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From Sen. Bill Brady

[March 10, 2007]  DATELINE


Citizens from across Illinois were turned away March 7 when they asked to meet with the Governor about skyrocketing utility rates.

People who traveled from central, western, and southeastern Illinois to participate in the "Bring Your Power Bill to the Governor" Day were turned away by a security official who stated that the Governor was only available to meet with those who had appointments.

Initially, the group met with Senator John O. Jones of Mt. Vernon, Senator Dale Risinger of Peoria and me outside the Governor's office in the Capitol. We had stacks of power bills from all over the state and hoped to hand them over to the Governor personally and ask him to take the lead on this issue.

This is the most important issue affecting us today and the Governor's lack of leadership is pathetic. He should call a special session to bring about the solution.

Citizens can send copies of their bills, with personal information obscured, to Office of the Governor, 207 State House, Springfield, IL 62701 (fax: 217-524-4049).


Questions have been raised about whether the University of Illinois' Board of Trustees violated the Open Meetings Act when they made their decision to retire Chief Illiniwek. I have asked the Office of the Attorney General to investigate.

I am also sponsoring legislation, which is being added to Senate Bill 1276, that will allow Illinois voters to once again elect the Board of Trustees, instead of having the Trustees appointed by the Governor.

The Board of Trustees announced Feb. 16 that Chief Illiniwek's last appearance after 81 years as the university's symbol was Feb. 21, during the last men's home basketball game. Since that time, the media have reported that some of the Trustees disagreed with the manner in which the decision was reached.


As he begins his second term, Governor Rod Blagojevich continues on the same fiscally dangerous course, balancing a fifth year of higher spending, deeper debt and pension gimmickry squarely on the backs of Illinois businesses, the citizens they employ and the consumers who buy their goods or use their services.

Blagojevich outlined his $49.1 billion budget proposal for Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 to a joint session of the General Assembly on March 7. Fiscal Year 2008 runs from July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2008.

The Governor's plan includes programs with laudable goals -- universal healthcare and more money for schools -- but the costs are staggering and place an even greater strain on a state budget relying on record-high state debt, a record-high backlog of unpaid bills and continued attacks on the state's jobs climate.

Not included in the Blagojevich plan are measures that would provide property tax relief or utility rate relief for Illinois citizens and businesses. This is the biggest tax increase in the state's history and there's not a dime to give homeowners, senior citizens, and small businesses relief from high property taxes.

Blagojevich wants to implement a $2.1 billion universal healthcare program and increase education funding by $1.5 billion -- to be paid by a $6 billion gross receipts tax on businesses and a healthcare payroll tax that will eventually cost business more than $1.1 billion per year. He wants to shore up the state's pension system -- which he has systematically raided for years -- with a $10 billion lottery lease and $16 billion sale of pension bonds.

Our Governor is one for high drama. Well, here's a drama he should consider -- a tale of two economic realities. He claims it is the best of times, but with this budget, it will be the worst of times in Illinois.


There were several facts that the Governor did not mention in his budget address:

  • The Blagojevich budget proposal includes the largest spending increase in the history of the state -- $3.1 billion.

  • The Blagojevich plan includes the largest tax increase in Illinois history -- $6 billion gross receipts tax on business. That is bigger than the previous six largest tax increases in Illinois history combined.

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  • The Governor's budget would include the largest borrowing in the history of the state
    -- $16 billion.

  • The Governor is asking for $32 billion in new dollars ($6 billion tax hike, $10 billion lottery sale and $16 billion borrowing).

  • In one year, Rod Blagojevich will increase spending nearly as much as during his entire first term.

  • Rod Blagojevich doubled state debt in his first term; now he will quadruple it. General Obligation debt will be four times what it was when he took office, going from $9 billion to $36 billion.


Illinois employers, and the jobs they provide, have long been the target of Blagojevich and his budgeteers.

In his first year, Blagojevich raised 300 taxes and fees, sending jobs out of Illinois and into other states. Illinois's job growth rate of 1.9 percent is the 8th worst in the nation since Blagojevich took office, and lags behind neighboring states of Missouri (2.6 percent), Indiana (2.8 percent), Kentucky (3.5 percent), Wisconsin (3.7 percent) and Iowa (5.4 percent).

Strong economic and job growth would be a better solution to Illinois' budget woes that record tax increases. If Illinois ranked 8th best in job creation, instead of 8th worst, Illinois would have 500,000 more jobs today. Based on the estimate that each job generates $4,000 in tax revenue, those jobs would be generating $2 billion in additional state tax revenues this year.

Since January, I have been going to communities in each of the seven central Illinois counties I represent to talk with their citizens about the real "state of our state." Medicaid, healthcare and pensions are taking more and more of our tax dollars -- one business group has estimated $106 billion in unfunded commitments or a debt of $8,800 for every man, woman and child in Illinois. Citizens must understand the serious economic challenges we face.


Sen. Bill Brady's next "state of the state" will be a lunch meeting at noon March 16 at the Maple Club, 1458 State Route 121, in Lincoln, co-hosted by the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce and the Logan County Farm Bureau.

Reservations are needed and can be made by contacting either the Farm Bureau at 217/732-7326 or the Chamber of Commerce at 217/735-2385. The cost of the lunch is $15 per person and can be paid at the door.

The 44th District Senator has already met with citizens in Tazewell County on Jan. 19, McLean County on Feb. 21, DeWitt County on Feb. 22, Christian County on March 1, and Macon County on March 2. A meeting in Sangamon County will be announced when details are finalized.


We have extended the deadline for applying for General Assembly scholarships by two weeks. Students who will be attending state universities in Illinois may now submit applications to my office through March 30.

Students whose permanent addresses lie within the 44th District are eligible. Eight one-year tuition waivers -- for fall 2007, spring 2008 and summer 2008 -- are available to students who will be attending state universities, with one specifically designated for a nursing student and one for the child of a veteran.

A panel of community and education leaders will evaluate applications and select scholarship recipients. I will not be involved in the decision-making process.

Students are encouraged to write to my office to request an application at 2203 Eastland Drive, Suite 3, Bloomington, IL 61704 (309/664-4440). All requests should include the student's home and school address (if applicable) and phone numbers.

General Assembly Scholarships are presented by all Illinois lawmakers to college students across the state. Selection is based upon merit of the applicants.


Starting this year, daylight time begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. On the second Sunday in March, clocks are set ahead one hour at 2:00 a.m. local standard time, which becomes 3:00 a.m. local daylight time.

[Text copied from file received from Sen. Bill Brady]

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