The Illinois Senate voted 31-27 Tuesday in favor of raising the state tax on cigarettes by $1, from 98 cents to $1.98 per pack. The House approved the bill Friday, which now heads to the desk of Gov. Pat Quinn, who's been a vocal supporter of the tax hike since the earliest drafts of this year's state budget.
Illinois legislators have approved $1.6 billion in budget cuts to the state's Medicaid program, which will reduce health coverage for hundreds of thousands of poor Illinois residents. The budget adjustments were passed by a 94-22 vote in the House, and the Senate approved it 44-13 Thursday evening. The plan will raise prescription drug costs for 180,000 low-income seniors by eliminating the state-paid pharmacy assistance program, Illinois Cares Rx, freeing up $72.2 million. Another almost $399.8 million will be saved by making Medicaid and Family Care requirements stricter, rendering hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans ineligible for supplemented care.
Thirty votes were required for passage in the Senate; the measure could come up again during the current session. HB 5290 would have required schools to include a definition of bullying and a statement saying it was against the law.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.)'s ex-wife Kimberly Vertolli has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that the senator may have illegally hidden campaign payments to a consultant, his then-live-in girlfriend. The FEC could yet decide to either dismiss the complaint or begin an investigation into the matter. Kirk, 52, is still recovering from a serious stroke he suffered in January.