Blagojevich visits Metro East, Quad Cities and Rockford to urge lawmakers to support a budget that strengthens commitment to education and healthcare
SPRINGFIELD - During visits to pre-schools in three different Illinois communities, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today called on members of the Illinois House of Representatives to approve a state budget that includes new funding to enroll more at-risk children in pre-school and new funding for education and healthcare. The Governor's budget, that passed in the Illinois Senate a week ago, funds this state's priorities without raising the sales or income taxes.
The budget supported by Governor Blagojevich and Senate Democrats, increases funding by nearly $141 million for downstate Illinois schools for early childhood education, mandated categoricals and a $250 per student increase in general state aid. The general state aid increase alone means an additional $16 million for Metro East schools, nearly $5.5 million for Quad Cities’ schools, $10 million for Peoria area schools, $5.7 million for Springfield area schools, nearly $8.6 for Bloomington-Normal area schools, nearly $4 million for Southern Illinois schools, nearly $2 million for Quincy area schools, more than $4.6 million for Decatur area schools, more than $9.5 million for Champaign-Urbana area schools and nearly $34 million for Rock River Valley area schools.
"The debate going on in Springfield is about far more than how we meet our financial obligations. It's really about what kind of state we want to be," Governor Blagojevich said. "We could raise the sales or income taxes. We could cut funding for schools. We could deny health care to those in need. Or we can say 'no' to the special interests, close unneeded state facilities and reduce the size of state government. That's what I have chosen. It's what Senate President Emil Jones and Senate Democrats chose when they passed our budget last week. It's what members of the Illinois House should do."
The budget that passed in the Illinois Senate balances the state deficit, while strengthening the state’s commitments to education and healthcare. It includes resources to enroll an additional 8,000 at-risk children in preschool and funding to allow 150,000 men, women and children to continue receiving the healthcare they need. To fund these priorities, the budget makes 2.25% "across the board" cuts in all state agencies, except KidCare, FamilyCare, Medicaid enrollment and K-12 education. The budget also reduces the size of state government to its lowest number of positions in 30 years, closes unneeded state facilities, consolidates hundreds of millions of dollars in surpluses from dedicated state funds and closes unfair corporate tax loopholes.
"This debate is really about whether we're willing to make fundamental changes in the way government works, so we can offer people more without raising their taxes. To do that, we have to rethink our priorities and say 'no' to a lot of special interests who have only heard 'yes' from state government for a long time. It's not easy - change never is. But, it's the right thing to do," said the Governor.