Governor Gives Nod to Special Projects Spending

Governor Gives Nod to Special Projects Spending
By: Arnold Wyrick
Back in 2002 Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich put a stop to hundreds of millions of dollars in state funded special projects approved by his predecessor Governor George Ryan. But that's all changed with the release of $194,000,000 by Governor Blagojevich this week.
One of the organizations receiving the state funds labeled 'pork barrel projects' by politicians in Springfield, is the Jackson County Ambulance Service.
"Obviously we don't consider that we are pork barrel spending, because right now we have a crew that is on concrete floors. And literally live in a space smaller then the average bedroom," says Director Dorothy Miles.
The ambulance service applied for their $50,000 grant back in 2001, and just received word from the state that the other half of the funds were in the mail. It's money they plan to use to finish an addition to their base in Murphysboro.
"By allowing us a little extra funds so that we can repair and fix those projects. That will then allow us to shuffle some of that money into upgrading some of our equipment," Miles said.
Besides the county funds the ambulance service receives they have to rely upon grants and reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid to keep things running.
"We also deal with very significant issues with our reimbursements. Right now on ambulance reimbursement a lot of times they do not even cover the cost of the equipment and drugs that we use on the call," Miles said.
Still whenever there's an emergency the ambulance crews must respond whether the person has insurance or has no medical coverage at all.
"If someone picks up the phone and dials 911 for an emergency call we are going to respond. We do not worry at that time whether or not the patient has medical insurance or not. Or if they can pay the bill. Same thing holds true when they need a higher level of medical care, they maybe transferring to Cape Girardeau or Saint Louis we respond then too."
"So whether or not there is payment that can be made, we respond to the needs of those individuals who are in our county," Miles said.
Still that can sometimes leave the service short on things they do need to handle all emergencies.
" So we not only have to worry about the base and it's upkeep, but we need to have the best medical equipment available so when we respond we can provide the best service," Miles said.
Governor Rod Blagojevich and legislators tapped into $2 billion earmarked for the state's employee pension fund to help bolster the state's budget this last spring.