Illinois Senate approves $38B budget plan

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Senate has approved an annual state budget by an unlikely 56-2 margin around 9 p.m. Wednesday evening.

Debate Wednesday night on the $38.5 fiscal blueprint involved mostly Democrats and Republicans congratulating one another for the lack of rancor that has marked budget discussions during the last three years.Democratic Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill says the proposal is about $1 billion higher than the current budget which expires June 30.But most spending has been held at the current level and there are decreases in areas such as public safety.

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office made no comment Wednesday as the budget plan became public. It relies on $5 billion in extra revenue from an income tax increase lawmakers approved last summer over Rauner's objections.

The plan moves to the House. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn Thursday.

Illinois also became the 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The House voted 72-45  The vote came nearly 38 years to the day that supporters thought the amendment was dead because the Illinois Legislature failed to endorse it.

The constitutional amendment regardless of sex. Thirty-eight states must ratify it to make it effective.

Illinois was one of 15 states not to ratify before a congressionally set 1982 deadline. But supporters have argued there's precedent to show that deadlines on constitutional amendments don't apply.

Rep. Lou Lang is the sponsor. The Skokie Democrat says the vote is a historic moment for women across the country.

Opposition during the two-hour debate ranged from concerns over more-accessible abortion to arguments that it would roll back protections for minorities.

The push to ratify took center stage once more after Nevada voted to ratify the amendment last year.