Governor’s budget choices don’t hold water

Obviously Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s recent line-item veto of flood relief projects in the state budget could not have come at a worse time. The day after Blagojevich deep-sixed an estimated $700,000 for flood mitigation work at the Castle Bowl drainage reservoir in Lemont and for the Village of Homer Glen, some of the worst flooding in recent memory happened, shining a very harsh light on the governor’s actions.

Let this be a lesson for Gov. Blagojevich. The terrible flooding that occurred in the Chicago area and the suburbs is evidence enough for why these projects were needed in the first place. When the governor visited flood-ravaged northern Illinois last week, his political gamesmanship suddenly seemed awkwardly out of place when compared to the very real plight of people faced with the prospect of losing their homes to a flood.

In a calculated and possibly unconstitutional end-run around the General Assembly, the governor said he intends to replace the $462 million in vetoed items with new health care expansions that will ultimately cost the state billions. The budget vetoes made by Blagojevich also beg the question: Why, if the concern is health care, did he remove nearly $100 million for nursing homes and hospitals? Why did the governor eliminate $2.2 million for new beds at a veterans hospital and reduce funding for programs for the developmentally disabled?

This is clearly not an effort to control spending, but rather a political message to the governor’s enemies including Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (House Democrats projects were conveniently removed from the budget by Blagojevich).

Please governor, stop playing politics with public safety projects and our most vulnerable citizens and reinstate funding for these needed projects.