Jamey Dunn

Read Jamey's "Past Due" blog.

No other publication explains Illinois as well as Illinois Issues.  No other publication has the audience of Illinois Issues.

Illinois Issues magazine is dedicated to providing fresh, provocative analysis of public policy in Illinois. With a special focus on Illinois government and politics, the magazine pays close attention to current trends and legislative issues, and examines the state's quality of life.

The magazine also engages its readers in dialogue, enhancing the quality of public discourse in Illinois. A not-for-profit monthly magazine published by the University of Illinois at Springfield, Illinois Issues also sponsors and promotes other appropriate public affairs educational activities.

In continuous publication since 1975 by the University of Illinois at Springfield (formerly Sangamon State University), Illinois Issues monthly magazine is known as Illinois' leading public affairs periodical. We accept that honor, and we work hard with each issue to live up to it.

More than 15,000 Illinoisans read the magazine every month. Our readers tell us they rely on Illinois Issues to keep up with Illinois government and politics. Plus, we publish an annual up-to-date directory called the Roster of State Government Officials — a resource our readers find invaluable year-round.

mattpenning.com, 91.9 UIS

Jamey Dunn is leaving the position of Illinois Issues editor. In this report, she reflects on her time working here and covering state government. She now works as deputy director of communications for Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza next week.

  

Flickr user Beverly & Pack and Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley / "Taps, Bugle, Army, Military Funeral, Arlington National Cemetery" (CC v 2.0)

Illinois students in grades six through twelve will be able to get excused absences from school for playing Taps at military funerals starting next month. 

Republican Rep. Donald Moffitt says it can be hard for military families to find trumpet players to perform Taps.

“The pool of Taps players isn't real big,” Moffitt said. “If they feel that it would be more meaningful to have a live playing of taps, this definitely would increase the potential of [having] someone available.” 

Flickr user Eric E Castro / "The Tampon Fairy" (CC V 2.0)

Illinois consumers will no longer pay sales taxes on feminine hygiene products starting next year.

State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, sponsored the legislation.

“These are products that women need," she said, "and these things were being taxed at luxury tax rates and they shouldn't be taxed at all.”

Bush said she also is concerned that women are being charged more for some products and services than men.

Wikipedia

A new law that goes into effect in January is intended to prevent access to firearms for residents whose license to own a gun in the state has been revoked.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, says the law will help the state police let local law enforcement officials know when someone's Firearm Owner's Identification (FOID) card has been rescinded because there is an order of protection against them.

There’s still no budget for Illinois, but some big changes to education policy kicked in this year. As the contentious presidential election played out, several national issues affected the lives of citizens here.

"Window" By Flickr User Sam Howzit / (CC BY 2.0)

Those who work for Illinois organizations that provide services to survivors of domestic violence say the fact there’s no funding for them in the state’s soon-to-expire spending plan was an unfortunate surprise.

 

The stopgap budget doesn’t have a line item for domestic violence programs, but directors say they thought they would be paid out of the Department of Human Services' budget.

 

Flickr User Ken Teegardin/Flickr CC by SA 2.0

New projections show nibbling around the edges of state budget problems won't help Illinois.   

The state went for nearly a year and a half without a full budget. But there’s a surprising level of consensus about what must be done if lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner can come to a compromise on the governor’s policy demands and ultimately get down to trying to close the budget gap.

Wikimedia Commons

Certain political candidates are encouraging their supporters to keep an eye out for possible voting fraud on Election Day. 

Jim Tenuto is with the State Board of Elections.  He says poll watchers come in early to see how things are set up. They observe throughout the day and stick around to keep an eye on the vote-counting process. Tenuto says poll watchers can raise a red flag if they think somebody is trying to commit fraud.

 

Even though it has lasted nearly a year and a half, most Illinois voters say they haven’t personally felt the effects of the state budget impasse. That’s according to a poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, which is based at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. 

FLICKR/ 401KCALCULATOR.ORG

The Illinois State Fair is an unofficial start of sorts to state level campaign season in Illinois. Although — with all the money being dumped into legislative races this year, much of it coming from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner — political ads and mailers were already flying by the time the fair kicked off in August.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

A group of social service providers that sued the state over lack of payment are pushing forward with their case. But the coalition has shrunk.

 

The Pay Now Coalition used to have nearly one hundred members. Now fewer than fifty have signed on to appeal a judge’s recent dismissal of their lawsuit.

 

Coalition chair Andrea Durbin says that courts can’t force lawmakers and the governor to raise taxes so Illinois can afford to pay up. But a judge could enforce the contracts the state has with social service providers.

 

"#kryboard #enter #social #network" By Flickr User Victor / (CC X 2.0)

A law recently signed by Governor Bruce Rauner will make it easier for Illinois residents to access family members' social media accounts after they die.

      

 

The legislation requires that tech companies, such as Facebook, offer users a chance to name a beneficiary who would be given access to the account after they die or become incapacitated.

 

Hillside Democratic Representative Chris Welch sponsored the law. 

 

The governor describes the stopgap budget as a bridge to reform. But it could also be called an excavator — digging the state’s fiscal hole deeper.

