Illinois Senate approves legalized sports betting, $45B state construction plan

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois lawmakers have wrapped up their spring session after a whirlwind week that produced a budget, more gambling, legalized marijuana use, protections for abortion, a state construction plan and billions of dollars in tax increases to fund it.

The Senate took final action Sunday on a $39.9 billion budget and a $45 billion outline for rebuilding roads, schools and other public works. It doubled the state's gasoline tax to 38 cents per gallon. Future increases would be tied to inflation but legislation ensures that the road fund where it's deposited can't be used for other purposes.

Democrats who control the General Assembly with super majorities got buy-in from minority Republicans who agreed the spending plan is balanced, endorsed the need for infrastructure improvements and encouraged a "lockbox" on road-repair money to prohibit future diversions.

The Senate also approved a last-minute but gigantic expansion of casino gambling in the state and legalized betting on sports events for the first time. Licensing fees and tax revenue from that initiative could produce up to $700 million next year for the construction plan.

The House spent Saturday churning out mountains of legislation. Lawmakers took up and adopted a nearly $40 billion budget, a $45 billion infrastructure improvement plan and billions of dollars in taxes and fees to finance the work.

The load forced abandonment of meeting the May 31 adjournment deadline. The House adjourned on Saturday night until the fall after the breakneck day.

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