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    Hot Topics > FY06 State Budget



    Related Information


    Letter to the Editor: We need thriftiness, not a tax sinkhole
    8/10/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    Every year for nearly two decades, political liberals in Illinois have cried out for a higher and more progressive personal income tax to finance a bigger state budget. Each year they dangle property tax relief as the carrot to appeal to taxpayers smarting over the latest round of property assessments. Thankfully, each year elected officials in Springfield have rejected their call.
    Read more...

    Web site looks at Illinois budget practices
    7/26/2005 -

    Quincy Herald Whig
    Sen. Dan Rutherford, R-Pontiac, thinks the best way to end bad government practices is to expose them.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: Bad old habits
    7/18/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    Aaron Chambers July 9 column ("Dems' budget hitches ride with economy") is a troubling reminder of why Illinois has been stuck in an economic quagmire.
    Read more...

    Legislature balanced budget without new taxes
    7/3/2005 -
    Kankakee Daily Journal
    This year we were faced with the nearly-impossible task of balancing the state's budget, despite dwindling federal support, without increasing the state's income or sales taxes.
    Read more...

    Don't blame the Republicans for the state raid on pensions
    7/1/2005 -
    Kankakee Daily Journal
    In this years' budget, the Democrats who control both the House and the Senate, along with the Governor's office, chose to pass a $54.5 billion budget without Republican input. This budget was based upon an egregious pension raid diverting $3.5 billion over five years, which will cost the taxpayers $38.5 billion to repay.
    Read more...

    Opinions vary of pension reform plan: Success or failure depends upon the source, who they blame
    6/24/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    DECATUR - Whether the effects of the state's pension reforms will be good or bad depends on whom you ask.
    Read more...

    Move to balance budget may cost Ill. residents $7B
    6/22/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    A Register Star analysis suggests that cutting public pension payments will cost $539.58 a person over 40 years.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Blagojevich has formalized the back-room deal
    6/22/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his staff made more than 60 back-room deals and agreed to spend $21 million in state funds in order to get the 2006 budget approved.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: Don't balance budget on children's backs
    6/21/2005
    Three years ago, a family came to the Chicago Children's Advocacy Center. They were in crisis. The discovery that their 11-year-old child was pregnant as a result of chronic sexual abuse had spun the family into chaos. They received critical care and services through the center's family and court advocacy and mental health programs.
    Read more...

    Social service groups pleased with budget, concerned about long-term
    6/21/2005 -
    Associated Press
    SPRINGFIELD — While most state agencies suffer through another bleak budget year, officials spared many services for the poor and disabled that are often the first target for cost-cutting.
    Read more...

    State grants lack details on spending
    6/20/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    SPRINGFIELD -- Shirland school chief David Martin isn't holding his breath for Gov. Rod Blagojevich to release cash to replace his school's boiler.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: State budget `victory' is a defeat for taxpayers
    6/15/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich is touting his new budget as a victory for Democrat interests. The Chicago Coalition of Blagojevich, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Emil Jones did bring a lot of money home in this budget.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Stop griping; we need ideas from lawmakers
    6/14/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    The recently passed Illinois state budget stinks, and Gov. Rod Blagojevich is mismanaging the state so badly that it would take a miracle for the next governor to make things right.

    That's the message state Sens. Brad Burzynski and Dave Syverson and state Rep. Dave Winters delivered in an hour-plus meeting with the Editorial Board last week.
    Read more...

    Hundreds of millions of waste in state budget, group says
    6/13/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    Illinois needs to do more to curb wasteful spending in state government based on dozens of questionable expenses in the state's recently approved 2005-06 budget, a new report concludes.

    The Illinois Policy Institute, an independent policy group in Springfield, claims that the state's $54.4 billion spending plan that takes effect July 1 contains hundreds of millions of dollars in waste -- from $13.8 million in grants to corporations to $150,000 being set aside to support the state's wine industry.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: Lawmakers miss another opportunity
    6/13/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    This session, legislators missed a historic opportunity to pass major school funding reform in Illinois --one that would have brought benefits to homeowners and a more significant source of state funding for education.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Topinka's budget bombshell must be resolved quickly
    6/13/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    Just when Springfield lawmakers thought they'd passed a budget and were able to go home for the summer, Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka threw a grenade into their midst.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: State workers are hurt by budget
    6/12/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    The media reports that Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his cronies "balanced" the state budget by redirecting $2.2 billion from state worker pension funds.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: State budget is blueprint for fiscal disaster
    6/12/2005 -

    The Star
    J. K. Rowling introduced the world to dementors in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," book three of the popular series. Dementors are frightening fictional characters with the power to suck the life out of anyone they choose to pursue.
    Read more...

    State aid drops off for some schools
    6/12/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    Enrollment and tax changes cause changes in funding
    Read more...

    Gov. signs budget with little fanfare
    6/11/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    SPRINGFIELD — Stung by Republican criticism that he traded votes for pork projects and saddled future generations with debt, Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed into law the state’s $54.4 billion spending plan Friday afternoon with little fanfare.
    Read more...

    Questions await legislators in budget forums
    6/11/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    It's a time to ask questions about state budget matters, such as spending and taxation.
    Read more...

    State funding includes no money for school construction grants
    6/9/2005 -

    The Star
    Will County officials say money needed in growing area
    Read more...

    Editorial: Budget in fiscal disasters for Blagojevich's destructive promises
    6/8/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has done something just as bad as breaking a promise. He has kept one.

    He should never have made it. Equally culpable was his 2002 gubernatorial opponent, Republican Jim Ryan. Both knew the ship was sinking as they battled for the helm; however, they pledged, over and over again, not to raise general taxes.
    Read more...

    Taxpayers likely face big burden
    6/7/2005 -

    Northwest Herald
    State Rep. Jack Franks was the only Democrat to vote against the state's budget.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Budgeting our financial ruin
    6/6/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    As Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich takes his victory lap for helping to craft a state budget that could only be balanced by making off with $2.2 billion in state pension funds, one can ask: Why is this man smiling?
    Read more...

    Editorial: Another late-night budget deal gets lawmakers' nod
    6/6/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    THE ISSUE: Democratic-controlled Legislature approves state budget at the expense of state pension plan. WE SAY: Rank-and-file lawmakers failed to provide scrutiny in the budget process and let legislative leaders call the shots.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Here's what we think about what lawmakers did
    6/6/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    The best thing about the state's $54 billion spending plan? It's done.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Blagojevich's budget mortgages the future
    6/6/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    The state budget approved by the General Assembly this week, and on its way to being signed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, includes a few significant accomplishments.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Blago won, now guess who lost
    6/6/2005 -

    Joliet Herald News
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/heraldnews/opinions/j06insider.htm
    Read more...

    Editorial: Governor's office pleased with budget achievements
    6/5/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    Education funding reform, state employee pensions, medical malpractice and Medicaid garnered most of our attention as the governor and Legislature pulled together another annual budget.
    Read more...

    Governor wins in budget session
    6/5/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    SPRINGFIELD -- Dogged by an ugly family feud and allegations that state business was being steered to his campaign contributors, it was just weeks ago that Gov. Rod Blagojevich seemed mired in one of the worst slumps of his tenure as chief executive.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Governor's office pleased with budget achievements
    6/5/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph

    Read more...

    Pork greased the way to state budget accord
    6/5/2005
    While GOP squeals, Democrat leaders deal
    Read more...

    Editorial: State budget deal merits few cheers
    6/5/2005 -

    The Star
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich was upbeat after Tuesday's approval of a $54 billion state budget, passed exclusively by Democratic lawmakers.
    Read more...

    Session's many deals, shortcuts leave uncertainty on big issues
    6/5/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    SPRINGFIELD — Illinois government has a new budget that might be worth $54 billion and might be balanced. No one seems to know for sure.
    Read more...

    How you fared in the state's spring decisions
    6/5/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    SPRINGFIELD — On his way out of the Capitol on the final night of the state spring session last week, Senate President Emil Jones lamented lawmakers’ inability to fund schools better.
    Read more...

