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Illinois lawmakers say progress made on stopgap budget

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Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Illinois lawmakers are returning to the state Capitol amid new signs of optimism about a bipartisan deal to keep the state operating without a full budget.

The Legislature is meeting Wednesday for the first time since lawmakers adjourned in May without approving a full-year spending plan for the second straight year.

Illinois’ new fiscal year begins Friday. That’s when billions in patchwork spending that lawmakers approved for the current year _ including money for K-12 education _ will epire.

Late Tuesday, legislative leaders said they made progress during a nearly three-hour meeting with Gov. Bruce Rauner and would meet again Wednesday morning.

Senate Democrats and Republican leaders filed competing plans Tuesday aimed at keeping schools open this fall.

The major disagreement has been over money for education, particularly in Chicago.