#PastDue

Bruce Rauner at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

 Gov. Bruce Rauner is saving the details for his budget address next month, but he did have a few things to say about the state’s fiscal situation after he was sworn in Monday.

“We must forget the days of feeling good about just making it through another year—by patching over major problems with stitches that are bound to break,” Rauner said during his inaugural speech. “Those stitches are now busting wide open and we must begin by taking immediate, decisive action.”

Host Jamey Dunn and guests Bob Gough (QuincyJournal.com) and Charlie Wheeler (UIS) discuss the special session and special election legislation as well as Rauner's choice for comptroller, this week's inaugurations, and Gov. Pat Quinn's legacy.

Bruce Rauner
brucerauner.com

Gov. -elect Bruce Rauner’s transition team took a pass on making any budget recommendations in a report the group issued today.

The bipartisan group’s report emphasized that the state’s dire fiscal situation is the most pressing challenge the soon-to-be governor will face. The document goes so far as to say that if the new administration cannot stabilize the state’s budget, it will not succeed with other items on its agenda, be they modest or ambitious.

Jamey Dunn headshot
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Editor's Note:
January marks a new phase in our journalism.  Due to the merger between WUIS and Illinois Issues, we now have a number of journalists that enable reporting on a beat model.  Beats allow a reporter to learn the events and people more thoroughly than general assignment reporting.  Each reporter is focusing on key issues in the state.  We're calling it the "Illinois Issues Initiative."  Here are the issues:

PAST DUE
Jamey Dunn

Graying Illinois

Jan 1, 2015
Illinois Issues

Listen to Jamey Dunn talk about her piece with Rachel Otwell:

Three years ago, the first members of the Baby Boom generation turned 65. This generation, born between the mid-1940s and mid- 1960s, has had a large influence on American politics and policy, in part by virtue of its sheer size. As the Boomers reach retirement age, they may once again drastically reshape the country.

Illinois Supreme Court
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

A version of this story first appeared on the Illinois Issues Blog in July 2014.

After years of trying to find a solution to the tackle the state’s $100 billion unfunded pension liability, lawmakers approved pension changes in December of last year. Illinois was SAVED! Crank up the tunes, call up the bond rating agencies, put Squeezy the Pension Python out to pasture — happy days are here again!

screenshots from candidate TV ads

Unfortunately, even if the winner of the contest for governor is able to resolve what are arguably the two most pressing fiscal issues the state faces, Illinois’ budget would still be in deep trouble.

Tom Cross for Treasurer campaign

Tom Cross of Oswego has spent more than 20 years as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives.  A former prosecutor, for over a decade he was the House Republican Leader.  

Now Cross, 56, wants to be state Treasurer.  He won the GOP nomination and faces Democratic state Senator  Mike Frerichs of Champaign.  The position is responsible for investing state dollars.

Cross said he feels current Treasurer Dan Rutherford has done "a nice job" streamlining the office and it's budget.  But he said he can take the office in a different direction.

Jamey Dunn
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

It’s no secret that many Illinois Democrats have been reluctant to throw their full support behind President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. And Republicans at the state level are not going to get behind a law that their party counterparts in the U.S. House have voted dozens of times to repeal. As a result, those seeking insurance in the state have been handed a mixed bag of policy.

 

Jamey Dunn headshot
mattpenning.com 2014 / WUIS/Illinois Issues

About this time two years ago, I was working on one of my first big assignments for this magazine after I had come aboard as Capitol bureau chief. The article was on the state’s backlog of unpaid bills. At the time, the total of overdue payments to schools, universities and the state’s vendors was $3.5 billion. The oldest bills had sat unpaid for six months. 

Southern Illinois pharmacy owner Tom Miller had to refinance his store to avoid bankruptcy while he waited on the state of Illinois to pay the money it owed him. “The state darn near destroyed us — destroyed me and almost destroyed other pharmacies,” he says.

Miller, also a Methodist minister, says his faith helped him through the financial turmoil. “We stayed in business only through the grace of God.” At one point Miller was waiting up to 270 days to be reimbursed for the Medicaid prescriptions he filled. 

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