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Top Issues Facing Illinois Lawmakers

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Top Issues Facing Illinois Lawmakers

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Illinois lawmakers face a Friday deadline and a half-dozen major issues are still pending. Here's where they stood on Wednesday:

BUDGET: Illinois Democrats defended their proposed state budget, calling it an honest spending plan that'll reduce the billions in unpaid bills. Republicans criticized the $35.4 billion general funds budget, saying that it increases spending yet again. Democrats are using a one-time unanticipated increase in tax revenue known as the "April surprise" to pay down $1.2 billion in old bills this year.

PENSIONS: While both chambers remained at odds on an approach to solving the state's nearly $100 billion pension problem, a plan to make universities and community colleges pick up their own pension costs has emerged. Also three smaller pension bills awaited a Senate vote after moving out of committee. | Update: Lawmakers fail to reach deal; Gov. vows to call them together to work it out

GUNS: The Illinois Senate president met with lawmakers Wednesday to attempt compromise on a plan allowing people to carry concealed guns. Lawmakers have until June 9 after a federal appeals court deemed Illinois' concealed carry ban unconstitutional. A day earlier, a Senate committee rejected a version that allows the public possession of weapons and invalidates local ordinances. The same committee advanced a plan excluding the pre-emption of local laws. | UPDATE: Concealed Carry Bill Sent to Governor

GAMBLING:
A plan calling for five new casinos moved out of a House committee Wednesday and sponsors say they're working out final details including on tax rates and transparency. They also said there's no way that the proposed Chicago casino will be pulled out for a separate bill after the head of the Illinois Gaming Board made that suggestion a day earlier. | UPDATE: Gambling Expansion Won't Be Called for Vote

GAY MARRIAGE:
No House vote yet on a proposal that would make Illinois the 13th U.S. state to allow same-sex marriage. On Wednesday, a group of Chicago-area pastors who've been targeting House Black Caucus members protested outside a co-sponsor's office. A day earlier, an undecided caucus member said he was in favor. The Senate approved the measure in February. | UPDATE: Gay Marriage Bill Won't Get Vote This Session

FRACKING: House lawmakers haven't yet voted on a groundbreaking compromise to regulate high-volume oil and gas drilling. Supporters say regulated "fracking" would bring jobs to depressed areas while some opponents worry about water pollution. | UPDATE: House lawmakers approved a bill, sending it to the Senate.
 
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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