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IL Senate Rejects Immigrant Licenses, Hospital Tax

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(KWMU file photo)

By AP/KWMU

Springfield, Ill. – The Illinois State Senate on Thursday rejected two measures. One would have allowed illegal immigrants to get drivers license, it fell one vote short. The other proposal would have increased taxes on hospitals.

The illegal immigrants legislation got only 29 of the 30 votes it needed to pass. Twenty-six Senators voted "no."

But Chicago Democrat Miguel del Valle says he will call the measure for another vote. He says he has not decided whether to do it this fall or wait for the spring legislative session.

His measure would have made about 180,000 illegal immigrants eligible to apply for licenses. Supporters argue giving them licenses would improve safety by ensuring that immigrants get proper training and can buy insurance.

Critics question whether it would really improve road safety. And they say it's wrong to give official documents to people who are here illegally.

In other action, the Senate rejected a plan to increase taxes on hospitals to help pay for patients who can't afford health care.

The Senate voted 30-to-15 for the plan, but it needed 36 because it was set to take effect immediately.

The tax would bring in nearly $500 million to help cover health care costs. Hospitals would pay the tax under the measure but get it back and more in matching funds from the federal government under the Medicaid program. Other programs would get money to pay for poor patients, too.

Supporters say hospitals desperately need the money and they will push for another vote during the current fall veto session.

But Senate Republicans who helped block the bill say they're not sure exactly how the money would spent and the tax could be passed on to consumers.

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