Politics & Government

Nonpartisan examination of the workings of state and national institutions, including legislatures, bureaucracy, and electoral systems

Broad interests, narrow interests, and the politics of the budgetary process

Authors

Interest politics, as opposed to party politics, make fixing Illinois’ budget problems very complex and difficult. All people and businesses have multiple and overlapping interests in what the state does. Thinking about broad and narrow interests helps understand them. Broad interests are those that many people hold weakly; for example, we all have an interest in a balanced state budget. Narrow interests are those that fewer people hold, but they often do so very strongly; for example, all teachers have an interest in higher pay for educators.


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Public opinion and political viability of budget tools

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What are the political prospects of various plans to boost revenue or reduce spending? One way to answer is via opinion polls. Few say they support broad tax increases or spending cuts on education or Medicaid. Targeted taxes on the wealthy and reductions in benefits to state employees, by contrast, generate positive reactions. However, caution is always in order with polls. Some opinions seem open to change. For instance, support for raising taxes on the rich falls when people are told what rates they currently pay, on average.


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What odds for the sale of the Illinois state lottery?

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As of winter 2007, Illinois and Indiana have in common more than just a border and fresh memories of having sent a team to the Super Bowl. Both states recently took the first steps to privatize their state lotteries, something no American state has ever done. For Illinois, the prospects of a sale or lease will depend in no small part on elite-level negotiations. However, it will not be solely an inside-Springfield story. The governor has said he will make his case directly to Illinois citizens.


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State legislative term limits in Illinois? Prospects and potential impacts

Authors

The year 2007 brought unprecedented political gridlock to Illinois state government, reducing public satisfaction with the governor and General Assembly dramatically, and generating serious discussion about a draconian political reform that dates from the Progressive Era – the recall of elected officials. Only one state has adopted the recall since the 1920s, Minnesota in 1996. But since 1990, almost half the states have adopted a more invasive and significant institutional reform with a similar populist appeal – state legislative term limits.


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Wall Street weakly, or how and when Obama won the presidential race

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At least as far back as spring 2007, some observers regarded the 2008 presidential election as a foregone conclusion. With President Bush’s approval rating hovering around 35 percent and large majorities of the public unhappy about the situation in Iraq, anything but a booming economy would make the Democratic nominee’s job an easy one. So ran conventional wisdom.


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Picking the president by popular plurality? Prospects and partisan politics

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  • Neil Baer

Post-mortems on the 2010 midterm election have quickly segued into forecasts about the 2012 presidential election. Topics under discussion include how durable and cohesive the new Republican House majority will prove to be; who should be regarded as front-runners for the Republican nomination for president; how redistricting will play out in major states and others.


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Kent Redfield is a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield. His research interests include state campaign finance, legislative redistricting, legislative behavior, policy analysis and municipal government and special districts. A former legislative staff member himself, Redfield joined UIS in 1979 and directed the Illinois Legislative Staff Internship Program for the next 20 years. He spent a dozen years leading the Sunshine Project, which focused on documenting the role of money in politics, particularly in Illinois. The project led to creation of an online database to track political contributions that is maintained by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

In retirement, Redfield continues to work on campaign finance and other political issues. He is the author or co-author of several books and frequently offers analysis and observation on the state's politcal atmosphere for news media across the state.

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Christopher Z. Mooney is the W. Russell Arrington Professor of State Politics in the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Mooney served as director of IGPA from 2013 through 2017, and from 2004-2013, he was an IGPA faculty member at University of Illinois at Springfield. Mooney studies comparative U.S. state politics, with special focus on state legislatures, and he is a noted expert on term limits. Since 2010, the American Political Science Association’s State Politics and Policy section has awarded the annual Christopher Z. Mooney Prize for the best dissertation the field. In 2012, Mooney was awarded that section’s Career Achievement Award, and in 2017, he was elected to a two-year term as its president.

The main focus of Mooney’s research involves the study of state politics and policy in the United States. In particular, Mooney’s work deals with state legislatures,, lawmaking, and morality policymaking. He is currently working on a long-term project exploring how state legislators think about cause and effect in public policy. He also is the co-author of one of the leading undergraduate textbooks in his field, State and Local Politics: Institutions and Reform, published by Wadsworth/Cengage.

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Expertise:

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James Kuklinski’s primary interests include the nature and quality of citizen decision-making, the relationship between public opinion and legislative policymaking, and the use of experiments in social scientific research.


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Expertise:

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Brian Gaines's research deals with all aspects of elections, electoral rules, and public opinion. Some of his recent work has dealt with campaign-finance fraud, pros and cons of convenience voting, inference from survey experiments, and assessing bias in electoral maps, and has appeared in such outlets as the American Statistician, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Political Analysis, and State Politics and Policy Quarterly.  He has published op eds in many newspapers in Illinois, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Wall Street Journal. He follows politics in the United States, Canada, the UK, Germany, and, to a lesser extent, Europe and Australia. Two of his major projects at present are a multi-nation survey about parties and partisanship and a study of public opinion about fairness in taxes.

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