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Senate President Jones, concerned lawmakers and advocacy groups join governor in opposing no-growth budget

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[MAY 24, 2004]  CHICAGO -- At a press conference today at LaRabida Children's Hospital, one of Chicago's largest health care facilities serving low-income children and their families, Gov. Rod  Blagojevich outlined the devastation Illinois families and communities would suffer under an alternative budget proposal quietly being pushed in Springfield during the final week of the legislative session. Under the “no growth” budget, every region of the state would experience significant cuts in health care, education and economic development, including $400 million taken away from local schools and 150,000 men, women and children losing their health care.

“There is a new proposal lurking in Springfield that hasn't received much attention, but if enacted, would cause great harm to hundreds of thousands of people across our state. It's the so-called no-growth budget. The proposal protects special interests and their lobbyists, by avoiding the hard decisions necessary to continue to reform state government,” Blagojevich said.

The “no growth” plan would allow for no new state spending in fiscal 2005. That means the state would be unable to invest more in education, health care and public safety programs and would also have to make deep cuts to existing programs in order to meet the growing cost of Medicaid and pension obligations.

The governor was joined by state Senate President Emil Jones and several lawmakers who oppose the alternative budget proposal, as well as more than a dozen representatives from education, child care and labor organizations who understand how painful deep cuts would be to Illinois' most vulnerable citizens.

“A zero-growth budget would hurt funding for education, the elderly and health care. Balancing the budget on the backs of people is not what we want to do,” said Jones.

The governor outlined exactly how damaging a no-growth budget would be for the people of Illinois.

  • 150,000 men, women and children would be kicked off Medicaid and left with no health coverage.

  • 20,000 children who are supposed to receive health care this year would have to go without.

  • 56,000 low-income working parents who are supposed to receive health care this year under the Family Care program wouldn't get that care.

  • Senior citizens would lose $100 million in prescription drug coverage.

  • $400 million in funding would be taken away from our schools across the state, leaving no money for an increase in state aid.

  • No funding would be available to help pay for new school buildings or repairs to old schools.

  • 8,000 at-risk children would be denied the opportunity to attend preschool.

  • Up to 7,000 children would not be eligible for child care.

  • 5,000 women would lose access to breast and cervical cancer screenings.

  • $32.4 million in funding for the developmentally and mentally disabled would be cut.

  • Funding to clear the DNA backlog to help solve rape and murder cases would be cut.

  • None of the 100 new state police officers or 102 new parole officers could be hired.

  • Hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds that the state currently stands to get for health care and child care would be jeopardized.

Communities all over Illinois would feel a tremendous effect:

  • Chicago Public Schools would stand to lose $105.5 million in new funding from a $250 per-pupil increase in the general state aid formula, and all Cook County schools together would lose $161.5 million.

  • 81,431 seniors, children and low-income parents in Chicago and Cook County would lose their current Medicaid health coverage.

  • In DuPage County, it would mean losing more than $3.6 million for local schools, and more than 4,000 people would lose their health care.

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  • In St. Clair County, it would mean losing nearly $10 million for local schools, and almost 4,000 people would lose their health care.

  • In Rock Island County, it would mean losing almost $3 million for local schools, and nearly 2,000 people would lose their health care.

  • In Williamson County, it would mean losing nearly $1 million for local schools, and nearly 1,000 people would lose their health care.

  • In Winnebago County, it would mean losing nearly $15 million for local schools, and almost 4,000 people would lose their health care.

  • In Adams County, it would mean losing nearly $1.5 million for local schools, and nearly 1,000 people would lose their health care.

  • In Macon County, it would mean losing nearly $2.5 million for local schools, and more than 1,500 people would lose their health care.

  • In Peoria County, it would mean losing nearly $5 million for local schools, and nearly 3,000 people would lose their health care.

  • In Champaign County, it would mean losing nearly $5 million for local schools, and nearly 2,000 people would lose their health care.

In February, Gov. Blagojevich unveiled a balanced budget proposal that closed corporate tax loopholes, consolidated and streamlined state government, and closed outdated prison facilities in order to pay for major investments in education, health care and public safety.

“We can balance our budget, while still protecting the values and priorities of the people of Illinois. Now, doing that does require hard choices from the legislature. It does require saying 'no' to the lobbyists and special interests. That's not always easy. It takes courage to stand up to the special interests, and the men and women standing here with me today have shown that courage, time and time again. And as Senate President Emil Jones and his fellow Senate Democrats showed us last week, standing up to the special interests is far, far better than saying 'no' to our children, 'no' to people who need health care, 'no' to the families of victims of crime, 'no' to the future of our state,” said Blagojevich, referring to the Senate's approval last week of his proposal to close corporate tax loopholes. “I know that Speaker Madigan and the House Democrats feel the same way, and I'm hopeful that many of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle do too.”

“As we head back to Springfield to vote on the budget, we face a choice. We can choose a budget that helps the people at the expense of some special interests. Or we can choose a budget that helps the special interests at the expense of the people. I'm for a budget that doesn't raise the income tax or the sales tax -- a budget that invests more money in health care, more money in education, more in public safety. I'm for a budget that pays for it by closing unfair corporate loopholes, closing prisons we don't need and streamlining state government. I'm for a budget that will not be balanced on the backs of the working people of this state. I'm for a budget that won't be balanced on the backs of children who need our help, seniors who need our help, schools who need our help -- in short a budget that changes the priorities of our state, a budget that doesn't give up on people, even as we dig ourselves out of this fiscal mess,” Blagojevich said.

[News release from the governor's office]

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