WIU project doesn't make Governor Blagojevich's budget address
The eyes and ears of the many players involved in the effort to bring state funding for the WIU riverfront campus project in Moline were riveted on Governor Rod Blagojevich's budget address today.
The State Board of Higher Education had recently included the project in it's list of recommendations it sent to the Governor for consideration. (You may remember this as only the latest time Sen. Jacobs jumped for headlines by callling this "enormous news" and giving the impression it was a done deal.)
Since then, those hoping the project is funded have been waiting on pins and needles to see if the Governor would actually mention the project in his budget address, thus indicating that it was indeed a priority to him.
They were disappointed. The WIU project was nowhere in the Governor's address. Though this by no means indicates the project is dead, it nevertheless isn't an encouraging sign.
But the lobbying will continue and we can all continue to hope that the initial funding might be included in the capital budget, IF the lege is able to pass one, which is far from a given.
If the Republicans don't go along and decide they'd rather not give the Gov a lot of goodies he can then use in his re-election campaign, then it's war.
If that scenario comes to pass, it will mean that the project will have little chance of making it into the budget without Republican support, and while that's not impossible, again, they may be less than anxious to do anything which will give the Governor or Dem politicians the opportunity to crow about in the run up to the general elections.
The budget includes funds to partially open the Thomson prison with 75 guards and 200 prisoners and opening a 200-bed unit for treating methamphetamine users at Southwestern Illinois Correctional Center in East St. Louis.
Summary pieces on the Governor's proposed budget in the Trib and Sun-Times.
Blago's state website has streaming video and audio as well as a power point presentation on his budget plans. It's interesting stuff, though of course it's from the Gov's perspective.
Here, from the Governor's press release, is the list of priorities for the budget:
- Investing $100 million in stem cell research over five years;
- Creating the Prairie State DNA Institute;
- A plan to eliminate the nursing shortage;
- A new program to reduce K-3 class sizes;
- Veterans Care: a health care program to cover uninsured veterans;
- New police officers;
- New tax credits to promote development in Illinois cities bordering major rivers and to expand the film industry in Illinois;
- Reducing the time it takes to process applications for state licenses from 4 to 19 weeks to one to four weeks;
- Increased funding for higher education;
- $400 million in new funding for K-12 education;
- Creating a one stop service center for senior citizens;
- Combining state agency administrative functions to improve efficiency and save money;
- Strengthening payments into the pension systems by dedicating the proceeds from the sale of the 10th casino license to pensions;
- Creating new prison facilities to deal specifically with the problem of addiction to methampathemine; and
- Providing a $1,000 tax credit to students (freshmen and sophomores) with a B average attending college in Illinois.