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Illinois Dems agree on budget

By Illinois Public Radio

Springfield, Ill. – Democratic leaders in Springfield say they've agreed on a new budget for Illinois state government. That comes almost a month after the legislative session was supposed to finish.

Hearings on the new spending plan were to start this morning (Tuesdsay), with the session to be complete by the end of the week.

That budget is close to what the governor originally proposed. It includes more money for schools, a universal preschool program, and a modified version of a plan to help students pay for college that will now go only be offered to low-to-middle-income families.

But a leading Latino lawmaker says fellow Latinos are not willing to vote for the budget as-is because they believe the budget doesn't give enough money to Chicago schools, among other needs.

The Latino vote will be needed to pass the budget because Republicans won't likely vote for the it.

The GOP has been shut out of budget talks, and they complain Democrats are overspending.

It does not look like the General Assembly will approve spending for major construction projects. And there won't see an increase in sales or income taxes, but certain fees will go up.

The $55 billion spending proposal also depends on putting less money into the state's underfunded pension system, and it uses cash in funds intended for other purposes.

Lawmakers also have more money to work with because an improved economy means the state's getting more tax money.

State Rep. Gary Hannig (D- Litchfield) says the biggest change from the governor's original proposal is that all B-or-better college students won't get a tax credit; rather, aid will be directly given to needy students.