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 - from legislators. It was Blagojevich’s...
from legislators. It was Blagojevich’s Blagojevich’s first budget address since the end of last year’s marathon marathon legislative session was forced into nearly two months of overtime by an impasse over his fiscal 2005 spending blueprint. blueprint. During negotiations to resolve resolve the stalemate,Blagojevich formed an alliance with Jones to fight for more spending, especially especially on education. The other side of the battle was waged by Democratic House Speaker Michael Michael Madigan and legislative Republicans, who pushed for deeper spending cuts. Those alliances may now be reversing, with Jones ripping the governor for not embracing aschool-reform plan that would reduce inequities in education funding. Jones also wants to lessen heavy reliance on the property tax to pay for schools and supplant the lost revenue with an increase in income taxes. “I’ll veto any bill that raises the income tax in whatever form,” Blagojevich said, repeating repeating a frequent promise to oppose oppose any hike in the income or sales tax. The governor said the state could reap more money to spend on schools if lawmakers would go along with his proposal to reduce reduce retirement perks for new state workers, a move that would free up cash that would otherwise have to be paid to government government employee pension funds. “I’m not convinced that the only answer to school funding and the inequities to the school- funding formulas necessarily mean you have to raise the income income tax or the sales tax,” he said. Jones has said he would push atax swap regardless of the governor’s governor’s opposition, contending that elderly residents of Illinois are “being taxed out of their homes” to pay property taxes for education. “We’ve had panels and task forces and commissions, and nothing has ever been done,” said Cindy Davidsmeyer, Jones’ spokeswoman. “We can do this. We should do this. That’s what he would like to see done, and his preference is this spring.” But Blagojevich said it’s too soon to propose such a complex overhaul. “To borrow from the Bible, there’s a season for all things,” he said. “There’s a season season to be born, there’s a season to die, a season to plant and a season for school finance reform. reform. This season is pension reform.” reform.” The governor also was unenthusiastic unenthusiastic about Jones’ proposal proposal to generate revenue by expanding expanding gambling. Blagojevich said that if he endorsed more gaming in Illinois and helped the state through its fiscal crisis, crisis, it would only prevent the General Assembly from having to make tough fiscal decisions. Jones and Senate Democrats were pushing ahead nonetheless nonetheless with alternatives to Blagojevich’s Blagojevich’s revenue ideas. On Thursday they floated proposals proposals that included Internet-based lottery ticket sales and a broadening broadening of the state’s sales tax to include currently untaxed items such as medicated shampoos. shampoos. Aides with the governor said they had not thought much about the lottery proposal, especially especially given concerns about federal federal restrictions. While Blagojevich has proposed proposed cutting the budget, his biggest revenue generator is a proposed 75-cent increase in the cigarette tax, which would bringthe total state portion of the levy to $1.73. In addition to feeding the state’s starving coffers, coffers, the governor said Thursday the idea has a side benefit. “I believe there will be fewer teenagers who will get hooked on smoking because the price of cigarettes went up by 75 cents,” he said. “I can’t give you an exact exact number, but I know there’s a teenager or two out there who won’t be able to afford enough cigarettes to get hooked.” Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson contributed to this report. report. Tribune photo by Chuck Berman Budget Director John Filan (left) and Gov. Rod Blagojevich meet Thursday with the Tribune editorial board. BUDGET: Alliances built last year may be shifting CONTINUEDFROMPAGE1

Clipped from
  1. Chicago Tribune,
  2. 18 Feb 2005, Fri,
  3. Other Editions,
  4. Page 2-4

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