The budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly does not rely on extending the 2011 income tax hike, as originally planned by Democratic leadership. Instead, it's based on state government borrowing from itself.
Instead of making the five percent income tax rate permanent or chopping away at government programs, lawmakers opted to fill a massive hole in state revenues by doing something called "interfund borrowing."
The Illinois Senate has passed a plan to overhaul the way schools are funded. But the proposal has a long way to go before becoming law.
After months of negotiations and with just four days left on the General Assembly's spring calendar, the measure was deemed "ready for primetime." The plan would direct state funding to more impoverished schools and divert funding from schools in wealthier areas.
Supporters of the plan, like Sen. Mike Noland (D-Elgin) say this would help remedy inequity in school funding.
Plenty can, and will, happen before voters go to the polls in November to chose their next governor. But a central theme of the campaign emerged Wednesday, when Gov. Pat Quinn proposed making permanent what was supposed to have been a temporary hike in the state's income tax. His Republican opponent, Bruce Rauner, favors letting the increase lapse. Their competing visions mean a lot is at stake ahead of the upcoming election, as well as for the state's future.
The polar vortex returned to the Midwest this week, with frigid temperatures making it difficult for Illinoisans to keep their houses warm. Winter has been especially harsh for people who heat with propane, which has seen a near four-fold price increase in the wake of a regional shortage.
State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) says the cost of propane is forcing families to make difficult decisions.
Illinois' attempts to remove ineligible people from the state's Medicaid rolls are on hold, as Illinois and its largest public employees' union fight over who should actually do the scrubbing. The state says it will appeal a ruling that says it has to cancel its $77 million dollar contract with an outside firm.
Big changes are ahead for Medicaid, the state's health insurance program for the poor. Hundreds of thousands of residents are expected to be added to the rolls under the federal health care law.
But first, Illinois wants to remove people who are ineligible.
An Illinois Senate committee has approved legislation that would pave the way for concealed-carry of firearms in Illinois. But gun-rights advocates say it's too restrictive, and the measure faces an uphill climb.
State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, was trying to negotiate a compromise with gun-rights supporters. But ultimately he went his own way. His proposal would not allow guns in schools, day cares, casinos, and stadiums.