A news report in the Harrisburg (Illinois) Daily Register said the House rejected Blagojevich’s lottery privatization plan by a 78-6 vote. Under the plan, the state would lease the lottery to a private vendor for at least $10 billion and use the money to retire part of the $42 billion pension fund debt.
According to the news report, the vote came hours
after Blagojevich charged House Speaker Michael Madigan
with aligning himself with “conservative, right-wing
Republicans” to thwart the governor’s efforts at
expanding health care and education funding.
“Our challenge is to try to convince House Democrats, Mr. Madigan, to stop being a Republican, to stop forming partnerships with conservative right-wing Republicans to pass budgets that take health care away from children, that take services away from senior citizens, that cut education,” Blagojevich said, according to the newspaper. “We need to get Mr. Madigan to be a Democrat again and stop being a George Bush Republican,” Blagojevich said.
“It demonstrates his immaturity,” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown responded, the newspaper said. “He rolls out a string of insults and offers no solutions about the budget impasse.”
Without the deal, said Representative Kurt Granberg, the amount the state needs to pay into its pension plans will soar, leaving no money for education and other services. “We need to do something dramatic and drastic,” Granberg said.
According to the report, additional lawmaker
complaints about the lottery plan include that it will
leave a $630 million hole in the school aid budget and
the state would get $10 billion from an asset that’s
worth far more.
The Senate, meanwhile, approved a resolution drafted by the Blagojevich administration saying the pension funding issue is serious and should be addressed this year. It was adopted on a voice vote.