Speaker Madigan's Budget Plan
Members of the Illinois House are spending Wednesday afternoon in a series of budget hearings. The House Speaker says that's meant to lead the way to an income tax vote.
The hearings all focus on one thing: Illinois' next spending plan.
In particular, one that spends money as if Illinois' income tax rate is still 5-percent -- even though the rate is set to drop halfway through the next fiscal year.
Critics say it's illegal for the House to go forward spending at higher levels, without first voting to extend the higher tax.
But House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Democrat, says there's a reason he's doing it in this order.
"Our purpose in advancing the budget first is to set the bar against which we will work to convince people to vote for the revenue," Madigan says. Basically, show legislators what all the tax increase would pay for.
Democrats say huge cuts would result if Illinois' tax rate is allowed to drop.
But getting the votes for a tax hike in an election year is proving difficult.
Madigan says he's building support. "We try to work with people, persuade people, cajole people," he says.
He wouldn't say how many more legislators he has left to convince.