SPRINGFIELD — Illinois has limped along without a budget since July and solving that gridlock will be lawmakers’ top priority in the impending session, a time when they’ve traditionally turned attention to passing a fresh budget for the coming fiscal year.
The epic budget fight that’s crippling many state services will overshadow other key issues lawmakers want to address in the 2016 session, which begins Wednesday, including legislation to allow recall efforts against Chicago mayors and regulating fantasy sports gambling.
Upcoming elections could weigh heavily and delay the budget deliberations. There are few session days scheduled before primaries March 15, and even if there’s a deal before then, some lawmakers may be reluctant to take on tough votes if they’re in tight contests.
In fact, lawmakers will be off to a slow start. While the Senate is meeting Wednesday, House lawmakers won’t convene until Jan. 27, the day of the State of the State address, because the “workload was not there,” said Steve Brown, the spokesman for Speaker Michael Madigan.
Despite rare, celebrated meetings last month between Republican Gov. Bruce…