SPRINGFIELD – Because there is nothing more urgent in state government than passing a budget, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today called the Illinois General Assembly into a special session to deal with pending budget issues. The session will begin at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 24th, and it will last until a budget for fiscal year 2005 is passed. Governor Blagojevich said he and the legislative leaders are only about $200 million apart from reaching a final budget agreement, representing less than one-half of one percent of the total budget.
“Time is running out. The fiscal year ends one week from today,” said Governor Blagojevich. “We have talked. We have disagreed. We have compromised. It is time to pass a budget. It’s time to bring the legislature back to Springfield and finish the business of the people. “It’s time the entire legislature pass a balanced budget that meets our commitments without raising the people’s taxes. The budget we pass impacts every county in this state, every district, every school and every family. And every citizen of Illinois deserves to be represented in this process, both by me and by their elected representatives in the legislature. That’s why it’s time for all of us to come together and take the final steps necessary to pass this budget.”
The budget the Governor supports, and the budget that the Illinois Senate passed on May 31st, closes 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 Medicaid healthcare coverage they need.
To fund these priorities, the Governor supports a budget that makes “across the board” cuts in all areas except KidCare, FamilyCare, Medicaid enrollment and K-12 education, reduces the size of state government to its lowest headcount in 30 years, closes older, less efficient state facilities, consolidates hundreds of millions of dollars in surpluses from dedicated state funds, and closes unfair corporate tax loopholes.
“I’ve met with the four leaders consistently. We’ve made a lot of progress,” Governor Blagojevich said. Everyone has shown willingness to compromise. I don’t think we are far from the finish line. If everyone is working in good faith – there is no reason our work can’t be completed before the fiscal year ends. But, I will not let a budget deadline be an excuse for doing what I believe in my heart is wrong. Compromise? Yes. Seek common ground? Of course. But, I will take these actions understanding that there are seniors in Illinois who can’t afford prescription drugs without help. There are parents who trust us to care for and educate their kids. There are children who desperately need health care. We have cut a lot. This is a tough and lean budget. But, I will not cut the heart out of our state. I don’t want to do that. And when the men and women of the General Assembly return tomorrow, I can’t imagine they would either.”