[Posted by Kevin Fanning]
* The Governor is continuing to gear up his PR blitz on the disastrous impact of budget cuts:
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration is escalating its public-relations blitz for more state budget money, pressing legislators directly and through the media to approve $1.5 billion in new revenue sources –- and warning that everything from Amtrak riders to AIDS patients will suffer debilitating budget cuts if they don’t.
“The House . . . (should) come back and finish what they started,’’ Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee said today in a conference call with the Post-Dispatch editorial page. It was one of several such meetings administration officials are conducting this week around the state with newspapers, social agency heads and lawmakers themselves, in an attempt to pressure the Legislature into providing more money to the budget.
In newspaper meetings, and in an unusual mass conference call with lawmakers yesterday, Greenlee pressed House Dems to rethink their opposition to those revenue sources.
The administration has listed numerous potential cuts in areas like transit, health care, and education that he’s poised to make if the revenue sources aren’t approved early next month. And it looks like many in the media are eating it up…
Joe Szabo, with the United Transportation Union, said the $28 million subsidy being threatened by Gov. Rod Blagojevich if revenue streams for the state’s FY09 budget aren’t delivered would wipe out all but the City of New Orleans train, which only arrives in Carbondale from the Louisiana city in the early hours of the morning.
All spring, the Illinois House rejected those ideas. The House then adjourned having passed plenty of new spending bills but none of the governor’s proposed revenue bills. It sent the governor a budget he claims is $2 billion out of balance. As promised, the governor this week released a list of cuts he plans to make to the budget. Unless, of course, the House changes its mind and passes all the things it rejected all spring.
THAT IS not going to happen, and that’s why we believe the only solution begins with the governor ordering the General Assembly back to Springfield for a special session.
* Rep. Washington, who participated in a conference call with other legislators and the governor’s office on Wednesday, jumped in the mix saying thats he’s leaning toward a vote on funding before the July 9 deadline:
“They’re reeling us in over Madigan’s objections,” he said. “They’re trying to weaken his leadership in the House and break the unity of the House. The speaker should really consider letting the proposal (seven bills proposed to offset the deficit) come to the floor and letting it fall or rise on its own merits.”
* However, many legislators aren’t buying it:
“I don’t think he’s capable of that,” said Righter, R-Mattoon. “He’s had six years to demonstrate he can be prudent with state money. Unfortunately, what he has done is demonstrate an eagerness to cut the budget in smaller areas that are particularly sensitive to downstate Illinois.”
“He goes after these popular programs to strike fear into people,” said state Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan. “He’s blaming the House, but we passed a barebones budget and there were even some modest increases in the barebones one.”
The question is, who blinks first in this game of chicken?
*** UPDATE *** The Governor plans on announcing a $14 million, statewide summer-jobs program today for 10,000 teens and young adults in violence-prone neighborhoods.
Steve Brown, a spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, quipped:
“He made the statement . . . about approving this budget would be like signing a bad check. How can a man make that statement and 48 hours later announce a new spending program?”
* It makes a doomsday scenario of deep budget cuts a little harder to swallow when you roll out a new $14 million dollar summer-jobs program for teens…
* Blagojevich in full-court press to get new funding
* If Blago cuts Amtrak, we’d have only an after-midnight train
* Blago’s Budget Cuts Would Hit All Over State
* Governor’s flip-flop on Pontiac prison closure draws skepticism
* Construction officials push to pass bill
* Odds are against using gambling revenue
* State Senator Steans Comments On Uptown Gang Violence
* Rep. Harris on Governor’s Budget Cuts