Illinois Senate approves plan to bridge budget gap

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Legislature has approved a plan ending weeks of negotiations over plugging a $1.6 billion hole in this year’s state budget.

The legislation passed the Democratic-led Senate Thursday afternoon by a 32-26 vote with all 20 Republicans voting for it. It authorizes Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to transfer $1.3 billion from other purposes, including parks and conservation. The rest comes from a 2.25 percent across-the-board budget cut. It also gives Rauner authority over $97 million to distribute to needy schools.

Rauner appeared on the chamber floor to shake the hands of senators after the measure passed. He says he intends to sign the measure as soon as possible.

Lawmakers faced a fast-approaching deadline to act as funds were running out for a number of state programs and agencies.