CHICAGO — Illinois lawmakers are expected to convene this week to approve a revised Chicago-area transit bailout package that provides $500 million in new annual operating aid and authorizes the sale of $2 billion of bonds for the Chicago Transit Authority to address its unfunded pension and health care liabilities.

The bailout’s approval comes after months of political wrangling amid threats of looming fare increases and dramatic service cuts in the Chicago area, including the latest that were set to take effect Jan. 20. Lawmakers last Thursday finally agreed to a plan that raises the sales tax in the Chicago region but the bill was sent back by Gov. Rod Blagojevich who included a provision that would allow seniors statewide to use public transportation for free.

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