MARION – 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 Marion. The crowd of supporters gathered together at the Marion Civic Center in Marion on the third 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 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, religious and community organizations spoke in support of the Governor’s Investing in Families plan, including Regional Superintendent of Franklin-Williamson County Schools Dr. Ronda Baker, Secretary of the Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nurses Julie Adkins, RN, and Director and CEO of Southtown Youth Programs Reverend Gordon.
“We know how important it can be for the underserved, uninsured patients of Illinois because this is a population advanced practice nurses frequently see. More and more industries are closing in Southern Illinois forcing families into the large group of people with no health insurance, therefore, impacting the overall health of the citizens of Illinois,” said Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nurses Secretary Julie Adkins, RN. “We hope every citizen can join us in requesting that legislators work with the Governor to develop a way to finance the plan, to make healthcare available to all who need it in Illinois.”
Gov. Blagojevich has received support from nearly 200 healthcare, education, business, religious, government and labor organizations from around the state since kicking off the first day of his Investing in Families Bus Tour Monday in Chicago. This week, the Governor will travel Illinois to promote his Fiscal Year 2008 budget plan, stopping at restaurants, businesses, schools, and rallies in communities throughout Illinois.
“Governor Blagojevich’s plan has truly stepped up to the plate to help small business owners like myself to get access to affordable healthcare,” said David Olshon, Owner of Dave’s Barber Shop. “Health insurance is just not affordable. I really hope this plan goes through, so that for once I wouldn’t have to choose between paying bills to keep my business running or going to the doctor.”
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 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.
"Property values in our region are far below those of the suburbs of Chicago, so the current funding system doesn't serve our schools very well," said Dr. Ronda Baker, Regional Superintendent of Franklin-Williamson County Schools. "The Governor's plan is for the state to meet it's obligation to fund schools, which will allow us to make essential improvements to our educational system such as upgrade our facilities and help ensure that our students stay in school."
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 for 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 by $724 to $6,058.
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 – 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;
o And a Capital Budget to make important investments in schools, roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure.