State only receives 77 cents from every dollar sent to Washington
Governor says Illinois deserves better
CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley joined forces today in Washington, D.C. to lobby members of Congress to increase the state and city’s share of federal dollars.
“Illinois currently only receives a return of 77 cents from the federal government for every dollar we send to Washington, ranking us as the fifth lowest state in terms of reimbursement,” Blagojevich said. “The message the mayor and I have delivered today is that Illinois and Chicago deserve to do better.
“Too often we in Illinois have seen other state’s profit at our expense, whether it be defense, public service, social service or transportation dollars. We have specific needs in our state and it is our responsibility to work with our state’s congressional delegation to bring home money to meet those needs.”
High on the list of priorities for both the governor and the mayor is a reauthorization of the transportation equity act to improve Illinois’ share of federal highway funding and commitments for key transportation projects, including a new bridge over the Mississippi River near St. Louis, reconstruction of North-South Wacker Drive, Chicago and regional mass transit projects, Chicago’s bridge rehabilitation program, western access to O’Hare International Airport and reconstruction of the Lake Michigan shoreline.
In the area of public safety, the state and city have concerns about recent proposals to consolidate and reduce law enforcement grants, including the Edward Byrne State Block Grant and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant that are essential to fighting crime at the state and local level. In addition, Blagojevich wants to ensure the state receives an appropriate amount of homeland security money from the recently passed Wartime Supplemental legislation. The governor said a key priority to be funded from the state’s share of that bill is the purchase this year of personal protective equipment for all of the state’s 80,000 first responders.
Any reduction in these programs would severely affect state and local criminal justice activities, the governor said. For example, the $20 million in Byrne grants Illinois receives has been used to support salaries of more than 350 law enforcement officers from Chicago to Rock Island and from Rockford to Cairo.
With the state facing a nearly $5 billion budget deficit, Blagojevich was seeking assistance from Congress to increase the federal Medicaid match from 50 percent to 55 percent, which would generate an additional $430 million in new state revenues. This new funding would support the state’s efforts to expand KidCare eligibility to 20,000 more children and Family Care to up to 300,000 working parents over a three-year period. The governor also was seeking support for Illinois’ application to expand Circuit Breaker to include all prescription drugs.
The governor also pushed for an overall increase in federal education funding as well as for the federal government to meet its obligation of providing 40 percent for state special education funding rather than the 15 percent now supplied and asked the state’s delegation to support passage of legislation to create a Medicare prescription drug benefit for all seniors.
The balance of the federal commitment to complete the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum -- $24.5 million -- was on Blagojevich’s list of priorities to discuss with Illinois lawmakers. With the continued support from Washington, the library should open to the public later this summer and museum is scheduled to open in late 2004. It will be the repository of the state’s 47,000-item Lincoln collection.
The governor met with House Speaker Dennis Hastert to outline the state’s priorities and to seek Hastert’s assistance in retaining military operations at the Rock Island Arsenal and Scott Air Force Base. Blagojevich has promised to lead a fight for retention of the bases and Hastert has pledged to assist with the effort.