    State budget: Area Democrats like it, Republicans don't
    6/4/2005 -
    Waukegan News Sun
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/newssun/top/w04pork.htm
    Read more...

    Dems' pension deal: Eat now, pay up later
    6/4/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    Tom Cross, the House Republican leader, wanted to talk about barbecue.
    Read more...

    Editorial: State budget always entertaining
    6/3/2005 -

    Edwardsville Intelligencer
    It would be fitting if the Illinois state budget was done under the guidance of Ringling Brothers/Barnum and Bailey.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Pensions robbed again to cover state spending spree
    6/3/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    Once again, Gov. Blagojevich and the Democrat-controlled Legislature have used pension funds to "balance" the state's $53 billion budget.

    All should be ashamed. But they won't be held accountable because it won't immediately affect anyone. And they can go into next year's elections proclaiming, "We didn't increase your income or sales taxes."
    Read more...

    Governor touts budget's bucks for education
    6/3/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    Rod Blagojevich blasts Republicans for not supporting capital spending.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Budget built on shaky financing
    6/2/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    If a state budget is supposed to be a bridge to a brighter financial future, the one passed in Springfield might be crossed only at real peril.
    Read more...

    New budget infuriates local legislators
    6/2/2005 -

    Northwest Herald
    Local legislators on Wednesday criticized the new state budget, which tries to eliminate a $1.2 billion deficit and pay for $330 million more in education by shorting state pension systems.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Legislature hands out cash, ignores lion in closet
    6/2/2005 -

    Peoria Journal Star
    For those who would ignore the lion in the closet, it was a fairly decent legislative session just ended in Springfield.
    Read more...

    Budget no surprise to educators
    6/2/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    Officials: Schools get about as much money as expected
    Read more...

    Voice of the Southern: Budget battle 'could have been worse'
    6/2/2005 -

    Southern Illinoisan
    Perhaps, the Illinois Legislature should be congratulated for getting a budget out this year without an overtime session.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: New state budget is outrageous
    6/2/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    Illinoisans ought to be outraged over the fiscal year 2006 budget deal.
    Read more...

    Budget will affect average Illinoisans
    6/2/2005 -
    Associated Press
    Smokers, video gamers, home buyers and teenagers could soon feel the fallout
    Read more...

    School building program may bring lawmakers back
    6/2/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    SPRINGFIELD -- Unfinished business could mean a change in vacation plans for Illinois lawmakers.
    Read more...

    Gov is looking up after budget deal
    6/2/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    SPRINGFIELD -- Last month, Gov. Blagojevich was down in the polls, under siege for contracting scandals and reeling from dozens of grand jury subpoenas delivered to his inner circle.
    Read more...

    Budget passed joylessly: Pension fund 'raid,' preference of Chicago projects bemoaned
    6/2/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    SPRINGFIELD - Local lawmakers had little good to say about the estimated $54.4 billion state budget that emerged from the General Assembly on Tuesday. Most blasted it as being bad for taxpayers and downstate Illinois.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Illinois living on borrowed money
    6/2/2005 -

    Belleville News Democrat
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Democratic lawmakers are congratulating themselves for passing a balanced budget for the new fiscal year, which begins July 1.

    But they should be embarrassed for balancing it on the backs of our children and grandchildren. Instead of spending within the state's means, they "borrowed" $2.3 billion from the state's pension funds.
    Read more...

    State budget saves District 204 jobs
    6/2/2005 -

    Naperville Sun
    Edward hopes to turn Medicaid disbursements in its favor
    Read more...

    State budget has pros, cons for schools
    6/2/2005 -
    Elgin Courier News
    A little more cash: At least one area school district had braced for possibility of new cuts
    Read more...

    Budget helps casinos, but not all schools
    6/2/2005 -

    Sun Publications
    Some districts will see big increases; others will get almost nothing extra
    Read more...

    Editorial: ILLINOIS BUDGET: Debt, debt, debt
    6/2/2005 -

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    FACED WITH THE CHOICE of bullet-biting fiscal rectitude and going wild with the state's credit card, the governor and legislature of Illinois this week chose . . .
    Read more...

    Blagojevich leaps back in driver's seat
    6/2/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    Legislative success may give 2006 lift
    Read more...

    Dist. 204 could see more state money
    6/2/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    The new state budget agreement could bring an extra $4 million to cash-strapped Indian Prairie Unit District 204, Superintendent Howard Crouse said Wednesday.
    Read more...

    State lawmakers pass budget
    6/1/2005 -
    Champaign News-Gazette
    SPRINGFIELD – Without Republican support, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly on Tuesday approved a budget that diverts $1.2 billion from the pension funds for university workers, state employees, teachers, judges and lawmakers in order to boost spending for education, expand health care for the working poor and pay for millions worth of Chicago-area special projects.
    Read more...

    Controversial budget passed
    6/1/2005 -
    Kankakee Daily Journal
    SPRINGFIELD -- Lawmakers endorsed Gov. Rod Blagojevich's budget proposal Tuesday that takes money promised for teacher and state worker pensions to pay for a host of the ordinary costs of government -- like paying prison guards and mowing state parks.
    Read more...

    Press Release: Early Learning Illinois Praises Governor and Legislature for Putting Working Families and Young Children First During Difficult Budget Year
    6/1/2005 -
    Action for Children
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich continues to keep his promises to working families and young children with a budget for Fiscal Year 2006 that prioritizes their needs in spite of Illinois' continuing economic struggles.
    Read more...

    2006 Illinois Budget: Chicago Hits the Jackpot
    6/1/2005 -
    State Senator Chris Lauzen
    Late last evening the 94th General Assembly passed the State's fiscal 2006 budget of $54 billion to $58 billion (the numbers vary depending on who you talk to) amid forceful discussion, last minute questioning and eventually, disappointment in learning the "winners" and "losers". I thought you might be interested in reading my comments in floor debate:
    Read more...

    Legislature OKs cut in casino tax rate
    6/1/2005 -

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Illinois legislators agreed Tuesday to reduce Illinois' highest-in-the-nation casino tax rate, a move designed to keep profits afloat for riverboats in East St. Louis, Alton and around the state.
    Read more...

    Budget boosts Illinois River, roads
    6/1/2005 -

    Peoria Journal Star
    State proposes money for river project, millions more for Peoria-area roads
    Read more...

    State budget passes; schools get boost
    6/1/2005 -

    Southern Illinoisan
    SPRINGFIELD - Most local lawmakers applauded the estimated $54.4 billion state budget that emerged Tuesday, arguing that things could have been worse.
    Read more...

    New graduation standards OK'd
    6/1/2005 -

    State Journal Register
    But $50.1 million plan is unfunded
    Read more...

    Budget passed joylessly: Pension fund 'raid,' preference of Chicago projects bemoaned
    6/1/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    SPRINGFIELD - Local lawmakers had little good to say about the estimated $54.4 billion state budget that emerged from the General Assembly on Tuesday. Most blasted it as being bad for taxpayers and downstate Illinois.
    Read more...

    State budget deal reached; measure moves to governor
    6/1/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    SPRINGFIELD - Local lawmakers had little good to say about the estimated $54.4 billion state budget that emerged from the General Assembly on Tuesday. Most blasted it as being bad for taxpayers and downstate Illinois.
    Read more...

    Budget plan could leave us all far behind
    6/1/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    Turns out I was wrong.
    Read more...

    Borrowing from the future
    6/1/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    Julie Hamos and Kevin Joyce are not what you would call natural political allies.
    Read more...

    Democrats approve budget, avoiding GOP involvement
    6/1/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    SPRINGFIELD -- Democrats on Tuesday approved a state budget that manages to expand spending on education and health by putting off pension debt and sweeping cash from a variety of special cash reserves.
    Read more...

    Suburbs question state budget
    6/1/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    Lawmakers say education neglected yet again
    Read more...

    Budget passed on time
    6/1/2005 -

    State Journal Register
    Democrats alone push spending measure through
    Read more...

