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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2004

Blagojevich calls on legislature to protect Medicaid, continue funding health care for people in need
Governor’s budget includes $600 million in new funding to avoid kicking people off of Medicaid rolls and to provide new coverage for children, families and senior citizens Illinois one of only three states to increase funding for Medicaid in FY 2004; FY2005 in doubt unless legislature is willing to make tough spending cuts and revenue enhancements

CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today called on members of the General Assembly to protect Illinois’ investment in health care by approving funding slated to provide health care for children, adults and senior citizens who need it, and avoid having to remove people from the Medicaid rolls. At Mt. Sinai Hospital in Chicago, the Governor explained that in the upcoming budget, the legislature faces choices like closing corporate loopholes in order to protect programs like Medicaid, Kid Care, Family Care and Senior Care, and the 2 million people who benefit from them. 
 
Blagojevich proposed spending $600 million in the FY05 budget to protect Medicaid and health care for those who otherwise could not afford it.  Illinois faces a deficit of $1.7 billion and Blagojevich proposed a series of spending cuts and corporate loophole closings in order to balance the budget without raising income or sales taxes and while protecting the state’s investments in health care, education, and public safety.
 
“We can balance this budget and provide health coverage for an additional 56,000 people without raising the sales or income taxes as long as we are willing to make hard choices.  It means closing corporate loopholes.  It means cutting other government programs.  It means saying “no” to lobbyists,” Gov. Blagojevich said.  “Health care is more than a privilege.  It’s a fundamental right.  Everyone should have health care and as we go through this budget process, we cannot forget that.  That’s why I’m calling on the legislature to protect our investment in health care for people who need it.”
 
Last year, despite record deficits, Illinois was one of only three states to increase health insurance for people without it.  Nearly two million people in the state of Illinois rely on government programs such as Medicaid, FamilyCare, KidCare and SeniorCare for their health care needs.  During Blagojevich’s first year in office, 120,000 children, families, seniors and newly-disabled enrolled in state health care programs. 
 
Continuing to provide health care for Illinoisans in need will cost the state an additional $600 million.  For the state to afford that commitment and to balance the budget deficit, Governor Blagojevich proposed a series of tough budget cuts.  Those include closing tax loopholes that allow wealthy corporations to avoid paying their fair share in state taxes and closing several state facilities.   
 
“The legislature, understandably has expressed some concern about having to make difficult choices.  I know it’s not easy to say no to your friends, but here’s what not making those choices means, in real terms to real people.  If the legislature repeals the truckers’ fee for $102 million, that amount is equivalent to kicking 49,000 people off Medicaid.  If the legislature refuses to close the corporate loophole on canned software for $64 million, that amount is equivalent to kicking 30,000 people off Medicaid.  If the legislature refuses to close prisons that we don’t need for $52 million, that amount is equivalent to kicking 25,000 people off Medicaid,” said Governor Blagojevich.
 
The Governor’s budget proposal for FY05 eliminates the $1.7 billion deficit while funding his core priorities, health care, public safety and education.  His proposal includes an additional $400 million for K-12 education, puts new Illinois State Police officers on the streets and provides health care to more people – not less.
 
“With a $1.7 billion deficit, protecting these priorities isn’t easy.  I recognize that.  But, we’ve offered a budget that meets the needs of every single one of those priorities.  Because these priorities reflect the priorities of the people of this state,” said the Governor.  “The ball is now in the legislature’s court.  I know what my priorities are.  I know they’re the right priorities.  I hope the legislature shares them.”


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