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House Members Head Back To Session: What's Ahead

Luis Arroyo
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois

For the first time in three weeks, state representatives will convene in Springfield Thursday.

Not much has changed in those three weeks. There's still no agreement between Democratic legislators and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on a state budget.

But representatives are back anyway, and they do have some budget measures on the table.

For one, they're set to discuss Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposal to exempt some middle-class homeowners from paying higher property taxes.

House Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman, Steve Brown says he "it's his intent to support the bill, and to try to get it passed. We’re still waiting for the final version and that will determine how far it can go, but I think the Speaker has said from the outset that he's for tax relief for working class, middle class families which is where this idea is targeted."

It's unclear if there are any plans to try to give homeowners statewide that same type of relief.

Brown also says lawmakers will hold a special hearing, a committee of the whole, "that will look at the disruptions that have been caused in law enforcement training, and mental health services, because of the budget impasse."

Police chiefs, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, and directors of counseling centers are set to testify. Brown says the House will then likely take a vote to fund these needs.

The last time the House met, it barely missed having the votes to reverse cuts Gov. Rauner made to a program that helps low-income parents afford child-care.

Brown says whether the House tries again depends on attendance, and if there's bipartisan support. Democrats had the bare minimum 71 members that'd be needed to do it; they're down one following the cancer-related death of a Chicago legislator, Rep. Esther Golar, earlier this week.

A separate hearing is scheduled for a stopgap funding measure that previously passed the Senate, however it's not expected to go before the full House. That $3.8 billion spending bill covers Lottery payouts, treatment for autism, cancer screenings and other programs.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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