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April 27, 2003

In five city tour, Blagojevich urges legislature to pass the budget

New poll: 84 percent strongly support Governor’s budget

New analysis shows other states opt to raise taxes, cut spending in education, health care and public safety, while Blagojevich’s budget increases investments in education, health care and public safety without raising the income or sales tax

Blagojevich releases open letter to Illinoisans

SPRINGFIELD, ILL. – Taking his budget message to citizens around the state, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a recent poll found Illinois voters overwhelmingly supported his budget proposal, which solves the state’s worst ever financial crisis without raising the state’s income or sales taxes and increases spending on education, health care and public safety.

“The people of this state voted for change – change in the way business is conducted in Springfield and change in the way we approach and solve our state’s problems,” Blagojevich said at stops in Chicago, Decatur, Moline, Peoria and Rockford. “My budget offers that change by shaking up a system in desperate need of reform and declaring the old business as usual approach is no longer welcome. If we do this right – and I firmly believe we will – we do more than just balance a budget, we regain the trust and confidence of the people of this state.”

In a poll of Illinois voters commissioned by the Blagojevich administration, 84 percent had a favorable reaction to the budget and 88 percent agree with the statement: “if some state legislators are going to raise concerns about Gov. Blagojevich’s budget plan, they also need to do more than criticize and should offer their own detailed budget plan to solve the state’s fiscal problems – including what specific programs they would cut and what taxes they would increase.”

Support for the governor’s budget plan came from all political groups – 93 percent among Democrats, 86 percent among independents and 73 percent among Republicans.

With a budget that reflects voter priorities, the governor urged Illinoisans to contact their legislators and ask them to vote for the budget.

Blagojevich released an open letter to the people of Illinois, writing:

“Like Illinois, many states face large budget deficits. Many of those states have resorted to the traditional methods of solving fiscal crises: raising taxes or slashing spending in areas that matter most like education, health care and public safety. I refuse to submit to those tired, old solutions. That’s not the kind of forward thinking the people of this state deserve.

“Asking the taxpayers to bear the burden of years of mismanagement and waste is simply unfair. Risking the future of our children, the health of our seniors and working families, or the safety of our communities through deep cuts to schools or prescription drug coverage or police is equally unfair. That’s why I presented a budget to the legislature that solves our fiscal crisis without raising the income or sales tax while investing more in education, healthcare and public safety.

“Instead, our budget cuts over $1.3 billion in waste and inefficiency, closes corporate tax loopholes, requires wealthy casinos to pay their fair share, and takes advantage of low interest rates by refinancing the state’s pension bonds, much in the same way many of you have refinanced your homes. In other words, through hard work and by thinking out of the box, we were able to solve our fiscal crisis in a way that does not jeopardize our economic well-being or our quality of life.

“My budget reflects your priorities and respects your hard-earned paychecks. But presenting a balanced budget is only half the battle, and that’s where you come in. My budget now sits before the legislature. If you want to say no to higher taxes and government waste, and if you want to say yes to better schools, to affordable prescription drugs, to safer streets and to an ethical, responsible state government, please urge your local state representative and state senator to support this budget.”

The governor said many states like Illinois face large budget shortfalls, but those other states have chosen more traditional approaches – raising taxes or slashing spending in areas that matter most, such as education, health care and public safety – to balance their budgets.

For example, New York’s budget would cut kindergarten through 12th grade spending by $1.2 billion, health care by $1.2 billion and higher education by nearly $600 million. In California, the budget would trim K-12 education funding by $1 billion, health care by $1.1 billion and higher education by $850 million, while increasing the sales and income taxes. In Washington State, the budget would cut K-12 education by $433 million and health care by $328 million. In Ohio, a 5 percent sales tax has been proposed on services ranging from dry cleaning to cable television. In Missouri, a voter referendum has been slated on whether to impose an income tax surcharge.

“As far as I’m concerned, raising taxes and slashing spending in education, health care and public safety should not be options,” Blagojevich said. “Those are the old ways of doing business and I refuse to submit to those tired, old ways of solving our problems.”

The governor reiterated a pledge he made during his budget address earlier this month that if a budget reached his desk that raised the income or sales tax, or cuts spending for schools, health care or public safety, it would be vetoed.

While the nearly $5 billion budget deficit appeared to be insurmountable to some without a general tax hike, Blagojevich rolled up sleeves after his inauguration and went to work with his budget team and economic advisors to solve the problem.

The governor noted his budget plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 delivers on key campaign promises to raise funding levels for education, public safety and health care, while cutting $1.3 billion in waste and inefficiencies in state government, closing corporate tax loopholes, modernizing non-consumer fee structures, requiring wealthy casinos to pay their fair share and asking special interest funds to share in the sacrifice. In addition, state agencies have been instructed to do more with less and the number of state employees has been reduced by 6,000 to the lowest level since 1991.

Part of the governor’s solution to solving the budget deficit was to take advantage of low interest rates that will save $1.9 billion through a pension bond financing plan that passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate.

The governor’s poll found 84 percent of the respondents favored the casino tax plan, 72 percent supported eliminating corporate tax loopholes, 65 percent were for increasing regulatory and licensing fees and 68 percent supported the special fund surcharges.

The governor’s $52.4 billion budget calls for overall state spending to decline $345 million from the current fiscal year – the first time since 1981 that state expenditures have declined.

The Governor's Open Letter
Statewide Survey Memo
Comparing the Blagojevich Budget to Other States
Summary of Executive Budget Proposals Submitted in Midwestern States Facing Deficits

Video Archived Governor's News Conference Archived Governor's News Conference Video 56kArchived Governor's News Conference Video 135kArchived 
  Governor's News Conference Video 300k
Audio Archived Governor's News Conference Archived Governor's News Conference


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