Sangamon County Historical Society / sangamoncountyhistory.org

Governor Bruce Rauner shuttered the Illinois State museum last fall, saying the closure was a necessary cost-saving measure. This week, his administration announced the Springfield branch of the museum and the Dickson Mounds location will reopen on July second, if a legislative committee approves a plan to charge adults a five dollar admission fee. That committee meets June 14th.

 

 

 

 

Last November, disgruntled voters in a Rust Belt state beset by economic decline, budget shortfalls and pension woes, booted their incumbent governor — one of the least popular in the nation — out of office.

In his place, citizens chose a political neophyte, an Ivy League grad who’d never before run for public office and who promised to run the state like the businessman he was.

FLICKR/ LEONARD J. DEFRANCISCI

The country seems especially divided over the 2016 race for president. But there was a time in Illinois history when division led to bloodshed over political campaigns. 

State legislative primary races do not typically get people fired up. For instance, primary voter turnout in 2014 was only about 15 percent in Cook County and less than 20 percent in the rest of the state.

But this year, the conflict between Democratic legislative leaders and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is playing out in a couple of primary races for the General Assembly. These proxy wars have led to big spending and strange political bedfellows and projected these contests onto the statewide political stage.

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s plan for next fiscal year seeks to fix the foundation while the house is on fire.

  A new analysis found that Illinois lost out on millions of dollars when it sold bonds last week. 

"coffee" By Flickr User Jennie Robinson Faber / (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois has made powdered caffeine off limits to minors, while banning the sale of powdered alcohol to anyone. 

Democratic Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant sponsored the law that took effect the first of the year banning the sale of powdered caffeine to minors.

She says because the stimulant is so commonplace people may not be aware of the dangers of the powdered substance, which is highly concentrated. 

Institute of Government and Public Affairs, U of I

A monthly snapshot of the state’s economy shows growth in December was the slowest it has been since spring of 2013.

Fred Giertz, who compiles the index for the University of Illinois’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs, says it’s possible the state budget impasse contributed to the economic slowdown. He says it probably hasn’t played that big of a role so far, because the state is collecting less in taxes, leaving more money in consumer’s pockets, while at the same time not cutting back on spending.

Brian Mackey/Illinois Public Radio

Under a new law, mental health providers in Illinois will be barred from attempting to change the sexual orientation of patients under eighteen.

Chicago Democratic Representative Kelly Cassidy says attempts at changing minors’ sexual orientation can be traumatic for children and their families.

"Pumpkin Pie from a *real* pumpkin" by Flickr User browniesfordinner / (CC BY 2.0)

Starting this month, pumpkin pie will join the list of official state symbols, which includes a state flower, fossil and dance.

Some might question the need to add a state pie to that list, especially during a time when the state doesn’t even have a budget.

But supporters of the new law say it’s important not to forget about the positives — like the fact that Illinois grows most of the pumpkin that is processes and consumed in the country.

Keith Sommer is a Republican Representative who sponsored the law creating a state pie.

State of Illinois

After four DUI convictions, drivers in Illinois permanently lose their licenses. But some who fall in that group could get the chance to drive again in 2016.

A new law that goes into effect in January will allow those with four DUI’s on their record a chance to apply for a restricted license. To get one, applicants would have to prove they have been sober for three years. 

"Pills" by Flickr User Shardayyy / (CC BY 2.0)

A pilot program geared toward preventing addiction by promoting the use of locking bottles for prescription pain medication was supposed to kick off in 2016. But the program is delayed because of the lack of a state budget.

Democratic Representative Michael Zalewski of Riverside sponsored the legislation creating the program.

A recent report from the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs suggests changes to the state’s budgeting process that could help prevent future disasters.

Richard Dye, one of the authors of the report, says the prolonged budget crisis has overshadowed the underling practices that created it. 

“Once we get into a crisis as deep as we are, then we’re pedaling as fast as we can and we don’t think about little process-based things that may make it a little nicer easier or clearer three and five years down the road,” Dye said.

Years of mismanagement led to Illinois’s current fiscal crisis. A recent report from the University of Illinois’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs recommends changes to the budgeting process that could help prevent future disasters.

Illinois Public Radio’s Jamey Dunn talked with Richard Dye, one of the authors of the report. 

IPR's Jamey Dunn talked about the recommendations with Richard Dye, who is co-director of the IGPA's Fiscal Futures Project and one of the authors of the report. 

Flickr user 401(K) 2012 / "Money" (CC v. 2.0)

A group of human service providers wants Illinois lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner to pass a budget for the current fiscal year and next fiscal year. That’s after it appears the state will go more than half of this fiscal year without one.

Judith Gethner is with Illinois Partners for Human Services. She says they want both to happen in January, so providers can prepare for cuts that are likely to come.

Flickr user Daniel Borman / "Money, Money, Money" (CC BY 2.0)

When the state finally has a budget, who will be left out?

Illinois is facing the very real possibility of going for more than half of the current fiscal year without a budget.

Over that same six months, court orders, consent decrees and the one budget bill that Gov. Bruce Rauner did sign — funding for K-12 education — put the state on track to spend well above the revenue it’s taking in. Illinois Comptroller LeslieMunger estimates that roughly 90 percent of state spending is still happening, even without a budget.

Public employee and retiree health care benefits may be the next casualty of the state budget impasse.

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