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April 5, 2007

Governor Blagojevich's "Investing in Families" bus tour stops in Champaign; visits with families and physicians at Christie Clinic to explain benefits of his historic Illinois Covered plan
Governor spends week traveling Illinois to promote Illinois Covered, Helping Kids Learn, Tax Fairness

CHAMPAIGN – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today met with families, physicians, and healthcare officials at Christie Clinic in Champaign to discuss his historic Illinois Covered plan, which will provide access to affordable healthcare to the 1.4 million uninsured adults in Illinois.  In addition to Illinois Covered, the Governor’s proposed budget includes 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. Today’s stop in Champaign was part of the Governor’s Investing in Families Bus Tour, a four-day tour across Illinois to promote his budget plan. 
“Right now, 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.  “Christie Clinic has been a strong partner in expanding access to healthcare to working families, and I applaud them for their commitment to the Champaign community.  Now is the time to build on those successes, and work together to make healthcare a reality for every uninsured family in the state.” 
Last month, officials at Christie Clinic announced a new expansion to take 3,500 more All Kids and FamilyCare clients in addition to the clients they already serve.  The expansion comes in anticipation of the rollout of the landmark Illinois Health Connect program, which guarantees a medical home for every child enrolled in the Governor’s All Kids program and every parent in FamilyCare.  Through Illinois Health Connect, every child in All Kids and every parent in FamilyCare will have a primary care doctor who will make sure they are getting regular check-ups and preventive care.   The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) unveiled Illinois Health Connect in Cook and the Collar Counties in March, and will begin rolling out the program in the northwest region of the state and then in the central and southern regions of Illinois in the coming months.    
Gov. Blagojevich’s FY08 budget proposal will continue the progress the state has made in expanding access to healthcare, and includes 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. 
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 for each student by $724 to $6,058. 
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 – and property tax relief for homeowners across the state;
·        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 Capital Budget to make important investments in schools, roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure.


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