Thursday, Feb. 16

Legislators respond to governor's budget proposal

Brady: Blagojevich again calling for more spending, higher debt          Send a link to a friend

[FEB. 16, 2006]  SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich continues on his reckless course of borrow and spend by once again calling for another year of higher spending, deeper debt and pension raids to pay for an ambitious agenda the state just cannot afford right now, according to state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington.

Blagojevich outlined his $45.4 billion budget proposal for fiscal 2007 to a joint session of the General Assembly on Wednesday. Fiscal 2007 runs from July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2007.

Brady says the budget plan includes programs that would help schoolchildren, veterans and environmental cleanups, but he questions the integrity of a budget based on pension raids, record-high state debt, a record-high backlog of unpaid bills and another attack on the state's jobs climate.

"This governor continues his legacy of ‘borrow and spend.'" Brady said. "This is yet another bloated budget paid with a credit card. He has resorted to his old tricks -- ‘promise them anything and give them deeper debt.' Our state would be better served with fiscal discipline and prioritized spending."

The state's current budget, for fiscal 2006, was balanced by raiding $1.2 billion from pension funding, and the fiscal 2007 budget will siphon off an additional $1.1 billion.

In the last three years, Blagojevich has borrowed more money than any other governor in the past 20 years, with no plan for repayment. He has increased spending by $2 billion over the last three years, and this year's budget will increase by an additional $1.4 billion.

Fiscal 2006 will end with $1.8 billion in unpaid bills, while Medicaid eligibility has been expanded every year of the Blagojevich administration. One of every seven Illinoisans is now enrolled in Medicaid.

The governor also sets his sights to the state's job climate again, calling for $130 million in news taxes on Illinois employers and threatening thousands of jobs. In his first year, Blagojevich raised 300 taxes and fees, sending jobs across the state line. Illinois is 45th in the nation in job growth since Blagojevich took office, and Illinois' median household income has fallen $6,000 in recent years.

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Brady says the state expects about $900 million in new revenue growth this year, but it is not necessary to spend it all on new programs and program expansions. He thinks it is time to truly get Illinois' fiscal house in order by paying bills in a more timely fashion, putting an end to borrowing and beginning to repay the mounting debt.

The governor's spending proposals include:

  • $100 million more for Chicago schools.
  • $45 million to expand preschool programs.
  • $90 million to offer families $1,000 annual tax credits for the cost of college.
  • $10 million to expand health coverage for veterans.
  • $20 million for economic development grants in river towns.
  • $10 million for reducing class sizes in kindergarten through third grade.
  • $7.5 million to offer a $500 sales tax rebate to buyers of fuel-efficient cars.
  • $3 million to expand the number of nurses in Illinois.
  • $2.3 million to improve the state's ability to test DNA evidence.
  • $1.6 million for quicker handling of applications for professional licenses.

In addition, the governor will be asking lawmakers to borrow $3 billion to build schools, roads and mass transit infrastructure.

Brady says the governor's spending blueprint is the first step in the budget negotiation process, and he looks forward to working with his fellow lawmakers to craft a fiscal plan that reflects the spending priorities of 44th District citizens.

[News release from Sen. Bill Brady, 44th District]

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