Illinois lawmakers take on state budget, ethics reform, energy policy during final day of legislative session

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. —Monday was Deadline Day in Springfield and the Illinois legislature rushed to read, debate and pass major pieces of legislation. By nightfall, negotiations on major pieces of legislation continue. 

The morning started with Democrats unveiling the 704-page budget bill. It’s a roughly $42 billion spending plan that would use $2.5 billion in federal relief money for infrastructure projects. The state faced a $1.3 billion hole, but better-than-expected revenue closed the gap.

“There’s a lot to talk about that we’ve accomplished just in the last year as a state that has put the state of Illinois in a much more stable place financially,” said Rep. Greg Harris.

Democrats generate $600 million in revenue by closing corporate tax breaks.

The budget meets the state’s commitment to boost evidence-based k-12 funding for public schools and pays down $2 billion in debt.

Additionally several noncontroversial measures passed Monday.

“I’m just thinking back to last year at this time what a tremendously different world we’re in,” Harris said.

Republicans, unable to stop the Democratic majority’s plan, slammed the budget making process.

“I just want to note again how difficult and legitimately challenging it is to analyze a complicated state budget proposal that was introduced this morning at 12:15,” said State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon).

Other major legislative measures moved today at warp speed.

Lawmakers made history making Illinois the first state to ban officers from lying to youth during interrogations. To secure confessions, police regularly deceive suspects during questioning.

The legislature also passed a bill making June 19 a holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when the last enslaved Black people learned that they were free.

Some of the more contentious legislation includes energy policy. Exelon and the state are trying to reach agreement about subsidies to help three of Exelon’s nuclear plants.

Gun legislation now requires all legal gun owners be fingerprinted.

The House approved a bill that would create and all-elected school board in Chicago. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants a hybrid system of elected and appointed members.

A bill was also introduced that would move next year’s primary election from March 15 to June 28 and make Election Day a state holiday.

Rep. Maurice West (D-Rockford) filed the new House amendment to Senate Bill 828

“We’re just seeing if this something we can adopt long-term but if not this would be just a one-time thing,” he said.

Over the weekend, several bills passed both chambers including a measure limiting the use of seclusion and restraint in schools and a cannabis clean up that would give out 110 new marijuana licenses.

And Democrats rammed through state legislative and Supreme Court maps that will favor their party for the next decade.

Democrats used population estimates from the American Community Survey rather than final census figures due out in mid-August.

Republicans said the map is flawed.

“We’re chasing ourselves further down this rabbit hole where we’re making data optional,” State Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) said.

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