Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Blagojevich's goes to a senior center today

On the north side where he attempted to garner support for his amendatory veto to allow for free transit ride for seniors. The Capitol Fax has some audio from this town hall meeting today but we'll take some excerpts from Clout Street...
Gov. Rod Blagojevich today offered a message to seniors skeptical of his plan to give them free transit cards: "just hold your nose and take a bus for free."

The governor's suggestion came at a town hall meeting with North Side seniors as he sought to build support for his much-debated, last-minute idea to give seniors free bus and train rides as part of a package to fund the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra and Pace.

Microphone in hand, Blagojevich told them he was simply trying to "sweeten" a bill that includes a sales tax increase that he has long opposed but is now willing to go along with. The tax increase would fund beleaguered mass transit agencies and head off service cuts and fare increases set for Sunday.

While most seniors expressed appreciation for the plan, some questioned the governor on why they should get free rides rather than low-income people.

Public transportation, in a perfect world, should be available to everybody, the governor said.

"I hear you, but it's not so bad," Blagojevich told one senior who persistently asked about why the poor are not getting free rides. "Just hold your nose and take a bus for free."

That comment, which came toward the end of the session, drew laughs from some in the audience.

Blagojevich said he would like to offer reduced or free rides to the poor, but figuring out who qualifies for such a break would be bureaucratically complicated.

The governor said he believed his amendatory veto of the sales tax bill would be upheld when lawmakers convened Thursday in Springfield. But he urged seniors to call their legislators to lobby for his changes to be accepted.

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