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Lawmakers have lots to discuss in spring session

SPRINGFIELD -- Spring legislative session is right around the corner.
SPRINGFIELD -- Spring legislative session is right around the corner. That's when lawmakers head back to town to hash out the state's rules. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels has a preview of what to expect from the capitol over the next few months.

Lawmakers have been busy here over the past few years. They've tackled most of the state's biggest issues, like pension funds and concealed-carry. But, with each new year comes new challenges.

One of the biggest topics we're likely to talk a lot about in the coming year is minimum wage. Governor Quinn says he wants to raise it to $10 by Christmas. To meet his deadline, lawmakers will have to hash it out this spring, but political expert Kent Redfield says it's unlikely.

"It's hard to imagine we'll have major kind of policy changes."

That's because it's an election year and candidates on both sides don't want to take risky votes before the primary.

"Everybody has that campaign they want to be working on. Mostly, they're going to try and just not do any damage in terms of positioning themselves for the campaigns in the fall."

Which means, little actual work will get done.

"It'll mostly be press-release type stuff."

Still, by law, there is one thing they have to cross off their to-do list; the budget. This year's budget will be especially tough since the temporary tax increase is set to expire in the middle of the next fiscal year.

"The budget's going to have to have less money than last year, which means cuts."

From where, no one knows yet. But, UIS professor Kent Redfield says, don't expect anything too drastic.

"The real problems, the real serious issues are all going to be put off until after the election."

Lawmakers return to work Wednesday. That's when Governor Quin will deliver his State of the State address. Spring session runs through the end of May.
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