    With options ruled out, lawmakers settle on unpleasant budget
    6/1/2005 -
    Associated Press
    In the end, lawmakers saw no alternative but to back Gov. Rod Blagojevich's patchwork budget that dips into pension money, raids special funds and depends on more federal money.
    Read more...

    Lawmakers OK state budget
    6/1/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    Governor expected to sign it
    Read more...

    Dems get their budget passed
    6/1/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    SPRINGFIELD -- Overcoming dissension within their ranks, Democrats passed a $54 billion-plus state budget Tuesday that bailed out the Chicago Transit Authority, provided more cash for schools and triggered Republican anger over a generous serving of pork for the city.
    Read more...

    Budget buzzer beater
    6/1/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    State Democrats push plan through; GOP complains it is full of pork for Chicago
    Read more...

    To be continued: Lawmakers left work to do
    6/1/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    SPRINGFIELD — State lawmakers late Tuesday finished a spring session that resembled last year’s Chicago Bears game plan: punt and play defense.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: Sun-Times buries news
    6/1/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    The Chicago Sun-Times has done a disservice to [reporters] Dave McKinney and Ben Fischer regarding their May 30 news story, ''Lawmakers OK skipping pension fund payments to balance budget.''
    Read more...

    New state budget aids schools but skimps on pensions
    6/1/2005 -
    Associated Press
    Education spending would grow by about $313 million, or 5.4 percent. That would be enough to increase the "foundation level" of funding guaranteed for each student by $200 to $5,164...
    Read more...

    New state budget aids schools but skimps on pensions
    6/1/2005 -
    Associated Press
    Education spending would grow by about $313 million, or 5.4 percent. That would be enough to increase the "foundation level" of funding guaranteed for each student by $200 to $5,164, still far short of the $6,400 experts recommend.
    Read more...

    'Pension holiday' becomes a hot topic
    5/31/2005 -
    Kankakee Daily Journal
    Top Democrats discussing idea to cut budget shortfall
    Read more...

    Panel OKs pension plan
    5/31/2005 -

    State Journal Register
    GOP leaders vow to stand against shifting funds
    Read more...

    Topinka rips budget deal
    5/31/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    SPRINGFIELD -- Threatening to upend a pending state budget deal among Democrats, Republican state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka on Monday asked the attorney general to determine whether a plan backed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to divert $2 billion from state pensions was unconstitutional.
    Read more...

    Topinka tries to block gov's plan
    5/31/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    SPRINGFIELD -- Republican Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka asked Attorney General Lisa Madigan Monday to quash a $2.3 billion draw-down of public pension funds to balance the state's upcoming budget.
    Read more...

    Editorial: State tax hike plan asks little of schools in return
    5/31/2005 -

    Peoria Journal Star
    With a reported state budget agreement, two bills that would have sent a lot more money to Illinois schools are now moot. They'll be back again. And we'll say the same thing then that we have before: Don't propose a huge income tax increase that, even for as laudable a cause as education, provides too little property tax relief and asks nothing in return from school boards, administrators and teachers.
    Read more...

    Pension holiday measure advances
    5/31/2005 -

    Champaign News Gazette
    This article was originally published on May 30, 2005

    SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois General Assembly narrowly approved legislation on Sunday to pay $2.3 billion less into the state pension systems over the next two years than would be required under current law.
    Read more...

    Pension cuts headed for House vote
    5/31/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    SPRINGFIELD -- Over bitter Republican opposition, Democrats pushed forward Friday with a plan to balance the $53 billion budget by slashing payments to the state's pension funds.
    Read more...

    Declining polls push Blago into pension flip-flop
    5/31/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    This article was originally published on May 29, 2005

    If you're wondering why Gov. Rod Blagojevich would flip-flop on his solemn vow to reform the state's massively underfunded pension systems, don't look much further than the most recent poll.
    Read more...

    Budget talks stall
    5/31/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    SPRINGFIELD -- With a Tuesday deadline looming, Illinois lawmakers left the State Capitol on Saturday with no budget in place. The cornerstone of a budget deal announced last week -- a plan to cut state contributions to the state's five pension plans -- has become an apparent sticking point for a handful of Democrats who are needed to overcome stiff Republican opposition.
    Read more...

    Governor: Liquidate student loans
    5/31/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants to liquidate Illinois' portfolio of student loans in a last-ditch bid to raise up to $500 million for the state's cash-hungry budget.
    Read more...

    Budget deal livens things up in capital
    5/31/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    This article was originally published on May 29, 2005

    Springfield is the only place on Earth that moves forward and backward at the same time.

    There were negotiations, draft bills and whispers about various gambling proposals. More slots? Slots at tracks? Then casino talk seemed to fall apart.
    Read more...

    Pension plan leaps hurdle
    5/31/2005 -

    Lincoln Courier
    SPRINGFIELD — A Democratic plan to take hundreds of millions of dollars from state pension systems to pay for state programs cleared its first hurdle Friday, even as House Republicans charged the plan will cost the state far more than has been acknowledged.
    Read more...

    Democrats drive budget bill home
    5/31/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    This article was originally published on May 30, 2005

    SPRINGFIELD -- Democratic lawmakers rolled over angry Republicans and paved the way for a new budget Sunday, sending Gov. Rod Blagojevich a multibillion dollar plan to help fund state government by diverting money earmarked for state pensions.
    Read more...

    Pension perk to fall by wayside
    5/31/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    Lawmakers to sharply reduce superintendent bonus
    Read more...

    Dems quiet about governor's promises
    5/31/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    Democratic leaders refused to release details Monday of private deals that Gov. Rod Blagojevich has struck with lawmakers in an attempt to piece together a new state budget.
    Read more...

    Governor finds it’s tougher to govern
    5/31/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    Blagojevich, supporters defend progress as criticism mounts from both sides
    Read more...

    Editorial: Youngsters win in budget deal
    5/31/2005 -

    State Journal Register
    ARGUMENTS WILL continue to rage on as to whether the Democratic legislators and Gov. Rod Blagojevich accomplished future good through reforms to the state's pension systems or whether these changes dangerously mortgaged the future to pay today's bills.
    Read more...

    State politicians argue over budget
    5/31/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    Late-night session focuses on bringing in more money and cutting out expenses
    Read more...

    School funding
    5/31/2005 -

    Rich Miller's http://capitolfax.blogspot.com
    Here's the latest document I have about how school funding will be divvied up next fiscal year...
    Read more...

    Selling state's student loan debt is part of plan to fill the state's budget deficit
    5/31/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    SPRINGFIELD - The governor's budget experts unveiled plans Monday night to sell the state's student loan debt to help fill the state's deficit.
    Read more...

    If women ran budget talks ...
    5/30/2005
    Some legislators say men aren't as naturally inclined toward compromise.
    Read more...

    Lawmakers OK pension overhaul
    5/30/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    SPRINGFIELD -- Democrats rammed a key piece of the state budget through the House and Senate late Sunday that will reduce payments to state pension funds to fill a lingering budget gap.
    Read more...

    Lawmakers OK skipping pension fund payments to balance budget
    5/30/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    SPRINGFIELD -- A Democratic bid to withhold nearly $2 billion in required payments to employee pension systems to balance the 2006 state budget swept through the Legislature on Sunday, despite Republican comparisons of the deal to a payday loan.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Skipping pension payment no way to balance budget
    5/29/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    Illinois Democrats think they have the answer to closing the state's $1.2 billion budget hole: Skip paying into the worst pension system in the nation this year and skip a payment next year.
    Read more...

    Pension 'holiday' advances in state legislature
    5/28/2005 -
    Champaign News-Gazette
    SPRINGFIELD – An Illinois House committee on Friday advanced legislation to skip $1.1 billion in payments to the state pension systems in each of the next two budget years and enact a scaled-back version of the governor's benefit reform proposal.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Budget agreement a bad deal for state
    5/28/2005 -

    Peoria Journal Star
    On Feb. 18, Gov. Rod Blagojevich told editors of this newspaper that pension reform "absolutely has to happen." There were no other options. He noted that his daughter would be his age in 2045, when actuaries predict the state's $90 billion pension liability will have grown to $530 billion without changes. "Am I gonna leave her with that?" he asked. State pensions, he said, were "a catastrophe waiting to happen."
    Read more...

