Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has a clear vision for Illinois' future. He laid it out for all of us to see as part of his 2007 State Budget. 23 News was the only local station to be in Springfield for Wednesday’s address.
Governor Blagojevich says, "We are here to do good things for hard working people of Illinois. One of the ways we can do that is by passing a budget that is about helping them."
The $45.4 billion budget has Democrats giving standing ovations and Republicans sitting back and shaking their heads. If passed the budget would make Illinois the only state to provide pre-school to every 3 and 4-year-old. New tax credits would promote Rockford's downtown river development, freshmen and sophomores with a "B" average would receive a $1,000 tax credit, there's a plan to eliminate the nursing shortage and invest $100 million in stem cell research.
Blagojevich stated, "We have found a way to balance our budget while staying true to our values and true to our principals."
But is that statement true? 23 News asked area Republicans in Springfield and over and over again the answer was “No.”
Representative Jim Sacia (R), says, “We have to have money to pay for it without borrowing money. That's where we are losing sight of reality."
Senator Dave Syverson (R) states, "Illinois has borrowed more money than any other state. We are racking up a significant debts."
Representative Ron Wait (R) says, "Since he's been in office we've tripled the debt. Basically we put it on the credit card."
Representative Dave Winters (R) tells 23 News, “This government spending is out of control and we're not putting a balanced budget in front of him. He doesn't want to hear that, the less people talk the better in his own mind."
After the speech Blagojevich was a man of few words and so were other Democrats.
State Representative Chuck Jefferson (D) says, "I reserve the right to hold my opinion till I get a chance to see those numbers and how he's going to pay for a lot of these things."
Budget hearings are set to take place over the next couple of weeks. The whole budget process is going to move really fast. It's expected to be passed by the beginning of April."
It’s likely that Democrats will have enough votes to pass this budget by April.