DU QUOIN – Southern Illinois University President Glenn Poshard and Governor Blagojevich’s senior Policy Advisor Bob Arya today joined more than 25 organizations and individuals, including healthcare providers, education supporters, local government officials, and other nonprofit organizations in Southern Illinois, who are expressing their support for the Governor’s Investing in Families Initiatives, the Governor’s proposed budget for FY08. The initiatives include the Illinois Covered plan to provide affordable, comprehensive healthcare coverage to all Illinoisans, the Helping Kids Learn plan to invest an additional $10 billion in Illinois schools over the next four years, the Tax Fairness Plan that requires big businesses to pay their fair share and gives the middle class the relief it deserves, and a plan to address the state’s long-time pension deficit and ensure secure retirements for thousands of workers.
“This year we are taking a leap towards the future,” said Governor Blagojevich. “If the General Assembly passes these initiatives, the future promises fully funded schools for our kids, affordable comprehensive health insurance for all Illinoisans, and a fair tax system. I am proud of the support Southern Illinois small businesses and organizations have given to this plan and look forward to working with them to win legislative support.”
Businesses, local government and nonprofit organizations from southern Illinois are praising Governor Blagojevich’s forward thinking initiatives. With nearly 15% of adults in Perry County and more than 21% of adults in neighboring Jackson County without health insurance, many in the area believe that the Governor’s proposed Illinois Covered plan will bring much needed relief.
“The Governor has set a bold and exiting new course for our state when it comes to a vision for education and health care. Both are key to the future of our state. His continued support of young children and their families has been critical to improving their access to high quality early care and education,” said Lori Longueville, Director of Child Care Resource and Referral at John A Logan College. “When it comes to Preschool for All, the real question is not, SHOULD we pay for it... but WHEN should we pay for it? It makes much more sense to invest in our children's success, rather than pay the higher cost of failure in later years.”
“Public investments in education and health care are fundamental obligations of a democratic society that ought not to depend on where a young person is raised or where a senior citizen becomes sick,” Poshard said. “This budget plan recognizes the necessary role the state must play in leveling the educational playing field between rich and poor school districts, as well as providing the opportunity to grow our health care industry in southern Illinois by guaranteeing an insured population.”
Governor Blagojevich has put forth a historic budget proposal with fundamental changes that will benefit the people of Illinois for generations to come. The Governor’s Illinois Covered will ensure all 1.4 million uninsured have access to quality, affordable healthcare, and will help many middle-income families and small businesses that are currently enrolled in health insurance plans save thousands a year on healthcare costs. The plan will also reform the existing healthcare system to improve quality and require more accountability.
“Over the last four years, Governor Blagojevich has helped more working families in Illinois get healthcare than ever before,” said Arya. “Now is the time to build on that progress, and help every Illinoisan get access to the healthcare they deserve. It is a privilege to stand with civic leaders and advocates in Southern Illinois in support of the Governor’s bold initiatives for working families.”
Also included in the Investing in Families Initiatives is the Governor’s Helping Kids Learn, which continues the Governor’s commitment to schools by boosting funding by an unprecedented $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2008. Under the plan, general state aid to schools will increase by $800 million, raising the Foundation Level by $724 to $6,058. With more funds per pupil, schools can make investments to improve textbook quality, modernize their technology, or invest in teachers.
Under the plan, the state will give schools additional funds to hire special educations teachers and fully fund ‘mandated categorical’ programs like special education and transportation. The plan will accelerate implementation of Preschool for All and dedicate additional resources for school districts that provide full-day kindergarten. Underperforming school districts will get extra funds for if they invest in proven strategies that raise student achievement. For Illinois’s deteriorating schools, the plan will invest in a capital construction plan for projects so children can learn and teachers can teach in a more conducive environment.
The Governor proposed a major reform of Illinois’ corporate tax system in order to provide sustainable funding for education and healthcare. In Illinois, the share of state revenues coming from individual income taxes instead of corporate income taxes has consistently increased during each of the last three decades. To reverse that trend, Governor Blagojevich unveiled a Tax Fairness Plan in his Budget Address earlier this month.
The Governor’s Tax Fairness Plan implements a Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) that has been embraced by many economists because of its broad base and low rates. States including Washington, Delaware and Hawaii have had a GRT for years, and recently, Ohio and Texas have adopted a form of the tax. The tax will better reflect the changes in Illinois’ economy since the Corporate Income Tax was implemented thirty years ago when goods dominated the state’s economy. Today ‘new economy’ businesses – primarily services – represent the majority of Illinois’ business activity. In fact, goods-based businesses make up only 35% of Illinois’ economy, but pay 53% of the corporate income tax; services-based businesses make up 65% of Illinois’ economy, but pay only 47% of the corporate income tax.
The GRT will only apply to businesses that make more than $1 million each year, which means that small businesses – 75% of all businesses in Illinois – will be exempt. The GRT will tax service industries at a low 1.8%, while manufacturers, construction, retail and wholesale companies will be taxed at an even lower .5%. Exports will not be taxed. The plan also mitigates costs being passed on to consumers by excluding certain goods, such as retail food and pharmaceuticals. By transitioning to the GRT, Illinois will rid itself from loopholes that allow major corporations to avoid paying their fair share of taxes to the state, and is expected to generate $3 billion in new revenue in fiscal year 2008, and more than $6 billion during its first full year in effect.
The Governor’s budget also addresses the State of Illinois’ increasing pension obligation – the state’s most pressing structural deficit challenge. Thirty years of under-funding the state employee pension system, combined with passing billions of dollars in unfunded pension sweeteners, has created the largest state pension debt in the nation. Governor Blagojevich laid out a landmark plan that would use the proceeds from a long-term lease the Illinois State Lottery to provide an immediate infusion of at least $10 billion into the state’s pension system. He also proposed issuing $16 billion in pension obligation bonds that will help put the system on stronger fiscal footing. Altogether, the Governor’s plan will save more than $60 billion between now and 2045.
Groups and individuals supporting the Governor’s plan include:
Christopher Mayor Gary Bartalotti
Franklin County Clerk Dave Dobill
Saline County Clerk Willie McClusky
Jackson County Treasurer Shirley Dillinger Booker
Jackson County Board Chairman John Evans
Jackson County Board Commissioner Bob Lorinskas
Jackson County Board Commissioner Karl Maple
Jackson County Clerk Larry Reinhardt
Perry County Clerk Kevin Kern
Perry County Board Chairman James Booker
Perry County Treasurer Bill Taylor
Perry County Board Commissioner James Epplin
Perry County Supervisor of Assessments Robin Edwards
Illinois Association for Education of Young Children, Lori Longueville, Carterville
Dave’s Barber Shop, Owner Dave Olshon, Anna
Patricia Murphy Advocate, Mt. Vernon
Jennifer Helman, Social Service, Ullin
Village of Broughton Trustee Robert Barker
Village of Broughton Clerk Betty Lasater
Village of Broughton President Joe D. Ruford
Mayberry Township Road Commissioner Kenneth Short
Mayberry Township Trustee Patsy Simpson
Mayberry Township Supervisor Mike Simpson
Norris City Mayor Carl Whipple
Indian Creek Township Supervisor Luther Johnson