News from Senator Peter Roskam Senate Republican Whip
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For Immediate Release

Date:  Feb. 18, 2005/ls

SENATE WEEK IN REVIEW: February 14-18

SPRINGFIELD –Gov. Rod Blagojevich outlined his $53 billion budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2006 to a joint session of the General Assembly on Feb. 16, and Senate committees began this week to consider some of the hundreds of bills that have already been introduced.

State Senator Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton) says Blagojevich’s spending blueprint is “just more of the same” – increasing taxes, spending now and paying later, and expanding social programs the state can’t even afford now. Fiscal Year 2006 runs from July 1, 2005, through June 30, 2006.

The Governor’s plan includes a 75-cent cigarette tax increase, a tax on computer software, a tax on landfill-generated electricity, more raids on dedicated state funds, and the continued expansion of social service programs.

Blagojevich is also proposing the creation of a two-tier state employee pension system to cut future costs – but spend the money now. Senator Roskam says it’s a good idea to examine the need for pensions reforms but warns that Blagojevich wants to under-fund the constitutionally guaranteed system by $800 million now, and is relying on a hoped-for estimate of future cost savings as the basis of his latest quick fix for the state’s finances.

Roskam also expressed disappointment with the Governor’s third expansion of the FamilyCare Program, which offers free, taxpayer-paid health care coverage to parents living with their children 18 years old or younger, or relatives who are caring for children in place of their parents. Blagojevich has expanded the FamilyCare program twice already – and his proposal to expand the program again would mean that a family of four could have a household income of $38,500 and qualify for FamilyCare, whether their employer offers health insurance or not. Senator Roskam says FamilyCare is an important program for people who need it, but it is hard to justify continued expansion when the state cannot pay its bills on time right now.

The Governor’s Budget Address is the only the first step in the long and complex budget negotiation process, and in the coming months, lawmakers will be making changes that reflect the priorities of Illinois citizens.

The following bills were approved by Senate committees during the week of Feb. 14-18 and now head to the full Senate for consideration:

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