March 8, 2007

Governor's budget falls short on WIU, makes business interests howl

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposed budget seemed to contain something for everyone to complain about. From short changing the WIU riverfront campus development to proposing a revenue based business tax, it was hard to find anyone saying something good about it, except perhaps on a Swedish website that appears to have simply copied and pasted Blago's press release.

The budget proposes the largest tax increase in the state's history along with a proposal to provide health care for those in need, increased education funding and funding for school construction.

It proposes spending $14 million dollars on the $75 million dollar WIU project.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday called for the largest tax increase in state history to pay for an ambitious program of expanding health-care coverage, increasing education funding and helping schools with construction projects.
Web extra: Read Blagojevich's speech

The proposed tax hikes, with no corresponding property tax relief, and a 10 percent increase in state spending drew a mixed response from lawmakers in both parties, ranging from tepid support to outright hostility.

In a 33-minute State of the State/ budget address before the General Assembly, the Democratic governor, as expected, called for a new tax on gross business receipts that would raise about $6 billion annually when fully implemented. He also called for a 3 percent payroll tax on businesses that don't provide health insurance for employees or that provide only bare-bones coverage, something that could generate another $1 billion.

Those tax increases would help pay for a $2.1 billion initiative to provide health insurance to 1.4 million Illinoisans not currently covered, a $1.5 billion increase for education and a $1.5 billion program to help schools with construction projects.

Blagojevich also said he wants to issue $16 billion in lower-interest bonds and lease the lottery for a projected $10 billion to pay down the $42 billion debt accumulated by the five state-funded pension systems.

Blagojevich described his budget plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 as "prescribed by our collective conscience and by what I believe is a moral imperative." The $7 billion in tax hikes targeted at big business, he said, is a matter of fairness.

"The moral imperative is this: While the middle class pays more and huge corporations just walk, a child pays the price with increasingly crowded classrooms, the family in need of health care pays a price in health care they can't afford, the worker depending on a pension pays a price with a retirement that is no longer secure," Blagojevich said.

The D/A immediately found business types to howl about the proposal, including go-to guy, Bob Imler of River Stone, the same corporation which has projects slated for Big Island, and owns property where both the R.I. Casino is to be located as well as the property under the proposed Triumph hog slaughter plant, to decry the measure, as well as Moline Alderman Croty, who owns a metal plating business, and the owner of Teske's, who opined that the government is only to provide for defense, everything else should be determined by the market, a telling perspective.

The Chicago Tribune account put it:
Gaps in the Illinois health care system are more than a simple policy problem to Gov. Rod Blagojevich. They're a contradiction of God's intentions.

And state taxes aren't simply unfair. They "stick it to the people."

Trying to sell lawmakers and the public on his ambitious tax and health care proposals, Blagojevich framed the debate in terms of morality and class. Those who oppose him are, he suggested, turning their backs on what's right.

"To me, the choice is simple," the Chicago Democrat said Wednesday in his fifth State of the State address. "I stand with the people."

Some lawmakers accused Blagojevich of demonizing the opposition and using emotion to cloud an important debate.

"I want to cut through rhetoric and get down to the hard facts of what these things mean," said Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion.

Blagojevich proposed the biggest tax increase in Illinois history. He said the $7 billion in new business taxes should be used to provide health care to the uninsured and pump more money into public schools.

The state could cover 1.4 million uninsured adults, he said, while also providing a 23 percent increase in education spending next year alone.

Blagojevich argued that Illinois businesses don't pay their fair share of taxes, so taxing them more heavily would improve state services and ease the burden on regular people.

Rejecting the higher business taxes would "stick it to the people who clock into work, who count pennies and cut out vacations to make ends meet," he said.

The Chicago Democrat also proposed letting a private company take over the state lottery and borrowing billions of dollars. Those steps would generate about $26 billion that would be used to shore up the state's shaky retirement systems.

Business groups immediately condemned his proposals, particularly the taxes, as certain to drive up consumer prices and discourage companies from doing business in Illinois.

In an AP story on reaction to the plan, Sen. Jacobs is quoted as saying regarding Blago's plan to launch major new programs: "Do we really need new programs if our situation is so desperate we have to raise this kind of tax?"

He also indicated he'd hold his vote on the plan hostage to extort more money for the WIU project.

What's your two cents on the Governor's bold plan?


At 3/08/2007 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 3/09/2007 7:44 AM, Blogger Benton Harbor said...

Dope, first, good write-up. Second, I think Mike Jacobs may have said it best... "do we really need new programs if our situation is so desparate that we have to raise this kind of tax?"

The blame for this mess can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the quibbeling (sp?) IL State Legislature over the years. Not just the Blago or Ryan years either. It goes deeper than that. Constantly spend when they didn't have the revenue. Taking "loans" from the pension funds, and not repaying those loans. Etc, etc.

