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Latest From Springfield: Vote-By-Mail Expansion, Budget Proposal & More

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The Illinois House of Representatives stand for the opening prayer as they convene their spring legislative session Wednesday, May 20, 2020, at the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield, Ill., instead of in their chamber in the Illinois Capitol building a few blocks away because it affords more space for legislators to practice social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vote-By-Mail Expansion Approved In Senate

SPRINGFIELD — A plan to expand mail-in voting because of the COVID-19 pandemic is close to approval by the governor after the Senate OK’d it Friday. The idea is to make it easier for voters to cast ballots and limit the number who have to go to physical locations and be exposed to the coronavirus. The Senate approved Democratic Lake Forest Sen. Julie Morrison’s legislation 37-19.Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker supports the legislation. Applications to vote by mail would be sent to anyone who mailed in ballots in recent elections. They’d even be sent follow-up reminders in September and October if they don’t immediately respond. 

Language Explaining Income Tax Issue To Voters Approved

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois General Assembly has approved language that explains the pros and cons of adding a graduated rate to the income tax system.The House on Friday adopted a joint resolution that provides for information to go to voters before the Nov. 3 election. It received a 71-45 vote after similar overwhelming approval on Thursday by the Senate, like the House controlled by Democrats.Voters will be asked whether to amend the state Constitution. It requires that an income tax be flat, set at the same rate for everyone. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker wants rates to increase as income levels rise. 

Illinois Budget Plan Needs $6B In Federal Aid To Balance

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House is poised to consider a $42.64 billion operating budget for next year, a 6.8% increase over current spending. And it’s heavily reliant on federal assistance. The governor’s stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic left shops closed and more than 1 million Illinois residents out of work. But lawmakers say there will be $36.96 billion in revenue for the fiscal year that begins July 1. That would leave a $5.8 billion hole lawmakers would look to Washington to fill. Another budget proposal awaits Senate action. The two chambers must agree on a single outline. 

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. We recommend checking the Coronavirus Information Center for the most recent numbers and guidance.

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