State

Lawmakers begin sending $35B budget to governor

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate has given final approval to parts of a new state budget, sending the legislation to Gov. Pat Quinn.

The proposed $35.4 billion general revenue fund budget avoids cuts to education for the first time in at least four years.

Democrats who control the House and Senate drafted the document.

Republicans have criticized it, saying the proposal increases spending when the state can't afford it. But Democrats say it's a conservative, honest spending plan.

The first budget measures to go to the governor Thursday will pay off a backlog of bills for human services organizations. The legislation also funds Medicaid and the state's pension payment for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Both chambers are expected to approve the final pieces of the budget package Friday.

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