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State Budget That Depends On Federal Help, Other Pieces Of Legislation Now Await Gov. Pritzker’s Signature

EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) — Illinois state lawmakers were back home in their districts for the holiday Monday, after a whirlwind of a special session in Springfield.

Two of the winners after votes were cast were the City of Chicago and state restaurant and bar owners.

As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, everything now hinges on Gov. JB Pritzker’s signature. Nothing the Illinois General Assembly passed has been signed into law yet.

A spokesperson said it usually takes a day or two to get the bills to the governor’s desk.

Some of what passed offers possible long-term fixes, but other new laws could bring almost an immediate boost.

Janek Evans, co-owner of the Peckish Pig at 623 Howard St. in Evanston, is still manning the bar. He was hopeful Monday that he would get to mix the restaurant’s signature drinks again – soon – now that Illinois lawmakers have said yes to premixed cocktail carry-out.

It is a recipe that Evans said can only help their bottom line.

“Even if it’s a 5 percent, that might help us pay the light bill or pay the phone bill, you know?” Evans said. “And again, every single penny counts.”

That is the case especially for bars and lounges that do not serve food.

Curbside cocktails need to go in the trunk of a customer’s car.

“That shouldn’t be a problem at all,” Evans said.

The state House and Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill to allow for curbside cocktails during last week’s legislative session. The session was capped off by the passage of a $43 billion pandemic state budget.

“It gives stability to our hospitals and our health care system, and that’s hugely important,” said Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago).

But the budget is built on the need to borrow $5 billion from the outset, and relies on federal financial help to pay it back. That passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but is uncertain for the U.S. Senate.

“So the belief is that eventually, there will be a compromise that will help all of the states,” Harris said.

The nonpartisan Civic Federation’s Laurence Msall said that is a big “if,” which is a concern.

“It was not perfect,” Msall said. “It is a guess at what’s going to happen.”

Under the new budget, all state schools will get the same amount of funding – stay-at-home order or not. A Chicago casino is also now possible, which proponents – including Msall – said will help fund pensions.

But the timeline for that, too, is unknown.

Critics, especially Republican lawmakers, are frustrated that important issues like property tax relief and ethics reform were ignored.

“It’s good that we have a budget. It’s better than they years when we didn’t have a budget,” Msall said. “But the work in Springfield is not done.”

Being that the bills passed in a state House and Senate that are controlled by Democrats, and Gov. Pritzker is also a Democrat, there is no indication that he will veto any bill.

Lawmakers also failed to pass any legislation that would allow them to meet virtually, if need be, sometime in the fall.

Source: CBS Chicago

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