    State budget plan includes CTA aid
    5/28/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A $53 billion state budget plan proposed by Democratic leaders would help Chicago's cash-strapped public transportation system dramatically cut its costs by shifting the services it provides for disabled riders to another agency, officials say.
    Read more...

    GOP lashes out at pension 'looting'
    5/28/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    SPRINGFIELD — Republicans pounced Friday on the tentative budget deal struck by Democrats, blaming party leaders and warning the plan would "loot" the state's pension system.
    Read more...

    State budget deal gets hung up
    5/28/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    SPRINGFIELD -- The budget deal crafted by Gov. Blagojevich and top Democrats spun its wheels Friday in the House, where a handful of party holdouts objected to shaking dollars from Illinois' public pension systems to keep state government afloat.
    Read more...

    Pension reform becomes center of Democrats' drive to beat budget deadline
    5/27/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    SPRINGFIELD - Democrats went into overdrive Thursday to put together a budget proposal that will not require Republican support
    Read more...

    Democrats agree on budget
    5/27/2005 -

    State Journal Register
    Republicans assail raid on pension funds
    Read more...

    Democrats show unity as budget deadline nears
    5/27/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    SPRINGFIELD -- Seeking to avoid a repeat of last year's record 54-day overtime legislative session, Democrats are showing rare signs of unity in an effort to approve a state budget.
    Read more...

    Democrats consider 'pension holiday'
    5/27/2005 -
    Associated Press
    SPRINGFIELD (AP) - Democratic leaders were considering a plan Thursday to close the state budget gap by skipping the government's annual payment to pension systems for teachers, university employees and state workers.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Money won't solve pension problems
    5/27/2005 -

    Lincoln Courier
    Everyone admits there is a problem with Illinois' public employee pension systems.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: Top cops decry unwise budget cuts
    5/27/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    The most streetwise cop and the most respected researchers will tell you the same thing: Quality early education, after-school programs and child abuse prevention programs are the best ways to prevent crime in the long run.

    Why, then, are these proven programs the first on the chopping block when budgets are tight?

    Law enforcement leaders are concerned the Legislature may choose a penny-wise-and-pound-foolish strategy to reach a budget. Not funding these programs will have a devastating effect on our communities.
    Read more...

    Accord on state budget
    5/27/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    Democrat leaders dip into pension funds to help schools, halt CTA service cuts
    Read more...

    Deal-makers
    5/27/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    Dems propose 'pension holiday'
    Read more...

    Republicans blast new pension plan
    5/27/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    SPRINGFIELD — As much as $1.1 billion in pension debt could be passed onto future generations after the Democrats who control state government were unable to agree on any other way to fix lingering budget problems.
    Read more...

    State leaders size up expanded gaming as route to more revenue
    5/26/2005 -

    Naperville Sun
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/sunpub/60504/news/fv0526gambl.htm
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: No end in sight for Legislature
    5/26/2005 -
    Aurora Beacon News
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/opinions/letters/a26pritchrd.htm
    Read more...

    Budget talks focus on gambling
    5/25/2005 -

    State Journal Register
    Slots at horse racing tracks met with GOP dissent
    Read more...

    Casino gambling's slow crawl ashore
    5/25/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    SPRINGFIELD — Having first brought riverboat gambling to Illinois with the rationale of boosting tourism in struggling river towns, lawmakers could be on the verge of forever changing the face of gambling here.
    Read more...

    Unions push their pension ideas
    5/24/2005 -

    State Journal Register
    Expand gambling, raise cigarette tax, they say
    Read more...

    State leaders size up expanded gaming as route to more revenue
    5/24/2005 -

    Naperville Sun
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/sunpub/naper/news/n0524budget.htm
    Read more...

    Blagojevich, lawmakers work on budget
    5/23/2005 -

    Copley News Service
    With time running out for lawmakers to avoid a second overtime session in as many years, Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the four legislative leaders huddled in a rare Sunday meeting looking for solutions to the state's budget woes.
    Read more...

    Assembly faces plenty of unfinished business
    5/23/2005 -
    Associated Press
    Illinois lawmakers had better get busy or they'll end the legislative session with little to brag about when they go home to face the public.
    Read more...

    Are governor, legislators ‘getting close’ on slots?
    5/23/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    SPRINGFIELD — A formal plan to put slots at Arlington Park could emerge today, the president of the Illinois Senate told reporters late Sunday.
    Read more...

    Unions push alternative for pension funding
    5/22/2005 -

    Champaign News Gazette
    Unions representing state employees and public school teachers are urging lawmakers to reject the governor's proposed pension reforms and pay the state's debt to the five retirement systems with a combination of cigarette taxes, gambling taxes and bond sales.
    Read more...

    Gov's budget fixes on high court's docket
    5/21/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pledge not to raise the personal income tax may be the greatest pledge he has not broken or indicated a willingness to break.
    Read more...

    Budget at top of to-do list under 'Desperate' pressure
    5/21/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    When leaders of the General Assembly return Sunday to continue their budget talks, at least one leader is hoping for a quick resolution.
    Read more...

    Legislative leaders make some progress
    5/20/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    SPRINGFIELD -- A year ago at this time, Illinois lawmakers were stuck in gridlock over the state budget. A May 31 deadline came and went, triggering a record 54-day overtime session.
    Read more...

    State leaders continue to talk about budget as session adjournment looms
    5/19/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    SPRINGFIELD - With the legislative session adjournment less than two weeks away, the state's top politicians have yet to reach a solid fiscal 2006 budget agreement.
    Read more...

    Plan would let racetracks install slot machines
    5/19/2005 -
    Champaign News-Gazette
    SPRINGFIELD -- The state's nine riverboat casinos and five horse racetracks would gain the right to buy 20,000 new slot machines under a deal floated Wednesday by Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago) to inject a projected $580 million into state coffers.
    Read more...

    Editorial: There's no excuse for last-minute budget
    5/18/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review

    Read more...

    Two weeks to go - and no budget
    5/17/2005 -

    State Journal Register
    Governor, legislative leaders to meet today
    Read more...

    Blagojevich ready to 'wield sword'
    5/17/2005 -

    Copley News Service
    Governor claims GOP stalling to gain leverage
    Read more...

    State has $1 billion budget problem
    5/17/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    Overtime session may be needed once again
    Read more...

    Another week passes without budget in sight
    5/14/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    House GOP Leader Tom Cross says the Legislature should wrap up its work by the end of May, when it is supposed to.
    Read more...

    Budget grows by nearly $168 million
    5/12/2005 -
    Associated Press
    SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate approved nearly $168 million in new spending Wednesday to cover budget shortfalls in state prisons, social services and other areas.
    Read more...

    Repeat overtime state budget session distinct possibility
    5/11/2005 -

    Naperville Sun
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/sunpub/naper/news/n0511budget.htm
    Read more...

    Poe blames Blagojevich for budget stalemate
    5/10/2005 -

    Quincy Herald Whig
    A heart catheterization Monday didn't stop state Rep. Raymond Poe from keeping an appointment to speak to Adams County Republicans this morning, or from criticizing Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich for what Poe called a failure in leadership.
    Read more...

    Illinois budget mess keeps leaders at odds
    5/9/2005 -
    Associated Press
    Illinois officials will have to do a lot more than shave some spending here and nudge up revenue there if they want to balance the state budget.

    Closing a gap of at least $1.2 billion involves fundamental questions about the best course for Illinois, especially when most of the obvious budget tricks have been used already over three years of fighting deficits.

    Should the state plunge deeper into legalized gambling to generate cash?
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: Kosel urges cooperation in Springfield
    5/8/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    The Democrat-led General Assembly and the governor's inability to come to agreement on a budget by the adjournment deadline last year cost Illinois taxpayers more than $360,000. I do not want to see such waste again this session.
    Read more...

