Wednesday, July 02, 2008
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Republicans chide governor's gas card giveaway

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[July 02, 2008]  SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich's recent push to give free gas cards to Chicago families enrolling in a state health insurance program is raising eyebrows. On June 21, the state provided hundreds of $50 gas cards to families in the Chicago area who signed their children up in the governor's All Kids program, which provides health insurance regardless of a family's income, residency or citizenship status. The governor's goal -- to sign up 1,000 new families for All Kids, with Illinois taxpayers picking up the $50,000 tab.

Among the groups eligible for the free gas cards -- wealthy individuals and illegal immigrants. It's estimated that almost 60,000 children enrolled in All Kids are in the state illegally. Senate Republicans believe it is wrong to encourage more illegal immigrants to enroll in the program at the same time Illinois is currently operating without a budget in place, and faces more than $1 billion in unpaid Medicaid bills and a $2 billion deficit.  

Ironically, the $50,000 gift card giveaway came only weeks after the governor blasted lawmakers for new spending proposals that resulted in an "out of whack" budget.

[Text from Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson's "Capitol Connection"; file received from the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus]



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