Closer Look: Illinois lawmakers near finish line

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Illinois lawmakers say they just might manage to cut pension costs, strengthen the Medicaid system and pass a budget on schedule.

The spring legislative session is supposed to end on Thursday. If lawmakers miss the deadline, it will require more votes to pass any bills, and that could lead to gridlock.

Deep cuts to health services for the poor have passed already, and the House has approved a cigarette tax increase to pump money into Medicaid. Now the Senate must vote on the tax.

A pension plan has not surfaced yet, but officials say they're making progress. They could wind up reducing the annual cost-of-living increases for retirees.

That would leave the budget, which is likely to cut spending in virtually all parts of state government.

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