Governor OKs most of state budget,Blagojevich cuts $463 million in 'pork' projects
August 24, 2007
By Christoper Willis The Associated Press
SPRINGFIELD -- After 23 days, Illinois finally has a state budget -- or most of one.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the roughly $60 billion budget into law Thursday, except for $463 million that he called "special pet projects and other spending that we simply can't afford."
The Democratic governor also renewed his promise to add government health programs that legislators had refused to support. He plans more than $400 million in new or expanded services despite questions about whether he has the money or the legal authority.
Approving the budget means the state will start delivering school aid, worker's compensation, health care payments and other checks that were halted when the state's old budget expired July 31. The portions he vetoed go back to the General Assembly.
9 percent increase for schools
The new budget includes an increase of $597 million, or 9 percent, for elementary and secondary schools. It depends largely on natural growth in state revenues during the coming year, as well as ending a handful of tax breaks for business.
It does not have any major tax increases or gambling expansions, two of the many ideas discussed in the long months of bickering over the budget. Blagojevich signed the spending plan despite arguing earlier this month that it was perhaps $1 billion out of balance.
His signature largely resolves the most contentious issue of a bizarre legislative session marked by bitter disagreements among Democratic leaders and a record-breaking overtime session.
But the disagreements likely are to continue as officials try to come up with money for roads, bridges and mass transit.
Projects cut, projects spared in State Budget
A former superintendent of the Cook County Forest Preserve District was found dead Friday in the flooded basement of his Inverness home, police said. Arthur Janura, 87, possibly died as a result of electrocution
The official cause of his death had not been determined as of Friday night. An autopsy was scheduled for Saturday, a spokesman for the Cook County medical examiner's office said.
Janura, who served as the general superintendent for 27 years, had hooked up a sump pump generator in the basement, according to his son, retired Associate Cook County Judge Arthur Janura Jr. "We don't know exactly what happened," he said.