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Budget Report: Funding Shifts Mean Dollars and Jobs for Illinois

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 By Mary KuhlmanContact
May 26, 2009

Chicago, IL – It's money that cash-strapped Illinois could use. A new line-item comparison of the 2008 federal budget with President Obama's recently proposed 2010 budget shows big changes - including increases in renewable energy - and that means real cash for states.

According to numbers from the National Priorities Project (NPP), Illinois will see significant increases in funding for renewable energy research, development and technology, NPP senior research associate Barb Chalfonte says.

"We see quite dramatic changes. The state energy programs line item for emerging technology goes from $1.5 million to $51.8 million."

Chalfonte says more renewable energy spending would lead to new jobs. In fact, the Department of Labor is set to receive $28 million to help states train workers for those green-economy jobs. Illinois is also set to receive much more money for weatherization – close to $135 million, which will go toward helping those on the lower-end of the income scale outfit their homes to use less energy. Critics of President Obama's budget are concerned about how it increases the federal deficit.

The study shows less federal funding for education, but Chalfonte explains that is actually good news.

"One of the things we've seen is the elimination of subsidies to lenders, which means that more money will go directly to the people who need it, who are the students."

The study also found slowed military spending in the President's plan, although it still claims 20 percent of overall spending and does include increased salary and benefits for armed forces personnel.

Chalfonte says while the big numbers in the federal budget can be hard to fathom, she thinks it is important for everyone to take a look at them because they're a blueprint for what's important to Americans.

"One of the things we want to think about when looking at a budget isn't just the numbers, but the fact that it's really a document that expresses our national values."

State-by-state analyses are available at www.nationalpriorities.org.

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