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Illinois Budget Plans On Hold Until New Lawmakers Are Sworn In

Details of a massive, bipartisan compromise meant to end Illinois' budget stalemate emerged Monday in the Illinois Senate, but the plan has been put on hold.

Top leaders at first seemed eager to push the package through during the lame duck session, but now say they'll wait until new legislators are sworn in on Wednesday.

The Illinois Senate moved legislation to the floor that would address the long-running state budget stalemate.

The Assignments Committee on Monday approved eight measures that include an increase in the income tax rate to 4.95 percent, up from 3.75 percent.

Other bills would allow borrowing to pay off an $11 billion backlog of overdue bills, increase the minimum wage, expand legalized gambling, consolidate local governments, pay Chicago teachers' portion of their pensions and enact changes to state employees' pensions to save the state money.

The state Senate planned to vote on at least some of the provisions Monday afternoon. But with only less than two days remaining in the current session, there's no chance they could advance to the House.

The state Senate hopes to send a message that there's bipartisan agreement to end the spending standoff between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the Legislature. 

Both parties have long agreed on what would be necessary to pass a balanced budget: cut spending and raise taxes.

But Governor Bruce Rauner has also demanded that Democrats go along with his push for business-friendly laws and lower benefits for government workers.

Democrats refused, until now.

Published reports say Senate discussions include term limiting legislative leaders, changing how injured workers are compensated, and reducing pension benefits for government employees. In exchange for that, Illinois residents would pay higher income taxes.

Both Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan have thus far been excluded from the negotiations. Yet both would have to agree to the proposal before it could become a reality.