Austin Berg

Austin Berg

Austin Berg | Pritzker's plastic-bag tax is all about green paper

Tuan Pham's family founded its grocery store in Illinois 23 years ago. The Hoang-Anh Oriental Food Store in East Moline proudly serves Quad Cities shoppers, especially the Asian-American immigrant community.

But Pham is no fan of what he's hearing out of Springfield.

"I know Chicago already has [a plastic bag tax]," Pham said. "I think this is a bad idea."

Austin Berg | Pritzker's budget doubles down on failure

Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivered his inaugural budget address Wednesday.

His response to Illinois' budget problems? Tax hikes, borrowing and a can kick — the same recipe for failure that has led the state to this point. Bipartisan solutions on the table in Springfield were ignored.

Austin Berg | Fixing Chicago could be key to fixing state

"We are one Illinois." This was a refrain from Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker during campaign season. It's a nice sentiment. The state is short on pride and solidarity.

But now that campaign season is over, how can Pritzker actually bring Illinois together?

Take Chicago.

Austin Berg | Illinois still has a people problem

It's the same grim story to which Illinoisans have grown accustomed: We're shrinking. And it's getting worse. New numbers released Dec. 19 from the U.S. Census Bureau paint a stark picture.

Austin Berg | Holiday shopping and the sales-tax scrooge

The average American will spend around $800 on gifts this Christmas. But making those holiday buys in Illinois will leave many families wishing they could get more bang for their buck.

Austin Berg | Coalition victorious over cronies in Springfield showdown

The formula for bad economic policy in the state of Illinois is pretty simple.

State lawmakers have the power to offer special privileges. Moneyed interests from legacy industries go to the state capital in search of them.

A few businesses get protections, carve-outs or subsidies. Politicians get money, favors or a new job.

Austin Berg | Illinois looks for leadership, but familiar faces remain

It's easy to criticize longevity in politics. "Career politician" is a pejorative for a reason. But there's a big difference between persistent public service and a political machine.

Unfortunately, the latter has won out in the Illinois General Assembly.

Austin Berg | Nearly half of state House candidates face no opponent

There are 118 seats in the Illinois House of Representatives. But before a single vote is cast on Election Day, nearly half of those seats will have been filled.

That's because 54 candidates are running unopposed.

Austin Berg | These Illinois Halloween laws might scare you

How old is too old to trick-or-treat? And what time should Halloween festivities begin and end?

Growing up in central Illinois and the western suburbs of Chicago, kids aged out of going door-to-door somewhere around eighth grade. If you threw a few pumpkins or eggs, you would likely get caught and sent home.

But the laws on the books can be much more frightening than that.

Austin Berg | The selfie that can land you in an Illinois jail

Early voting is upon us in Illinois. Mail-in ballots are free to fly.

But don't dare take a picture of your vote.