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April 15, 2000

Ryan Commends Legislators For Advancing Education, Human Services, VentureTECH, Tax Relief and Public Safety


SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today praised the General Assembly for approving a $48 billion state budget that includes a record commitment to education and human services, $350 million in tax relief for Illinois families, the creation of the VentureTECH initiative, passage of a new Safe Neighborhoods Act and the establishment of a "rainy day" fund for state government.

"We have had a successful spring session, and credit goes to the members of the General Assembly who worked very hard to meet the needs of the people of Illinois and to prepare this state for the future," Ryan said.

"We’ve allocated a record amount of money for schools and workforce training, boosted funding to protect our human infrastructure, provided significant tax relief for families, set up the VentureTECH program to help our economy and passed a new Safe Neighborhoods Act to crack down hard on the illegal possession of firearms and set up the first-ever "rainy day fund."

Ryan once again fulfilled his promise to allocate at least 51 percent of all new state revenues to education and workforce training. The FY 2001 budget guarantees that $462 million, or 52 percent of the state’s new revenues, will be used for education and workforce training.

The FY 2001 budget also helps seniors, homeowners and low-income families with $350 million in new tax relief. The 2001 tax relief plan will increase the number of seniors eligible for the state’s circuit breaker program, allow for a one-time property tax rebate later this year and create an earned income tax credit to help the working poor.

More than $276 million in new state resources will meet Ryan’s goal to improve and bolster the state’s "human infrastructure" of services. The new funding will mean an increase in the scope and depth of services to benefit the poor and disabled, abused children, seniors, the mentally disabled, families needing quality child care, the homeless, and children without health insurance.

The governor’s five-year, $1.9 billion VentureTECH initiative, approved intact by lawmakers, will make Illinois a leader in the growing, high-tech "New Economy" of the 21st Century. VentureTECH will provide the resources to advance technology education and training, research and product development in biotechnology, high-energy physics, information technology, manufacturing, medicine and food science.

Ryan fulfilled another promise by securing the reenactment of the state’s "Safe Neighborhoods Act" with a provision that makes the illegal possession of a firearm a felony crime. The re-tooled Safe Neighborhoods Act continues to carry tough provisions to crack down on gunrunners and criminals who threaten peace officers.

As a hedge against an unexpected downtourn in the economy, the governor secured the creation of a $225 million "rainy day fund." This new account, combined with the budget’s predicted surplus, will mean an end-of-year budget balance in FY 2001 of $1.3 billion.

Highlights of the 2000 spring legislative session include:


The 2001 budget earmarks a record $8.39 billion for education and workforce training, an overall increase of $462 million or 52 percent of new state revenues.

Elementary and Secondary Education – A $5.9 billion overall budget, including a $327 million increase. This secures $34 million increase in general state aid, which increases the per pupil "foundation" spending level to $4,425.

Higher Education -- A $2.5 billion overall budget, including an increase of $133 million. The budget includes an increase of $23 million to improve the scope and breadth of the state’s scholarship and student aid programs.

Safe to Learn -- $14 million to continue Attorney General Jim Ryan’s school-based safety and violence prevention grant program to preserve school safety.

Early Childhood Education and Summer Bridge Student Programs -- $10 million for early childhood programs, summer bridge education initiatives and reading programs.

New Teachers -- $56 million to fund the second year of initiative to hire 10,000 teachers over four years to reduce class sizes.

Teacher Training -- $1.5 million in funding for a professional development pilot program for teachers, with the hope to fund several more sites next year.

Job Training -- $24.2 million for the Industrial Training program, which helps companies with specialized training for workers; $2 million to create the School-To-Work Transition program, allowing youth to enter the workforce in areas where there is a demand for their skills.


The $350 million tax relief package approved by lawmakers this spring is the latest in a multi-year tax relief effort that has generated nearly $1 billion in savings for Illinois taxpayers.

Property Tax Rebate -- $280 million for a one-time rebate equal to 5 percent of a residential homeowner’s 1999 property tax bill. The rebate check will not exceed $300. The average rebate will be $125 and around 2.2 million residential property owners will benefit.

Earned Income Tax Credit – Three-year plan that allows an estimated 270,000 low-income families to keep more of their earned wages, rather than paying taxes. The credit for eligible families is equal to 5 percent of the federal government’s earned income tax credit. The program will cost $35 million a year for a total tax savings of $105 million over three years for federal tax credit. The average credit will be $55.

