Despite fiscal crisis, governor increases spending again
For the second year in a row, Gov. Rod
Blagojevich has introduced a budget proposal that increases general
spending by more than $1 billion, despite his claims that Illinois
faces a multibillion-dollar deficit.
And unfortunately, the governor's
budget plan also once again targets business.
Blagojevich outlined his budget
proposal for fiscal 2005 to a joint session of the General Assembly
on Feb. 18. Fiscal 2005 runs from July 1, 2004, through June 30,
As lawmakers, we must set priorities
and make sure the state's basic needs are met -- education, roads,
nursing homes. We must also take care not to increase financial
pressures on the businesses that provide the jobs and pay the taxes
that fund so many state programs. Our solution must focus on job
Apparently the governor does not agree.
Blagojevich's budget plan will eliminate an additional $321 million
in tax incentives for businesses -- an approach he took last year
that has wreaked havoc on the economy. An independent statewide
survey shows that 16,000 jobs and more than $120 million in Illinois
business investment have been lost as a result of the business fee
and tax hikes implemented as part of the governor's current state
My Senate Republican colleagues and I
are working for business, jobs and economic development. We are
watching carefully for legislation or policies that may be
detrimental to business and doing what we can to quash those efforts
or lessen their impact on jobs and the business climate in Illinois.
Republicans object to separate capital budget address
For the first time ever, the budget
plan presented Feb. 18 by Gov. Rod Blagojevich reflects only the
operating portion of the state budget. The capital spending portion
of the budget and the governor's plan for borrowing in the next
fiscal year will not be revealed until late March.
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Last week, Senate Republicans objected
to Blagojevich's move to extend the deadline for presenting his
budget on state-funded construction projects. Legislation (Senate
Bill 1913) extending the current deadline from the third
Wednesday in February to the fourth Tuesday in March was approved
Feb. 10 -- without our support -- and signed into law Feb. 11.
Delaying the proposed capital projects
budget will give the process a political taint by allowing the
governor to make decisions on capital projects pending in
legislators' districts based on the votes they have cast during the
spring legislative session. Because the capital projects budgeting
process would be done behind closed doors, no one would see how the
allocation of capital funds was politicized.
Spaulding rest stop "no man's land"
status must end
State Rep. Bill Mitchell and I have
joined together to end the "no man's land" status of a rest stop in
the village of Spaulding.
The Illinois Department of
Transportation has essentially abandoned this 4.1-acre tract of
land, and the village of Spaulding would like to have it. That
doesn't sound like much of a problem, but we've had trouble getting
IDOT to move on the project.
Current law allows IDOT to sell
property to another government entity, such as a village, for a
nominal fee of $1, but the public entity must use the land for a
public purpose. In this case, Spaulding officials want to use the
abandoned rest stop to build a new village hall. I can't think of a
more public purpose.
Rep. Mitchell has filed
House Bill 3849, which would require IDOT to convey the property
to the village of Spaulding for $1. I will sponsor the bill in the
need or want the land and Spaulding does. It's really that simple.
There's no reason why IDOT shouldn't convey the land.
Sen. Bill Brady]