As far as making the corporations pay their fair share, instead of imposing this new gross receipts tax, close the loopholes in the current state tax law that allow corporations to not have to pay tax. Then maybe re-evaluate the next step. Don't make businesses less competitive in IL than they may already be. The D/A noted that only 8 states had a gross receipts tax. Hell, if it's so good, every state would use it to raise revenue. (And I love the name... isn't it actually a VAT?)

The legislature should also look at figuring out a better and more equitable way to pay for education. And selling the lottery won't help, as it does toss money in the coffers (although it's a fallacy that the lottery pays for education - it helps replace money the state doesn't put towards education).

The problems with state finances doesn't have an overnight cure. And I don't think creating these new tax initiatives is the answer when some of the problems with an already-broken system haven't been truly addressed and/or fixed.

It's also not a good idea to make all kinds of promises during a campaign, with no prior thought of how to finance those problems, as Blago did. I guess now we are starting to see how he planned to pay for those "feel good" issues.

At 3/10/2007 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Little Mikey didn't think the state was in too bad a shape to cough up nearly a million buck subsidy for Shaffer fisheries. Guess it depends on whos getting the state dough. The difference is that the uninsured and school kids don't donate to little mikey.

At 3/10/2007 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Jacobs FAILS AGAIN yet demonstrates his lack of political clout and implements a mindless strategy.

Mike Jacobs supported Governor BLAGO during the 2006 elections and stood by him in Quad City press releases, endorsing him.

2008 is around the corner. Where is that Paul Rumler guy to give it another go in the Primary?

At 3/10/2007 9:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Jacobs was a wash out at the Iowa football program.

Just watched a re-run of a funny movie by Adam Sandler called the Waterboy.

I think there's something wrong with his Medulla Oblongata.

At 3/10/2007 10:28 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I suppose it counts that at least he got Blago to at least give a committement for a fraction of the needed amount (for whatever that's worth).

With WIU asking for over twice the millions that they say is needed for the Moline project to devote to construction of a new performing arts center in Macomb, I guess it's lucky the gov tossed Jacobs a bone at all.

And of course, this is just Blago's proposed budget. The dogfight is just beginning. We'll see what happens and wait to see how much, if any, is actually delivered.

It's too soon to make any judgements just yet.

At 3/11/2007 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FACT 1) Upon taking office Sen. Mike Jacobs quickly formed a "Blue Ribbon Task Force" to focus public attention on the need for a public university in the Quad Cites.

FACT 2) Last year, Jacobs and Verschoore secured $2.5 million to plan a new university in the Quad Cities.

FACT 3) This year, Jacobs and Verschoore got $14.5 million into the Capitol Budget for the new university.

FACT 4) Now Jacobs and Verschoore are pushing the State to provide total funding for the new university ($71 million).

FACT 5) Jacobs and Verschoore have actually exceeded expectations, as the UNIVERSITIES STATED completion date is 2020.


At 3/12/2007 1:17 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

All your false bluster and bullshit is hard for me to deal with. The facts I can handle just fine.

I actually defended the senator in my previous comment and I still get this steaming load of rubbish. Guess it's not worth it.

Bottom line: Can you point to anywhere in this post and its comments or anywhere else on this blog, where any facts have been mistated, including the ones in your comment?

If so, please do.

If not, do everyone a favor and spare us your lying attempts to pretend there's been any false reporting or misrepresentation of facts on this issue.


All the facts you seem so proud of yelling amount to exactly what's been reported here over the course of this isuse. Every one of them has been reported here at one time or other.

You trumpet that Jacobs and Vershoore (as if they're the only ones) are "trying" to secure full funding. Duh.

Have I or anyone else ever said differently?

I ask you. You say the facts are hard for me to handle. OK then. What is it about this post (or any other mention of this project here) that you feel is incorrect?

I look forward to your reply.

FACT: Millions have been spent on planning and studies. This money has been gotten from both federal and state sources.

FACT: Jacobs and everyone else has failed to secure anything close to the needed amount of funding and have not been able to get a committment to do so from the governor.

FACT: Despite previous assurances, the governor offered a fraction of the money needed in his recent budget address.

FACT: All of the millions spent so far haven't resulted in so much as a shovel-full of dirt beng turned. And unless and until even the partial funding mentioned in the budget address actually materializes, there will be no tangible results to show for the millions spent.

FACT: Jacobs, especially at the beginning, often tried to put himself in front of this project and take credit for it. Therefore he gets the same attention when he fails to deliver.
Apparently now that things aren't going as planned, he's willing to share the credit/blame.

No one is saying that this should be a piece of cake. And no one is suggesting that Jacobs isn't "trying" as you state.

All that's being pointed out are the FACTS as they stand. Period.

If the facts as they stand make you angry and frustrated, I'm sorry. But again, all your "facts" have been accurately reported here numerous times.

I know you feel you have to try to attack the messenger, but when you have to lie to do so, you lose.

If you had any regard for actual FACTS yourself, you'd realize your shrill and false attempts to cry foul look ridiculous.