    No single solution for budget deficit
    5/8/2005 -
    Associated Press
    SPRINGFIELD — Illinois officials will have to do a lot more than shave some spending here and nudge up revenue there if they want to balance the state budget.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Governor's bottom line keeps shifting
    5/7/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    To balance a budget that is $1.2 billion in the red, Gov. Rod Blagojevich said, "It's time to really get focused."
    Read more...

    Leaders take positions for budget battle
    5/7/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    He stood like a general prepared to lead his troops into war. And as House Speaker Michael Madigan renewed what he called "the coalition of the willing," it became clear that Illinois is poised to be the scene of painful summertime posturing over the state's budget. Again.
    Read more...

    Lawmakers look at overtime again
    5/6/2005 -

    Lincoln Courier
    With just three weeks left in the spring legislative session and budget talks going nowhere fast, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan vowed Tuesday to keep alive an alliance with Republicans that last year helped push the General Assembly into a record overtime session.

    Speaking to the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, Madigan said he, House Republican Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego and Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson, R-Greenville, are a "Coalition of the Willing" that will hold the line on spending and not rely on borrowing to balance the state budget.
    Read more...

    Democrats may split on budget
    5/4/2005 -
    Associated Press
    SPRINGFIELD -- The state's leading Democrats are showing signs of the same deep divisions that kept lawmakers in Springfield an extra 54 days last year while they fought over the budget. House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Emil Jones, both Chicago Democrats, took strikingly different stands on the budget in speeches before business leaders Tuesday.
    Read more...

    Top Democrats shows signs of split again over budget
    5/4/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    The state's leading Democrats are showing signs of the same deep divisions that kept lawmakers in Springfield an extra 54 days last year while they fought over the budget.
    Read more...

    Lawmakers skeptical of Blagojevich’s budget practices after audit
    5/3/2005 -

    Alton Telegraph
    The state auditor’s harsh rebuke of Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s top administrative agency may damage his relationship with lawmakers at the very time he wants their cooperation on vital budget issues.
    Read more...

    Critics take cautious approach to governor's reform plan
    5/3/2005 -

    Peoria Journal Star
    Educators say Blagojevich is balancing budget on their backs

    PEORIA - Gov. Rod Blagojevich has a plan for reforming teacher pensions that he says will save millions - millions the state can begin spending to balance next year's budget.

    That idea, says the head of the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System, sounds more like it came from the mouth of a teenager.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: Legislature's Republicans call for responsibility
    5/2/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    Last year, taxpayers lost $360,000 because the legislature was forced into a record overtime session by a Chicago-dominated General Assembly and governor's office that couldn't agree on a budget by the scheduled deadline.
    Read more...

    Civic Federation backs Blagojevich plan to trim pensions
    5/2/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    An influential government watchdog group says it supports Gov. Rod Blagojevich's plan to trim pension benefits for future state workers but isn't certain of the cost savings.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: Addressing critical issues
    4/29/2005 -

    Joliet Herald News
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/heraldnews/opinions/letters/j29letters.htm
    Read more...

    Editorial: Only one solution to state's budget problem
    4/29/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    ILLINOIS LAWMAKERS are attempting to solve another billion-dollar budget gap by finding new revenue, including floating the idea of being able to purchase lottery tickets over the Internet.

    If only they'd put that sort of energy into solving the real problem of Illinois government: it's too big and too costly.
    Read more...

    State debates hike in pension payouts
    4/28/2005 -

    Quincy Herald Whig
    Adams County Sheriff Brent Fischer is hoping the General Assembly passes legislation that would boost pension payments for retired sheriff's law enforcement employees, but some County Board members want to see the bill defeated.
    Read more...

    Editorial: We don't need a quick fix
    4/28/2005 -

    Edwardsville Intelligencer
    The following editorial ran on April 27, 2005

    Is there a change in store for our license plates? Will they one day read, "Illinois, Land of the High Rollers?"

    Don't bet against it.

    It appears as though the only proposals that get talked about much in Springfield involve gambling.
    Read more...

    Corrections bureau's budget story changes
    4/28/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    $18 million in emergency funds needed because of a miscalculation or a costly union contract?
    Read more...

    Pumping up the lottery
    4/27/2005 -

    Lincoln Courier
    Lawmakers hope Web sales would fill state coffers
    Read more...

    Leading Republican says budget battle ahead
    4/26/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    BLOOMINGTON -- The state House Republican leader forecast renewed battles over how to plug holes in the state budget during this spring's legislative session.
    Read more...

    Exploiting a loophole?
    4/24/2005 -

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    In his February budget speech, Gov. Rod Blagojevich asserted that Illinois school districts are essentially fleecing the state's pension system - giving big, brief raises to outgoing teachers so the state is forced to pay them inflated retirement benefits for the rest of their lives.
    Read more...

    Editorial: No matter what is cut, everyone bleeds
    4/20/2005 -

    Joliet Herald News
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/heraldnews/opinions/j20edit.htm
    Read more...

    State revenue is strong, but spending also is up
    4/14/2005 -
    Associated Press
    State revenues are coming in stronger than predicted nearly everywhere, but costs are zooming ahead of forecasts in more than half the states, leaving legislators in an awkward spot – pleased with the latest finances but worried about the future.
    Read more...

    Summit held on budget
    4/5/2005 -

    Joliet Herald News
    General Assembly: Officials discuss new funding solutions
    Read more...

    Educators wary about slots paying for extra courses
    4/3/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    With about 160 students at his central Illinois high school, Supt. Brent McArdle said a state proposal to raise high school graduation requirements could cause big problems at the little school.
    Read more...

    Blagojevich considering using education fund surpluses to increase spending in the classrooms
    3/29/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Rod Blagojevich is considering using education fund surpluses to increase spending in the classroom.
    Read more...

    Local officials worry state budget woes will deepen their problems
    3/29/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    EFFINGHAM - Local government and education officials want to make the message loud and clear this week to state lawmakers: fix the budget now or local government entities cannot survive.
    Read more...

    Anna Veterans Home to be skimmed for education budget
    3/23/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants to take money away from the Anna Veterans Home and put it into the classroom, a move critics say is wrong.
    Read more...

    The budget crunch affects many
    3/20/2005 -
    Aurora Beacon News
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/opinions/a20lindner.htm
    Read more...

    Pension proposal criticized
    3/15/2005 -

    Champaign News Gazette
    Public teachers, university employees and state workers who are yet to be hired would end up with significantly less inflation protection than current employees enjoy when they retire, if Gov. Rod Blagojevich gets the pension reforms he is seeking.
    Read more...

    Topinka won't let governor tap state's cookie jar
    3/10/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    In a move that could aggravate Illinois' budget crunch, Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka said Wednesday she will no longer let Gov. Rod Blagojevich pay day-to-day state expenses with money earmarked for environmental cleanup, open-space acquisition and other special purposes.
    Read more...

    Gov's school plan hits special funds
    3/9/2005 -
    Associated Press
    Proposal pries money for everything from crime to conservation
    Read more...

    Editorial: Governor's education 'pooling' requires care
    3/9/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    One of the more questionable aspects of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed budget is the pooling of several state funds to finance an increase in education spending.
    Read more...

    Governor lists state funds he wants to tap
    3/9/2005 -

    Copley News Service
    To increase state spending on education next year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich plans to raid funds set aside to build parks, prevent fires, discipline doctors, buy computers for schools and hundreds of other purposes.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: Retirement benefits cost taxpayers dearly
    3/9/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    After reading about the unbelievable things going on with teachers and administrators' retirements, which is in my opinion costing the taxpayers dearly, we need to have more denials of referendum requests!
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: Unfair pension setup is in need of reform
    3/9/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    I am writing in response to John Patterson's article concerning an issue Gov. Rod Blagojevich has raised and is planning to take action on.
    Read more...

