Blagojevich again calling for more spending, higher debt
Gov. Blagojevich is continuing on his reckless course of "borrow
and spend." In his budget address on Wednesday, he once again called
for another year of higher spending, deeper debt and pension raids
to pay for an ambitious agenda that the state just cannot afford
The budget plan includes millions more in funds for programs to
help schoolchildren, veterans and environmental cleanups, but I
question the stability and 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.
The numbers don't lie
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. Medicaid
eligibility has been expanded every year of the Blagojevich
administration, so that one of every seven Illinoisans is now
enrolled in Medicaid.
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.
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Budget plan targets business again
The governor also set his sights to the state's job climate
again, calling for $130 million in new 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.
Senate protects property tax relief for senior citizens
Protecting property tax relief for senior citizens is the aim of
legislation passed recently by the Senate.
Senate Bill 2350 re-enacts the senior citizens assessment freeze
homestead exemption, in response to the Supreme Court's decision in
December 2005 to strike down the 1994 law that first enacted the
The Supreme Court did not specifically rule against the homestead
exemption; rather, the court deemed the 1994 law unconstitutional
because it had too many different legislative provisions and
violated the single-subject requirements set forth by the Illinois
Constitution. This legislation will restore the homestead exemption
to help continue the property tax relief it provides for eligible
senior citizens, especially those with fixed incomes.
To qualify for the assessment freeze, a person must be 65 years
old, have a maximum household income of $45,000 or less, and meet
all residency requirements. People who qualify for the exemption
must apply each year, but the assessed value of the land freezes at
the time a person first becomes qualified for the program.
Senate Bill 2350 has moved to the House of Representatives,
where it awaits further consideration.
Sen. Bill Brady]