A look at top issues lawmakers faced this week
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois lawmakers faced a midnight deadline for the end of the session. Here’s a look at how they fared by Friday on four of the major issues:
BUDGET: Lawmakers sent the budget package to Gov. Pat Quinn. Republicans criticized the $35.4 billion general funds budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, saying that it increases spending yet again. Democrats say it’s a responsible spending plan that pays off part of the state’s bill backlog and avoids cuts to education for the first time in at least four years.
GAMBLING: The sponsor of a plan to expand gambling decided not to call a vote on the final evening of the session. He said the proposal just wasn’t ready. For days he’s been locked in negotiations with the governor’s office and others on issues including oversight of a Chicago casino. Democratic Robert Rita vowed to take up the issue again.
GAY MARRIAGE: The House sponsor of a measure that would make Illinois the 13th U.S. state to allow same-sex marriage decided not to call the bill for a vote. Rep. Greg Harris said he simply didn’t have the votes, but said he’d bring the issue back. The Senate approved the measure in February, and Quinn says he’s ready to sign it.
FRACKING: The Senate approved a measure to regulate high-volume oil and gas drilling – detailing the strictest standards in the nation. The House overwhelmingly approved it a day before and Quinn is in favor. Supporters say regulated “fracking” would bring jobs to depressed areas in southern Illinois while some opponents worry about pollution.