Illinois senators have sent the first piece of a new state budget to Gov. Pat Quinn. It passed 34-25 on Thursday, with Republicans saying it contains gimmicks meant to disguise bad policies. But Democrats say it cuts $700 million from the parts of the budget where officials have discretion to make reductions. When mandatory items like pensions are included, overall spending increases about $400 million. The spring legislative session is scheduled to end Thursday at midnight. But before lawmakers can go home, they must pass a new state budget and decide a long list of other issues.
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