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Illinois lawmakers debate $42.3 billion budget, ethics reform, moving 2022 primary election

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SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers went down to the wire Monday, considering a $42.3 billion budget and a menu of other significant items, such as an election omnibus that would move the state’s 2022 primary election from March to June and a long-promised ethics reform package.

The flurry of legislation, including a gaming bill permitting in-person betting on Illinois collegiate teams, came in the waning hours of the spring legislative session.

The 704-page budget proposal dropped around 1:30 a.m., giving lawmakers less than a day to consider its contents.

Some of the cuts from Pritzker's budget proposal, released earlier this year, have been taken out.

For instance, there will be no 10% cut — as initially proposed — to the local government distributive fund, which is the portion of state income tax received by cities and counties.

The budget also restores several tax incentives initially on the chopping block to the dismay of Republicans and business groups. 

But some, such as the capping deductions on net operating losses at $100,000, which would bring in an additional $314 million in revenue, remain. 

Beyond the budget, significant bills on ethics, elections and gaming dropped Monday. 

The ethics package comes as several current and former lawmakers face a variety of criminal charges and amid an ongoing criminal probe into the lobbying activities of Commonwealth Edison, which sought to influence House Speaker Michael Madigan by hiring his friends and allies.  

Among other things, the legislation would ban public officials from lobbying other units of government; ban legislators and executive branch officials from lobbying for six months after leaving office or the conclusion of their term; and bans fundraisers on days before and after session. 

The legislation also lets the Legislative Inspector General to initiate investigations without approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission. Though in order to obtain subpoenas, the LEC approval would be required. 

The bill contains a carve-out for the city of Chicago, which has its own ethics standards.

The legislation has bipartisan support, but lawmakers acknowledged there's still more to be done. 

"This is our first step forward, and our focus was to get a bill that we could get agreement on and get passed," said state Sen. Ann Gillespie, D-Arlington Heights. "There's important provisions in here. We didn't get everything we wanted ... but we got a good, solid bill that addresses many of the issues that we've seen over the last couple of years."

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