    Forum focuses on state budget
    3/8/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    BLOOMINGTON -- A range of public officials and individual residents turned out Monday for a forum intended to put a human face on the state budget as area lawmakers listened.
    Read more...

    State budget: Pain all around
    3/8/2005 -
    Aurora Beacon News
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/top/a08budget.htm
    Read more...

    Editorial: Statewide budget meetings get 'A' for effort, but likely won't accomplish much
    3/4/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    The effort that is going into a series of statewide budget hearings, sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan, is noteworthy.
    Read more...

    Republican lawmakers share perspectives
    3/3/2005 -
    Suburban Life Newspapers
    Education, transportation and working with the governor will keep lawmakers busy this spring, said Illinois Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson, R-51st District, of Greenville as he and fellow GOP state senators met in Oak Brook Feb. 25 to talk about their concerns.
    Read more...

    Governor on menu when GOP senators gather
    3/3/2005 -

    Pioneer Press
    Republican senators representing the northwest suburbs blasted the governor's handling of the state's economy and his leadership.
    Read more...

    Urbana will host budget summit
    3/1/2005 -

    Champaign News Gazette
    SPRINGFIELD – The next in a series of nearly 30 regional budget summits will be held Saturday in Urbana, giving East Central Illinois residents an opportunity to offer direct input into the making of the state's next spending plan.
    Read more...

    Peoria, Bloomington and Macomb to host budget meetings
    3/1/2005 -

    Peoria Journal Star
    Peoria, Bloomington and Macomb will host regional hearings on state finances and the budget.
    Read more...

    Anti-smoking camp: Boost cigarette tax
    3/1/2005 -

    Joliet Herald News
    Proposed increase: Blagojevich says plan would generate cash for school, roads
    Read more...

    Blagojevich budget creates confusion over proposal to veterans
    3/1/2005 -

    Alton Telegraph
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich said in his State of the State address that he would increase field staff at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs by 50 percent, but his budget proposal shows no increase in the number of employees.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Curtail end-of-career salary boosts
    2/28/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    In Sunday's Daily Herald, Palatine Township Elementary District 15 school board member Lou Sands deflects blame for the golden parachute that board awarded its former superintendent two years ago. In a way, he's right. And he makes an excellent case for why the system should be changed as Gov. Rod Blagojevich suggested in his budget address earlier this month.
    Read more...

    Citizens sound off on state budget woes during bipartisan hearing at Richland
    2/28/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    DECATUR - Pleas for more state help in funding education, highway construction and an array of human services clashed with those to hire more state workers and cut fees that hurt businesses.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Budget solutions must move past the rhetoric
    2/27/2005 -
    Aurora Beacon News
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/opinions/a27bob.htm
    Read more...

    Gov’s proposed increase in education spending ‘paltry’
    2/25/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    SPRINGFIELD — By most accounts, $140 million is a ton of money. When it comes to paying for public schools, and sorting out the competing interests grabbing for a piece of the pie, the money may not go as far you think.
    Read more...

    Editorial: School salary boost for pensions needs retiring
    2/25/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    The outcome of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pension reform efforts remain to be seen.
    Read more...

    Blagojevich sticks by plan on pensions
    2/25/2005 -

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    Democratic lawmakers say bill can't pass without changes
    Read more...

    State budget opinions span spectrum
    2/25/2005 -

    Sun Publications
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/search/default.asp
    Read more...

    Boone districts hope for piece of school construction funds
    2/25/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    SPRINGFIELD -- In the eyes of North Boone School Board President Denise Balsley, a proposed school construction program would be a lifeline for her fast-growing district.
    Read more...

    Pension proposal criticized
    2/24/2005 -
    Champaign News-Gazette
    A part of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pension reform plan involving end-of-career raises for teachers and school administrators would essentially cancel out his proposed increase in state funding for public schools, according to some estimates.
    Read more...

    Governor's education funding plans criticized during committee testimony
    2/24/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    SPRINGFIELD - A state House committee criticized Gov. Rod Blagojevich's $140 million fund sweep for education Wednesday.
    Read more...

    Proposed pension reform could have local school districts picking up more costs
    2/24/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    SPRINGFIELD - School districts statewide may have to pick up $149 million in extra pension costs under Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed reforms.
    Read more...

    LAWMAKERS QUESTION STATE FUNDING PLAN FOR EDUCATION
    2/24/2005 -

    Southern Illinoisan
    A House committee criticized Gov. Rod Blagojevich's $140 million fund-sweep for education on Wednesday.
    Read more...

    Union against pension proposal
    2/24/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich's bid to alter state pension funds has put him at odds with some of his top campaign donors.
    Read more...

    Pension changes not set in stone, official says
    2/24/2005 -

    Copley News Service
    SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed changes to downstate teacher pensions could be altered to ease the financial burden on school districts, a key lawmaker said Wednesday.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Pension blowback
    2/24/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    The inevitable blowback to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pension reforms has started, largely generated by school boards and teachers unions that are going to be forced, finally, to make responsible spending decisions that don't saddle the state with huge costs.
    Read more...

    Mayor rips headline on his critique of state schools budget
    2/24/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    Mayor Daley lashed out at the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday for a headline that suggested he had given a failing grade to Gov. Blagojevich's budget for public schools.
    Read more...

    EP districts face crucial questions, New grade school boards will look at whether to consolidate
    2/24/2005 -

    Peoria Journal Star
    EAST PEORIA - The new local grade school boards in place after the April general election will inherit sound financial footings but crucial questions about their districts' futures. High among those is whether the districts, East Peoria District 86 and Robein District 85, should continue charting their own futures or consolidate.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Drain on state should cease on the double
    2/24/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    If you subscribe to the dictionary definition of pension as "a sum of money paid regularly as a retirement benefit or by way of patronage," you may be able to justify the "double dipping" that allows a gubernatorial appointee to draw a full-time salary while collecting hefty pension benefits from a former job with the state.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: Funding for stadium not a good idea
    2/24/2005 -

    Southern Illinoisan
    ...Blagojevich's plan to pork barrel $3 million to build a ball park in Marion is not the way to balance the state budget or help all of Southern Illinois.
    Read more...

    Governor's plan for pensions worries education officials
    2/23/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich's plan to reform the state's pension funds could come at the expense of money for the state's classrooms, say top pension experts.
    Read more...

    Belvidere schools chief raises pension worries
    2/23/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    Illinois school districts would be on the hook for an additional $149 million in pension payments under Gov. Rod Blagojevich's plan to overhaul state retirement plans, the head of the school retirement system said Tuesday.
    Read more...

    Editorial: 'Average' is compliment for state's fiscal problems
    2/23/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    If Illinois is "average" with the largest unfunded pension liability in the United States and lacking long-term budgeting, what must the other states be like?
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: Join local debate on state budget
    2/23/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    Among the many issues the General Assembly will address this year, none will be more challenging than balancing the state budget.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Madigan's meetings get people talking
    2/23/2005 -

    Joliet Herald News
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/heraldnews/opinions/j23edit.htm
    Read more...

    State budget opinions span spectrum
    2/23/2005 -
    Suburban Life Newspapers
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/politics/state/n0223budget.htm
    Read more...

    Pension changes 'devastating'
    2/23/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    Teachers group says any education budget increases would be eaten up
    Read more...

    Daley takes dig at gov over school funding
    2/23/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    Mayor Daley chided Gov. Blagojevich on Tuesday for a $53 billion state budget that ignores what the mayor contends should be Illinois' highest priority: a more equitable way to fund public education.
    Read more...

    Pension overhaul called hit to schools
    2/23/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    Official estimates cost at $149 million
    Read more...

    Editorial: Blagojevich gambling on cigs, pensions
    2/22/2005 -
    Aurora Beacon News
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/opinions/a22edit.htm
    Read more...

    Public can bounce budget questions off legislators
    2/22/2005 -

    Naperville Sun
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/sunpub/naper/top/n0222budget.htm
    Read more...

