State Of State

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Governor Rod Blagojevich (bluh-GOY'-uh-vitch) today plans to ask lawmakers to increase education spending by nearly one-fourth next year.

That's just one of many big proposals stuffed into the State of the State address the governor will deliver this afternoon.

Aides say Blagojevich will seek a one-and-a-half (B) billion dollar boost in state school funds, which now stand at six-and-a-half (B) billion dollars.

The Chicago Democrat also is expected to propose making health insurance available for all Illinoisans, imposing a new tax on business transactions and leasing the state lottery to a private contractor.

The speech will combine the State of the State and the budget addresses that are usually delivered separately. It could be the most ambitious of Blagojevich's four years in office.