CHICAGO - The Illinois House began voting on its own version of a state operating budget yesterday, although few lawmakers held out hope they would resolve their differences in time to pass a final spending plan, approve a capital budget, and vote on such other major proposals as a $16 billion pension bond before their scheduled adjournment next week.

The General Assembly also has on its crowded plate legislation establishing a new hospital assessment program to leverage additional federal Medicaid dollars, new ethics rules, and a restructuring of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority's debt. Lawmakers also have a $750 million hole to plug in the current fiscal 2008 budget that runs through June 30.

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