    Area has say on state budget
    2/22/2005 -

    Joliet Herald News
    Morris summit: Local officials weigh in on what Illinois needs
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    Peorians 'bearing the burden'
    2/21/2005 -

    Peoria Journal Star
    "We will not balance the budget by doing anything that asks the people we represent - the people who place their trust in us - to be the ones who bear the burden of years of waste and mismanagement, corruption and misplaced priorities." - Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Illinois budget address, Feb. 18, 2004
    Read more...

    Groups: $53 billion not enough
    2/21/2005 -
    Associated Press
    Public schools, interest groups left hurting in governor's budget plan
    Read more...

    Governor overlooks area needs
    2/21/2005 -

    Northwest Herald
    I can't blame you if you didn't hear Gov. Rod Blagojevich's budget address last week.
    Read more...

    Editorial: State pension reform needed; the time is now
    2/21/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    While the proposed budget Gov. Rod Blagojevich unveiled this week will be furiously debated in the months ahead, the General Assembly should not forget that the governor made one sound point.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Pension reform needed, but so is school support
    2/21/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    Governor's reform proposal is reasonable and responsible, but school funding must be addressed, too.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: Budget affects state's long-term health
    2/21/2005 -

    Joliet Herald News
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/heraldnews/opinions/j21guestcol.htm
    Read more...

    Blago has lapse on education
    2/21/2005 -

    State Journal Register
    Some of you may recall that when he ran in 2002, Gov. Rod Blagojevich pledged to give 51 percent of new state revenues each year to education.
    Read more...

    Budget relies on future savings
    2/21/2005 -
    Associated Press
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich's latest state budget is built on the idea that government can cut expenses decades from now but spend some of the savings today — an idea that worries a lot of people.
    Read more...

    Letter to the Editor: Teacher pensions
    2/21/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    In "Curing a pension hangover" you observe that the state legislature should "deep-six end-of-career sweeteners for teachers." I must ask: In what manner is the career of teaching "sweet" or "inflated"?
    Read more...

    FIE FIE FIE ON PRESIDENTS' DAY
    2/21/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    Every yearI get peevish on Presidents' Day because I have to work and public employees don’t.
    Read more...

    Time to send in a coach -- gov's not ready to play
    2/21/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    Gov. Blagojevich needs some help. If you watched or listened to the governor deliver his budget address last week, you know he needs help. Not only is his message inconsistent with his earlier promises, he's proposing a budget that won't cover the promises he's now making -- for education, health care and the environment.
    Read more...

    Schools not quite back in black
    2/21/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    Governor's upbeat report overlooks true depth of debt
    Read more...

    Remarks sure sounded like a pledge
    2/20/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    When is a pledge not a pledge?
    Read more...

    Commentary: Bringing government to the people
    2/20/2005 -
    Aurora Beacon News
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/opinions/a20chapa.htm
    Read more...

    Governor goes his own way
    2/20/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    Leeriness runs deep in halls of Capitol
    Read more...

    'Good speech, but ...'
    2/18/2005 -

    Copley News Service
    Area lawmakers take jabs at Blagojevich's budget
    Read more...

    Editorial: Projects, projects, projects
    2/18/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    Do you want to be scared about the financial future of Illinois? Then read Gov. Rod Blagojevich's budget address from the point where he said, "We need to pass a capital bill," through the point where he said, "I'm for these projects -- and I'm for a lot more."
    Read more...

    Editorial: Jones sounds more like dictator than a leader
    2/18/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    It's difficult to know what's more bothersome: the arrogance in Senate President Emil Jones' declaration that a proposal to increase the tobacco tax "cannot pass if I'm against it" or the probable accuracy of his statement.
    Read more...

    Jones considers change in sales tax
    2/18/2005 -

    State Journal Register
    Would be levied on hygiene items to raise money
    Read more...

    Editorial: Blago gambling on smokers and pensions
    2/18/2005 -

    Joliet Herald News
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/heraldnews/opinions/j18edit.htm
    Read more...

    Assembly unhappy about tax on smokes
    2/18/2005 -
    Associated Press
    Unhappy with Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposal to raise cigarette taxes, state lawmakers from both parties are searching for other ways of coming up with new money.
    Read more...

    Blagojevich-Jones rift widens
    2/18/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    Forget tax increase, governor warns
    Read more...

    Budget Blueprint
    2/17/2005 -

    Quincy Herald Whig
    Even before Gov. Rod Blagojevich had finished his budget speech, people around the state were talking about how they would be affected — for good or ill.
    Read more...

    Winkel calls Blagojevich's plan 'unrealistic'
    2/17/2005 -

    Champaign News Gazette
    SPRINGFIELD – Area legislators reacted warily to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's budget address on Wednesday, which was largely based on a proposal to reduce pension benefits for future employees and recognize some of the projected long-term savings now by reducing state contributions to the retirement systems by about $800 million.
    Read more...

    Quotes
    2/17/2005

    Read more...

    UP IN SMOKE? BLAGOJEVICH PROPOSES CIGARETTE TAX HIKE OF 75 CENTS A PACK IN ADDRESS
    2/17/2005 -

    Southern Illinoisan
    SOUTHERN ILLINOIS -- James and Barbara Flener pay a visit to Hungry's Restaurant in West Frankfort each day where they sip coffee, smoke cigarettes and talk with other regular customers.
    Read more...

    Reaction
    2/17/2005 -

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Gov. Rod Blagojevich proposed on Wednesday a budget that would give a little more money to schools, mass transit and major projects. It would stick smokers, corporate software buyers and future state employees with the tab.
    Read more...

    Pension-reform goals worthy but need work
    2/17/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    SPRINGFIELD -- Don't you just love to give people presents? And if you don't have to pay for them, it's great. Just say, "charge it."
    Read more...

    State budget plan draws grumbles
    2/17/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    Republicans say an attack on pension benefits would not generate savings for years to come.
    Read more...

    Tobacco products targeted
    2/17/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    Smokers doubt that raising taxes on cigarettes will be beneficial.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Controlling state spending a vow that hasn't worked
    2/17/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    Gov. Rod Blagovich didn't expound on gambling in his annual budget address, but he has to be a gambler with his gutsy proposals that strike at the heart of his strength heading into an obvious re-election campaign -- educators and unions.
    Read more...

    Critics: Gov's budget skimps on education
    2/17/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    Gov. Blagojevich disappointed key education leaders in the Legislature in his Wednesday budget address with a meager offering to public schools and his dismissal of a tax-swap plan championed by the top Senate Democrat.
    Read more...

    Local lawmakers say the numbers don't add up
    2/17/2005 -

    State Journal Register
    Springfield Rep. Raymond Poe did not think much of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's Wednesday budget address, an assessment he shared with the majority of his Republican colleagues from central Illinois.
    Read more...

    Blagojevich budget plan criticized
    2/17/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed budget landed with a thud Wednesday as critics voiced their disapproval of key elements of the $53 billion spending plan.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Governor pens budget fiction
    2/17/2005 -

    Northwest Herald
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich delivered a budget plan Wednesday to the General Assembly, with a little something for everyone to hate.
    Read more...

    Budget fails with local officials
    2/17/2005 -

    Northwest Herald
    SPRINGFIELD—Local lawmakers reacted coolly Wednesday to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's $53 billion budget plan.
    Read more...

    Governor's budget gets cold shoulder: Area lawmakers take issue with Blagojevich's plan
    2/17/2005 -

    Decatur Herald & Review
    SPRINGFIELD - Local lawmakers raised concerns Wednesday about Gov. Rod Blagojevich's plans for the state pension system and raising Illinois' cigarette tax.
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    Budget basics
    2/17/2005 -
    Associated Press
    BOTTOM LINE: $43.56 billion in operating expenses, plus $9.43 billion in construction and maintenance costs.
    Read more...

    $53 billion budget for '06
    2/17/2005 -

    State Journal Register
    Keeping it balanced relies largely on pension changes, increase in tobacco taxes
    Read more...