Circuit Breaker Expansion – A three-year, phased-in permanent increase in the eligibility levels for the circuit breaker program will save taxpayers $35 million in each of the next three years. Income eligibility levels will increase from $16,000 to $28,480 for a 2-person household and to $20,875 for a single-person household. The pharmaceutical cap is increased from $800 to $2,000 annually and will include new coverage for drugs affecting Alzheimer’s Disease, glaucoma, Parkinson’s Disease, cancer and the treatment of respiratory diseases.

Existing Tax Relief – The full phase-in of the personal exemption on the state income tax to $2,000, a savings of $325 million; full-phase in of the "single sales factor" on the state corporate income tax, a savings of $100 million; and the income tax credit for school costs, a savings of $75 million.

    • Illinois VentureTECH

The General Assembly fully funded the five-year $1.9 billion strategy for investing state resources in research and development.

Education, Research & Development – A $340 million investment in the Illinois Century Network; $54 million for an advanced optical network that will allow state universities and laboratories to work with industry on the Internet; and $192 million for classroom technology enhancements for kindergarten through high school.

Venture Capital Funding – The governor, with the full cooperation of state retirement systems, will direct close to $800 million over five years in designated venture capital investment funds to high-tech start-up firms and other Illinois companies seeking financing.

Technology Infrastructure -- At the University of Illinois, $93 million for a new medical school in Chicago; $80 million for a new post-genomics biotechnology institute, a new $31 million building for the National Center for Super Computing Applications, a new $71 million chemical sciences building, a new $19 million microelectronics laboratory, an $8 million computer in engineering laboratory, a $53 million pharmacy science building and an $11 million MRI facility in Chicago; $30 million for a biomedical research facility at Northwestern University.

Rural Telemedicine -- $8 million over the next five years for health systems in underserved areas run by Southern Illinois University.

Government improvements -- $400 million over the next five years for technology management improvements within state government.


State Agency Services -- A 2.5 percent rate increase for the state’s human services providers at a state cost of $65 million. Nursing homes will realize an increase in support of $24 million, hospitals and tertiary care facilities will receive $17.5 million and the Academic Excellence in Medicine program will receive $5 million.

Child Care – An $118 million increase in child care support – about $200 million over the last two years. This new funding will serve a total of 218,000 children.

Tobacco Settlement Health-Related Funding -- $85 million in tobacco settlement funds will be used for medical and technical research and smoking prevention efforts. This total includes $10 million for elementary and high school smoking prevention programs, $10 million for local health department anti-smoking prevention programs, $5 million for state operated youth prevention programs, as well as $4.1 million for various other smoking prevention efforts.

Medicaid for the Aged, Blind and Disabled – A commitment of $59 million to begin expanding Medicaid services for the aged, blind and disabled to 100 percent of federal poverty level. This move will free-up existing funds in the state circuit breaker program to allow the coverage of additional prescription drugs and to increase funding for the purchase of prescription drugs for low-income seniors by $265 million over five years.


Safe Neighborhoods Act – The new law makes the illegal possession of a firearm a felony crime. Other provisions of the new Safe Neighborhoods Act include: Gang members convicted of intimidation or harassing jurors or witnesses get 10 years in prison – not five. Judges can sentence gangbangers to extended terms for any felony crimes. Sets penalties for gunrunning for illegally selling three or more weapons and raises penalty for selling guns on school property. A person charged with stalking or domestic battery who is out on bail must surrender all firearms in their possession. The penalties are raised for the attempted murder or aggravated battery of a police officer, prison guard, fire fighter or paramedic. Drunk drivers violating a restricted drivers permit or a judicial drivers permit must spend a minimum of seven days in jail or perform 30 hours of community service. Convicted drunk drivers caught for DUI while their license is suspended or revoked must spend a minimum of 30 days in jail or perform 720 hours of community service. Drunk drivers who commit a second DUI within five years of their first offense must spend two days in jail or perform 10 hours of community service. The sentence for aggravated DUI is raised from four years to 12 years.

Death Penalty Moratorium and Review -- Ryan announced a moratorium on executions until a special commission can complete a review of the administration of the death penalty system. The governor established a commission and appointed members in March.

Capital Litigation Trust Fund -- $17.7 million to provide enhanced services for legal teams involved in the prosecution and defense of capital crimes. Last year’s allocation was $8.7 million.

DNA Testing -- $4.3 million to improve the Illinois State Police Forensics Laboratory in Springfield and to maintain DNS testing capabilities statewide.


Rainy Day Fund -- $225 million will be set aside for first-time state rainy-day fund for use at the discretion of the governor and General Assembly in the event of an unseen economic downturn that threatens state services.


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