MOLINE – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today joined community leaders, business owners, healthcare advocates, families, and community members to rally support for his Investing in Families budget plan in Moline. The crowd of supporters gathered together at The Mark of the Quad Cities in Moline on the first night of the Governor’s Investing in Families bus tour, a four-day tour across Illinois to promote his budget plan. The proposed budget includes the Illinois Covered plan to provide affordable comprehensive insurance 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 wealthy 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.
“We have a unique opportunity to fundamentally reform the way state government meets its responsibilities so that middle class and working families are at the center of what we do,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “This kind of community support is exactly what we need to make the Investing in Families plan a reality. I urge all of you to contact your legislators so we can make Illinois a better place to live by making sure every family can get affordable health coverage, by reducing pension debt, and by increasing funding for our schools. These are attainable goals. We just need to stick together and make sure our voices are heard.”
During the rally, several local elected officials and members from various business, education, and community organizations spoke in support of the Governor’s Investing in Families plan, including Rock Island County Treasurer Lu Ann Kerr, Rock Island State’s Attorney Jeff Terronez, and Assistant Regional Superintendent of Rock Island County Jim Widdop.
“Quality healthcare, education, and tax fairness should be a community effort. I believe Gov. Blagojevich is working towards that goal,” said Rock Island County State's Attorney Jeff Terronez. “Businesses should want to invest in the community in which they reside. They should want to invest so that everyone's quality of life and their ability to give back as a consumer continues to grow.”
Earlier today, Gov. Blagojevich received support from nearly 200 healthcare, education, business, religious, government and labor organizations from around the state as he kicked off the first day of his Investing in Families bus tour in Chicago. This week the Governor is traveling Illinois to promote his Fiscal Year 2008 budget plan, stopping at restaurants, businesses, schools, and rallies in communities all across the state.
“With the rising cost of healthcare, there is no way I am able to afford healthcare insurance for myself, my family or my employees without going out of business,” said Aaron Harlan, owner of Property Maintenance, Inc. in East Moline. “Gov. Blagojevich has put forth a plan that will provide small business owners like myself with the access to affordable healthcare that we deserve, keeping Illinois healthier and our economy stronger. I stand today with Gov. Blagojevich to call on our lawmakers to make this plan a reality.”
“Because of a pre-existing medical condition, I haven't been able to get affordable healthcare coverage. Not having that coverage for myself or for my college-aged children is a huge risk and a big worry,” said Colleen Carmack, owner of New Frontier Barber Shop in Rock Island. “Gov. Blagojevich's Investing in Families initiative is all about fairness and taking a stand for families like mine to be able to build better, healthier lives. The time is now to make a change and implement a system that ensures all Illinois residents have access to affordable healthcare.”
Gov. Blagojevich’s FY08 budget proposal includes fundamental changes that will benefit the people of Illinois for generations to come. The Governor’s Illinois Covered plan will ensure that all 1.4 million uninsured adults 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.
“Gov. Blagojevich has put forth a plan that is a step in the right direction to meet the educational needs of Illinois' children,” said Rock Island County Assistant Regional Superintendent James Widdop. “As educators, we have been waiting for a workable action plan that puts needed resources into quality classrooms and school facilities. The Governor's plan will help make this goal a reality.”
Recently, Gov. Blagojevich’s plan received support from the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Education Association. Both groups, representing thousands of teachers and school staff throughout the state, are advocating the Helping Kids Learn plan to invest an unprecedented $10 billion in schools over the next four years – nearly three times bigger than any increase in state history. For Illinois’s deteriorating schools, the plan will invest more than $1.5 billion in a capital construction plan for projects to improve and upgrade classrooms and schools. Under the plan, general state aid to schools will increase by more than $800 million next year, raising the Foundation Level for each student by $724 to $6,058.
Highlights of the Governor’s plan for FY08 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 – and property tax relief for homeowners across the state;
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; and,
o A Capital Budget to make important investments in schools, roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure.