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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2007

Momentum for Gov. Blagojevich's FY2008 budget proposal continues to build
Community groups and individuals in Peoria and Danville voice support for "Investing in Illinois Families" at endorsement events today

CHICAGO – The Governor’s Chief Operating Officer John Filan spoke to the City Club in Chicago today about Governor Rod R. Blagojevich’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget proposal, “Investing in Illinois Families,” as momentum builds throughout the state for support of the plan. As groups across the state continue to voice support for the Governor’s budget proposal, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley over the weekend urged the Illinois General Assembly to carefully look at the Governor’s proposed budget. Mayor Daley said the plan warrants close examination and that he supports the Governor’s proposal to increase education funding.

Highlights of the Governor’s plan for FY2008 include:

o An historic Tax Fairness Plan that closes corporate loopholes and gives the middle class the relief it deserves;

o A record new investment of $10 billion in schools over the next four years – nearly three times bigger than any increase in state history;

o “Illinois Covered,” an affordable, reliable healthcare plan to cover the 1.4 million uninsured adults in Illinois and provide assistance to millions of middle-income families and small businesses struggling to keep up with health insurance costs;

o Addressing the state’s long-time pension deficit and ensuring secure retirements for thousands of workers by leasing the Illinois Lottery and investing the proceeds toward the pension debt;

o And a billion dollar Capital Budget to make important investments in schools, roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure.

“Healthcare and high-quality educations should not be privileges for the very wealthy - everyone should have access to affordable health coverage, and our children should all have access to the best educations we can provide,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “Groups throughout Illinois recognize that this plan will allow us to expand healthcare for all, to fund our pensions, and to put more money in our schools without asking working families to shoulder the financial burden.”

“There is support and momentum building for Governor Blagojevich’s budget in every part of the state,” said the Governor’s Chief Operating Officer John Filan. “Small business owners, health care and education advocates and major media voices are embracing his plan to bring tax fairness to a broken system, while creating a sustainable revenue source to pump $10 billion into our schools and provide affordable health care to every adult in Illinois.”

On Saturday, Mayor Daley commented about the Governor’s plan, saying: “I’m hoping the General Assembly looks at it very carefully and there’s some excellent, excellent points in it.”

Today dozens of community organizations and individuals are voicing their support for the Governor’s Invest in Illinois Families plan at events in Danville and Peoria. Last week a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial praised the Governor’s plan saying that if passed by the General Assembly, Illinois could provide a model for the rest of the nation. Also last week, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Cindy Richards said while the federal government has yet to act on immediate problems like education and healthcare, Gov. Blagojevich’s plan provides solutions that are fair for everyone.

Since the Governor delivered his 2007 Budget Address, advocacy groups in Illinois have given their endorsements for his education and healthcare plans. Chicago Public Schools Chief Arne Duncan called the Governor’s Helping Kids Learn plan, which would give a record $3.8 billion in new dollars to Illinois schools, “bold” and “ambitious.” Following his lead, both state teachers unions have endorsed the Governor’s education plan. The Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers both praised Helping Kids Learn as a plan to give Illinois schoolchildren a better future.

Another crucial part of the Governor’s plan for FY2008 is “Illinois Covered,” Gov. Blagojevich’s plan to provide access to affordable quality healthcare for all Illinoisans. Since the Governor unveiled the plan during his budget address, Dick Kay, the Governor’s Special Healthcare Advocate has embarked on the Governor’s Drive for Healthcare, a grassroots bus tour throughout Illinois to meet with uninsured families and businesses that are struggling under the rising costs of healthcare. And later this week, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago travel to Springfield to lobby the General Assembly in support of “Illinois Covered,” which could reverse the course of HIV/AIDS in Illinois.



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