    Lawmakers decry Blagojevich budget
    2/17/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich's $53 billion spending plan for the coming budget year was immediately cast into doubt Wednesday as Republicans and Democrats alike denounced the paltry spending on education and the Senate president said "no" to raising cigarette taxes.
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    Gambling proponents hope budget gives expansion new momentum
    2/17/2005 -
    Associated Press
    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gov. Rod Blagojevich never mentioned casinos in his budget speech Wednesday, but his spending proposals gave gambling expansion advocates a new sense of optimism.
    Read more...

    Budget theme for '05: Change
    2/17/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    Gov calls for pension reform; schools would see small fund increase
    Read more...

    Legislators: Governor's budget will be tough sell
    2/17/2005 -

    Naperville Sun
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/sunpub/naper/top/n0217budge1.htm
    Read more...

    Editorial: NEWS ANALYSIS: Governor Blagojevich's 2005 Budget
    2/17/2005 -
    Illinois Leader
    Either Governor Blagojevich is fulfilling his promises not to raise income or sales taxes or he is setting the stage for income and sales tax hikes that can be passed over his veto--either interpretation could be drawn form his third budget address.
    Read more...

    State Board to discuss FY06 Budget; listen via web
    2/17/2005 -
    Listen to the Real Player stream at 9:30AM today.
    Read more...

    Smoke role up in budget plan
    2/17/2005 -
    Associated Press
    Lean spending blueprint raises cigarette taxes, overhauls pensions
    Read more...

    State can't stone smokers, so it taxes them to death
    2/17/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    There may be no one as despised, reviled and discriminated against by society as the cigarette smoker.
    Read more...

    Jones opposes tobacco tax hike
    2/17/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich's plan to raise taxes on cigarettes may go up in a puff of smoke.
    Read more...

    Editorial: No room for pension gravy on lean budget menu
    2/17/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    There's much to like about Gov. Blagojevich's budget. It's pragmatic, well-reasoned and fiscally conservative.
    Read more...

    ISBE passes gov's budget; allocates $120M
    2/17/2005
    The state budget book released yesterday showed the $140M increase in the “School Endowment Programs” line item on page 4-4 of which $30M was earmarked for Early Childhood. The State Board of Education had only $110M to allocate. They zeroed out the $10M for Fast Growth Grants and allocated a total of $120M today.
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    Key ally digs in over funding for schools; Senate leader Jones attacks Blagojevich's `paltry sum' for education
    2/17/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich's new $53 billion budget proposal was on shaky ground from the moment he presented it Wednesday, with his key legislative ally threatening a fight over the governor's rejection of sweeping school finance reform.
    Read more...

    Schools sound alarm over funding proposal
    2/17/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich's state budget proposal for public schools is so austere that districts would see an increase of about $87 a student next school year--at the very most.
    Read more...

    Editorial: A spoonful of sugar, please
    2/17/2005 -

    Chicago Tribune
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich's budget speech Wednesday may have carried the aftertaste of castor oil, but that still goes down better than the arsenic Illinoisans will be forced to swallow a few years hence if his warnings aren't heeded.
    Read more...

    A Summary of Illinois News
    2/17/2005 -
    Associated Press
    Gov. Rod Blagojevich proposed a $53 billion state budget Wednesday that would close a $1.1 billion gap between soaring state costs and slim revenues by raising cigarette taxes and offering complex plans to cut pension costs and siphon money away from other government services.
    Read more...

    Blagojevich proposes lean budget for 2006
    2/16/2005 -

    Quincy Herald Whig
    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants to reduce pensions for any new state employees in a plan that would withhold $800 million in pension contributions this year.
    Read more...

    Blago $53B budget avoids higher sales, income tax
    2/16/2005 -
    Associated Press
    Relies on jump in cigarette taxes and pension overhaul
    Read more...

    FY06 ed budget expected Thurs., following gov's address today
    2/16/2005 -
    Students First Illinois
    Today the Governor delivered his FY06 state budget address. Education was a prominent subject, however he provided little detail on the specifics of the FY06 education budget other than a $140M increase in funding.
    Read more...

    Governor Wants Smokers To Cough Up Cash
    2/16/2005 -
    CBS - Chicago
    CHICAGO (CBS 2) When Gov. Rod Blagojevich goes before the state legislature for his yearly budget message, he’ll have some bad news for smokers.
    Read more...

    FY06 ed budget expected Thurs., following gov's address today
    2/16/2005 -
    Students First Illinois
    Today the Governor delivered his FY06 state budget address. Education was a prominent subject, however he provided little detail on the specifics of the FY06 education budget other than a $140M increase in funding.
    Read more...

    EDUCATORS AWAIT GOVERNOR'S BUDGET ADDRESS
    2/16/2005 -

    Southern Illinoisan
    SOUTHERN ILLINOIS -- Local superintendents hold high hopes for Gov. Rod Blagojevich's budget address today in Springfield.
    Read more...

    PENSION REFORM KEY ISSUE IN GOVERNOR'S BUDGET
    2/16/2005 -

    Southern Illinoisan
    SOUTHERN ILLINOIS -- When Gov. Rod Blagojevich announces his much-anticipated 2005 budget plans today, expect pension reform to be a chief topic.
    Read more...

    Tobacco tax hike possible
    2/16/2005 -

    Bloomington Pantagraph
    SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected to call for a 75-cent increase in the state's tobacco tax during his annual budget speech today.
    Read more...

    Gov plans big boost in cigarette tax
    2/16/2005 -

    Chicago Sun-Times
    SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Blagojevich wants smokers to cough up 75 cents more per pack to help build more Illinois schools and pave roads -- a move that would give the state one of the highest cigarette taxes in the country.
    Read more...

    Editorial: Facing reality of pension debt
    2/16/2005 -

    State Journal Register
    STATE OFFICIALS continue to argue over what the upcoming fiscal year's budget deficit will be. Some say it will be as "little" as $1 billion. A more pessimistic view pegs it at just over $2 billion.
    Read more...

    Budget could raise cigarette taxes, change pensions
    2/16/2005 -

    State Journal Register
    Blagojevich must address shortfall
    Read more...

    State representatives expecting another overtime budget session
    2/15/2005 -

    Naperville Sun
    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/sunpub/naper/business/n0215state.htm
    Read more...

    Pensions in state budget crosshairs
    2/14/2005 -
    Associated Press
    SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Rod Blagojevich has spent two years trying to balance the budget by cutting jobs, trimming costs, raising fees and getting creative with state debt.
    Read more...

    Opinioin: IT'S TIME FOR A REALITY CHECK IN ILLINOIS
    2/14/2005 -

    Southern Illinoisan
    Illinoisans are exposed to a surfeit of reality shows, but what we truly need is a reality check.
    Read more...

    Governor alters pensions to balance the budget
    2/13/2005 -

    Daily Southtown
    This week the bill comes due for decades of government incompetence and political graft in this state.
    Read more...

    We're all paying for it
    2/13/2005 -

    Daily Herald
    SPRINGFIELD - Perhaps the biggest political debate at the Capitol this year focuses on an extremely boring topic - pension payments.
    Read more...

    Editorial: State has unique chance to tame pension monster
    2/12/2005 -

    Peoria Journal Star
    The state's best chance to tame the pension monster it created comes this year. If the Legislature and governor don't grab the whip they've been handed, Illinoisans will be in for some brutal years ahead.
    Read more...

    Independent education advocacy is HISTORY
    2/9/2005 -
    Students First Illinois
    According to AP, "The State Board of Education won't discuss how much money Illinois schools need in the coming year until after the governor presents his own budget proposal..."
    Read more...

    Independent education advocacy is HISTORY
    2/9/2005 -
    Students First Illinois
    According to AP, "The State Board of Education won't discuss how much money Illinois schools need in the coming year until after the governor presents his own budget proposal..."
    Read more...

    Residents offer input on state budget
    2/8/2005 -

    Rockford Register Star
    ROCKFORD -- Marcia Heuer's message was simple: Don't hike taxes on Illinois graphic arts companies or hundreds of Ogle County jobs will disappear.
    Read more...


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