New budget means $389 million more for Illinois schools and funding to help 150,000 seniors, children and families keep their health care coverage
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today signed the Fiscal Year 2005 budget that invests nearly $1 billion in new funding into schools and health care and closes an anticipated $2.3 billion deficit. Statewide, schools will benefit from a $389 million increase in education funding; 150,000 Medicaid patients will keep their current health coverage, and 76,000 more children and working adults will finally gain access to health care coverage. The new spending plan takes effect August 1st.
“A state budget is more than just numbers. A state budget helps people. The budget I signed today helps more children go to pre-school, it helps more families receive health care, and it helps more seniors pay for prescription drugs. And, we are able to do all of this without asking the taxpayers to pay more in their income taxes or sales taxes. For the second year in a row, we were able to balance the state deficit and invest money where we need it most,” said Governor Blagojevich.
The $43 billion general operations budget for FY05 focuses invests in education, healthcare and public safety:
- Increases spending on K-12 schools by $389 million.
- Provides funding to allow 8,300 more young children attend preschool.
- Allows more than 1,000 additional students to receive college scholarships through the MAP program.
- Boosts spending to allow all current Medicaid patients to keep their coverage.
- Expands health coverage to 56,000 more working adults and 20,000 more children from low-income families
- Allows 170,000 low-income working people to maintain their eligibility and keep the child care services they need.
- Increases prescription drug coverage for senior citizens by $100 million
- Increases funding for community services for the developmentally disabled by $40.1 million, allowing 200 more developmentally disabled individuals to receive in-home care and providing a wage increase for personal assistants who help developmentally disabled individuals continue living at home
- Increases funding for AIDS prevention and breast and cervical cancer screenings
- Launches a plan to put 500 additional Illinois State Police officers on the streets.
- Dedicates an additional $3.3 million to training new forensic scientists and outsourcing a portion of the existing DNA backlog so that the current backlog will be eliminated by December 31, 2004.
- Expands programs that deter crime like Operation Spotlight – the Governor’s long-term effort to double the number of parole officers. In addition, the newly-reopened Sheridan drug rehabilitation facility that offers comprehensive substance abuse treatment services to non-violent offenders will be fully funded.
To pay for these critical investments in education, health care and public safety, the FY05 budget:
- Cuts nearly $1.3 billion by across-the-board reductions in operational costs.
- Merges various agencies and functions for a total estimated savings of $15 million.
- Reduces the State Employee Headcount to 60,000 full-time employees, which is the lowest level since 1972, the earliest period when data is available.
- Closes unfair corporate tax loopholes to raises more than $150 million in new revenue.
- Transfers $260 million in surplus moneys from special funds.
· Increases some non-consumer fees and fines.