsman who came to the University of Illinois at Springfield following a 24-year career at the Chicago Sun-Times.
After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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