Members of the Illinois General Assembly return to the Capitol today for the final push of the spring legislative session. Crafting a spending plan for the budget year that begins July first remains the top priority. Top Democrats are still urging that 2011's temporary tax hike be made permanent, but they've been unable to win support among members of the Illinois House. And yet only five representatives voted in favor of an austerity budget last Friday. Democratic Representative Greg Harris, from Chicago, favors extending the current five percent tax rate. He says he hopes lawmakers spent Memorial Day weekend thinking through the difficult choices ahead:
"Do I really want to have to tell people in my communities: 'No more home-delivered meals for your grandparents'? Do they really want to go and tell people in their communities: 'We're going to have 60 kids in your kids' classrooms'? Or are they going to say, 'Look, I need to do the right thing,' and just vote for continuing the tax levels at the levels we have now."
Democrats are said to be crafting a budget that's not as harsh as last week's failed austerity plan, but still doesn't count on a tax extension. Legislators have just six days until the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn for the summer.
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