If you want glowing coverage, which clearly you think you deserve, and you think continuing to spout false charges and idiotic attacks against the people you want it from is a good way to get it, which apparently you do, then we suggest you rethink things.

The Dope and his minions

At 3/12/2007 8:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Boland has again failed to bring anything of substance to the table. He says that he supports the Govs budget and he isn't going to fight for the total amount of WIU is a sin. That he isn't even mentioned speaks volumes about his committment to WIU.

And yes it does matter where the money is spent. I would think that everyone believes this. Why spend the money on Chicago. I wish Mikey Boland would step up and help Jacobs and Vershoore.

You seem to endlessly attack Jacobs and let Boland get a free ride on WIU. Boland has held his position for 14 years and he has done nothing on WIU the whole time.

Bustos is catching fire for Mikey Bolands seat in the primary.

At 3/12/2007 10:23 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Whatever. (yawn)

At 3/12/2007 4:55 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

To the Jacobs flack that insists on writing in their ridiculous attempts to puff up and flatter the senator while trying to avoid dealing with the facts I've written by trying to pretend that it's untrue or inaccurate.

I won't dignify your comment by posting all of it, but you did respond to my call for you to cite anything I've reported about the WIU project that was untrue, in light of your constant blather about how I don't know what I'm talking about, don't have the facts, etc.

Here's what you wrote, among a bunch of other attempts to attack me for somehow misstating facts:

"FACT: The governor never publicly said he would fund the university or even provide partial funding. For you to state otherwise is totally false. If you think he did please provide his words for all to see. Fact is you can't! Once again you don't know what you are talking about."

It took about two minutes to come up with this quote from the Dispatch Sept. 8, 2006.

"MOLINE — Gov. Rod Blagojevich pledged an additional $14 million for the construction of the Western Illinois University Quad-Cities riverfront campus Thursday as part of a statewide capital improvement plan that he predicted would be passed by the end of the year.

The capital improvement plan failed earlier this year in the General Assembly, derailed by partisan politics, Gov. Blagojevich said. A new $3.2 billion bill includes road improvements, school and university construction will be introduced in the veto session that starts after the Nov. 7 general election.
WIU has already received $2.4 million from the state for expansion planning.

"We have got to pass this capital bill," Gov. Blagojevich said speaking at the planned WIU riverfront campus site. "We have to have some of the people on the other side of the aisle cross over to support our universities.

"We will have this done before Christmas," he said."

I'll even give you the link.

OK, wise guy. There you go. Who doesn't know what they're talking about now.

I've never stated that the governor has flat out said he'd deliver the money, only that he's made committments to get it, which he clearly has.

Once again, your semi-literacy is causing you problems. Your eyes have a nasty habit of making things appear when they don't exist. You continually spout things you say I've written, and then condemn them as lies or falsehoods. But when I didn't write any such thing and you can't show me where I did, you simply look desperate and stupid.

I have confidence you can do that without resorting to making stuff up to then condemn and attack.

Please just give it up while you're behind.

At 3/12/2007 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FACT: The pie with the proposed tax increase is very large

FACT: The portion Jacobs is asking for and settling for is very small.

FACT: Jacobs supports BLAGO's plan, just wants some of the dough.

FACT: Jacobs was quoted in the paper stating that this is bad because it drives manufacturing out of Illinois

FACT: Jacobs stated that they should start using their heads.

OPINION: There is something very wrong with Mike Jacobs’s medulla oblongata.

Jacobs reminds me of the Waterboy, except that "daddy said..."

At 3/15/2007 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boland has been quoted in the paper that he is for the tax increase. Jacobs has not stated that he was for the tax increase. Get your facts straight anon. I think you are mistaken.

At 3/15/2007 2:25 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

anon 6:56. After seeing your comment I searched for the mention in "the paper" that had Boland saying he was in favor of the tax increase. Assuming you meant the Dispatch, this is all I found.
"In regards to the gross receipt tax, Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Rock Island, wasn't as skeptical as some.

"The business community is dead set against it, and I'm sure they're going to be lobbying hard, but if these companies aren't paying their fair share then I think they should be," he said.

Rep Mike Boland, D-East Moline, also wasn't as skeptical about the budget address in general.

The governor "really addressed the three big problems that we've had in the state of Illinois: the pension problem, the health-care problem and the school funding problem," he said.

"This could be really a historic session if we can address all three of those through an instituted fairer tax system." <<

So... under your standards, it appears that Verschoore is "in favor" of the tax hike as well, since both he and Boland are quoted as being "not as skeptical"?

From reading that, I don't get that either made firm statements of support, though they both would appear to be leaning in favor of the governor's proposals in general.

Jacobs simply punted by saying, "Somebody's going to get taxed, and I just think we need to find the fairest, most equitable way."

I think you're splitting hairs here between one guy who didn't say either way, and two who said they "weren't as skeptical" as others, at least according to this particular piece in the times written directly after Blago's address.

Needless to say, at that point no one had had a chance to digest it all.


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