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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2007

Dozens of African-American ministers endorse Governor Blagojevich's plan to expand access to healthcare, invest more money in schools, bring about tax fairness
Ministers will reach out to members of the Illinois General Assembly and urge them to approve the Governor's plan to "Invest in Illinois Families"

CHICAGO Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today received the support of dozens of African American ministers, who met with him at First Church of Deliverance on Chicago’s Southside to endorse the Governor’s FY2008 budget proposal, Invest in Illinois Families.  To further underline their support, the ministers will reach out to members of the Illinois General Assembly and urge them to approve the Governor’s proposed budget.  The group is one of several that have come out in recent weeks to endorse the Governor’s plan to provide affordable access to healthcare for all, make a historic investment in public schools, and relieve the tax burden on individuals by asking big businesses to pay their fair share.
 
“Access to affordable healthcare and high-quality education should not be a privilege for the very wealthy – these are basic human rights,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  “In Illinois we are taking steps to make sure everyone has access to healthcare; we are taking steps to make sure our children are receiving the best education; and we are taking steps to make sure big corporations pay their fairs share.  And most importantly, we are doing all of this without passing the buck to working families.  We’re showing the rest of the country that in Illinois, we invest in our families.”
 
Highlights of the Governor’s plan for FY2008 include:
  • An historic Tax Fairness Plan that closes corporate loopholes and gives the middle class the relief it deserves;
  • A record new investment of $10 billion in schools over the next four years – nearly three times bigger than any increase in state history;
  • “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;
  • 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;
  • And a billion dollar Capital Budget to make important investments in schools, roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure.
Close to 200 African Americans ministers support the Governor’s plan. Besides the dozens congregated at First Church of Deliverance, ministers in Peoria, Decatur, East St. Louis and other regions across the state will issue statements endorsing the Governor’s proposals. The ministers and their congregations will send postcards to members of the Illinois General Assembly urging them to support the Governor’s plan.
 
“Governor Blagojevich has offered up solutions to two of the state’s largest problems – healthcare and education funding,” said Bishop Simon Gordon, pastor of Triedstone Full Gospel Baptist Church in Chicago.  “And instead of placing the financial burden on individuals already struggling to make ends meet, the Governor proposes placing that burden on large corporations that are not paying their fair share in taxes.  I would like to thank the Governor for building this plan around the working people of Illinois, and I hope the General Assembly keeps those working people in mind when voting on it.”
 
“Our children deserve to have access to the latest technologies and learning tools,” said Reverend Johnny Miller, of Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church.  “The funding proposed by Governor Blagojevich will make sure students are getting the most out of their time in the classroom.  I would ask that the General Assembly not hesitate to pass the Governor’s budget and give our children the educations they deserve.”
 
“So many families go into bankruptcy and even more drop their health coverage because they cannot keep up with the rising costs of health insurance,” said Reverend Walter Turner III, President of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Chicago.  “It is time that everyone has access to quality healthcare, and Governor Blagojevich’s Illinois Covered plan does just that.  Through his All Kids health insurance plan, the Governor made sure our children are healthy; now he is doing the same for their parents.”
 
Ministers are not the only ones one stepping forward to endorse the Governor’s Invest in Illinois Families plan.  Hundreds of community organizations have voiced their support for the plan since the Governor delivered his Budget Address on March 7.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch published an editorial praising the Governor’s plan and even went so far as to say that if passed by the General Assembly, it could provide a model for the rest of the nation.  And a Chicago Sun-Times columnist called the Governor’s plan fair for everyone.
 
Since the Governor delivered his 2007 Budget Address, advocacy groups in Illinois have given their endorsements for his education plan.  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, the Illinois Education Association and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, have endorsed the Governor’s plan to give Illinois children a better future.
 
Another crucial part of the Governor’s plan for FY2008 is Illinois Covered.  The Governor announced Illinois Covered during his budget address last week, and since then, advocates have been voicing the support for the plan.  The Governor appointed Dick Kay, a retired, respected television newsman, Special Healthcare Advocate.  Kay has since 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.  He has spent the last week listening to the stories of uninsured Illinois families, and he will continue to do so in the coming weeks. 
 
Attendees included: Pastor Ira Acree, Pastor James Dukes, Pastor William Jenkins, Jr., Pastor William Jenkins, Sr., Pastor Jonathan Jordan, Pastor Charles Mickens, Pastor Michael Randle, Pastor William Staten, Pastor Carl White, Sr., Rev. Samuel Hinckle, Rev. James Demus, Rev. Leonard Barr, Rev. Walter Johnson, Rev. Marvin Alexander, Rev. Otis Allen, Rev. Derrick Anderson, Rev. Henry A. Barlow, Rev. C.E. Barnes, III, Rev. Irvin Barrett, Rev. Eugene Bates, Rev. Michael Bonds, Rev. J.C. Boyd, Bishop Laman Brett, Rev. Anthony Briscoe, Elder Darryl Coleman, Rev. Tyrone Crider, Rev. Lenard Deville, Elder Michael Eady, Rev. Steve Epting, Bishop Charles Ford, Reverend F.L. Gholar,  Bishop Simon Gordon, Rev. Dwight Gunn, Rev. Lucius Hall, Rev. Marshall Hatch, Rev. Henderson Hill, Rev. Andre Hope, Bishop Otto Houston, Bishop William Jackson, Pastor Floyd James, Rev. Charles Jenkins, Pastor W. James Jenkins, Rev. William Jenkins, Rev. Dr. Joseph Jones, Bishop Steve Jones, Rev. Larue Kidd, Rev. E.F. Ledbetter, Jr., Rev Emanuel Little, Pastor John Long, Rev. Ivan Phillips, Rev. Woodard Williams, Rev. Robert Williams, Apostle Carl White, Rev. Ira Wheaton, Rev. Roosevelt Watkins, Rev. Albert Tyson, Rev. Walter Turner, Bishop Larry Trotter, Rev. Stephen Thurston, Rev. James Thomas, Rev. Darnell Taylor, Bishop Robert Sanders, Rev. Leslie Sanders, Rev. Albert Sampson, Rev. Wyatt Rush, Apostle Ulysses Ruff, Sr., Rev. Charles Rogers, Pastor Larry Roberts, Rev. John H. Rice, Rev. Howard Randolph, Bishop Claude Porter, Rev. Warner Pitts, Elder Jefferey Mullins, Rev. O.C. Morgan, Rev. Matthew Miller, Rev. Leon Miller, Rev. Johnny Miller, Apostle William McCoy, Pastor Walter Matthews, Rev. Alvin Love.


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