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Governor Blagojevich Labors to Gain Lawmakers Support

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Governor Blagojevich Labors to Gain Lawmakers Support

The Governor has held up budget talks and kept lawmakers in a record overtime session by insisting universal health care be part of the state’s next spending plan.

But Blagojevich is still struggling to gain support as his program remains stalled in the Illinois Senate.

Illinois Public Radio’s Sean Crawford reports.

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Lawmakers say they’re not against health care. Their main sticking point is how to pay for it, including if they can support a new payroll tax on businesses that would fund the more than one billion dollar initiative.

The Senate sponsor, Chicago Democrat Carol Ronen, acknowledges the lack of votes but maintains health care must be part of a final budget.

RONEN: I’m not instresting in leaving without passing health care and I think a lot of people feel that way, too. I also care about education and I also care about mass transit. We’ve got to do all these things.

One estimate places Blagojevich six votes shy of passage in the state Senate even after changes that make the program cheaper to get underway. And the House is expected to have an even colder reception to the program.

At the same time Blagojevich continues to push for his project, Senators are planning to run their own version of a budget minus universal health care. It would give a hefty increase to schools, provide for construction projects and more. But, it relies on a major expansion of gaming including several new casinos.

While the House might not go along with it most observers believe its designed mainly to give Senate Democrats political cover as the state spirals toward a possible government shutdown next month.

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