Under governor's budget, per student aid increases by $250, proposal includes new funding for pre-school, teacher scholarships, parent participation,
proposal also continues $87.5 million in new funding for categorical grants
CHICAGO – Governor Rod Blagojevich today stood with education leaders to call on the Illinois General Assembly to pass his K-12 education funding plan, which would boost funding to school districts by $207 million statewide, increase both Early Childhood Education dollars and the foundation levels in General State Aid (GSA), and hold any school district harmless that stands to lose dollars in FY 04.
Blagojevich said that if the state does not increase student aid funding for K-12 students, Illinois public schools would lose $77 million in FY04. This is due primarily to new calculations in the state aid formula, which are determined by law. The state aid formula is calculated annually (based in part on U.S. Census data) and can result in increases or decreases in funding to school districts based on factors such as enrollment numbers, property valuations or declines in the percentage of children under the poverty line. FY 04 is the first year in which new 2000 Census numbers are being used in the state aid formula, and since new data shows that there are fewer children living under the poverty line in Illinois, school districts are losing dollars in their poverty grants.
“At a time when states across the nation are drastically cutting funding for schools – and at a time when our own state faces a $5 billion budget crisis – our budget increases school funding by $248 million,” Blagojevich said.
Under the Governor’s proposed budget, 680 school districts across the state will receive $264.2 million in new dollars, with the remaining 213 districts receiving $16.1 million in transitional funding to cover any reductions in state aid. The Governor will use funds dedicated for member initiative projects to pay for the K-12 transitional dollars.
The Governor’s K-12 education plan increases funding for public schools on several fronts.
GENERAL STUDENT AID:
- WITH the Governor’s increase of $250 per-student in the foundation level for General State Aid, school districts will gain $207 million in new funding. This increase to GSA is the larger than the increases of the last three years combined. The Education Funding Advisory Board has recommended that the GSA formula be increased by $1,100 per pupil in order to provide all Illinois students with a quality education. The Governor’s budget places Illinois on the path to achieve the recommended $1,100 increase within four years.
WITHOUT the Governor’s increase, schools would lose $77 million in FY04 as a result of changes in the state aid formula.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION:
- WITH the Governor’s increase for Early Childhood Education, school districts will receive $29.9 million in new funding after receiving no new dollars in FY 03.
“Our budget also invests nearly $30 million for pre-school for at risk children. Not a single penny in new funding was allocated for pre-school for at-risk children last year, even though we didn’t face the kind of budget crisis that’s staring us in the face right now. As far as I’m concerned, the mismanagement and waste of the past should not be an excuse to deprive the children who need it most a shot at a decent education,” Blagojevich said.
- WITH the Governor’s increase in Bilingual Education, schools districts will receive $2.2 million in new funding, after receiving a cut in funding in FY 03.
- The Governor will fund new teacher scholarships at $4.1 million to provide incentives to college graduates to teach in underserved school districts in Illinois.
- WITH the Governor’s increase in Mandated Categorical Grants, schools districts will receive $87.5 million in new funding. This ensures that school districts receive reimbursement for special education and transporting students at the same rate they receive in the current year.
- WITHOUT the Governor’s increase – NO NEW INCREASES IN FY 04. School districts would be reimbursed by the state at a lower rate than they are currently receiving for services that they are required by federal and state law to provide. This means more of the costs of special education and transportation would have to be borne by the local districts. Already, local districts spend $1 billion annually to fund these services.
- The Governor’s proposal consolidates 24 Discretionary Categorical Grants so that local schools, rather then Springfield bureaucrats, have more control over how to spend these dollars. The dollars from these grants will be reallocated into the GSA and provided to schools through the $250 per-pupil increase. The Governor’s proposal also maintains 16 of these grants programs, totaling over $550 million.
IMPROVING PARENT-TEACHER COMMUNICATION:
- The Governor’s budget also proposes to develop a technology system to allow parents to monitor their children’s school performance. Through this system, parents would be able to access information regarding academic performance, attendance, classroom activities and homework assignments. A web resource for parents is one way the Governor hopes to increase parental involvement. Additional “common senses” resources for teachers he is proposing includes the creation of a voicemail system that would allow parents to contact teachers with concerns, comments or questions.
HOLDING SCHOOLS HARMLESS:
- WITH the Governor’s transitional dollars for schools districts that stand to lose state aid dollars or those that do not rely on the general state aid formula – every school will receive increases in FY 04 or will have their overall funding maintained at the current level.
Changes in the funding levels to school districts are based on annual calculations that affect their state aid funding by accounting for decreases in the number of children under the poverty line, increases in property valuations or decreases in enrollment. However, the Governor’s plan will provide transitional funding for every school district that stands to lose state funding so that they will not lose any dollars in FY 04.
HOW ILLINOIS REGIONS FARE UNDER THE GOVERNOR’S BUDGET:
Chicago schools will gain $50.1 million
Cook County suburban schools will gain $53.8 million
Collar County schools will gain $58.2 million
Rockford area schools will gain $19.6 million
Western Illinois area schools, including the Quad Cities/Rock Island area, will gain $2.6
Metro East area schools will gain $8.6 million
Central Illinois area schools, including Peoria, Decatur, Springfield and Champaign, will gain $10.8 million
Downstate area schools, including Carbondale and Mount Vernon will gain $3.5 million
HOW OTHER STATES ARE CUTTING FUNDING FOR K-12 EDUCATION:
States throughout the country are facing deficits not unlike Illinois’ and have chosen to make several cuts in key areas of education and health care to reduce their deficits. The Governor’s budget includes fiscally sound budget choices that provide both real fiscal relief and long-term investment in K-12 education. While many state chose to cut K-12 education, Governor Blagojevich kept his commitment to strengthen and increase funding for public school.
For example, New York’s budget would cut kindergarten through 12th grade spending by $1.2 billion, health care by $1.2 billion and higher education by nearly $600 million. In California, the budget would trim K-12 education funding by $1 billion, health care by $1.1 billion and higher education by $850 million, while increasing the sales and income taxes. In Washington State, the budget would cut K-12 education by $433 million and health care by $328 million.
“Slashing education funding and other core areas should not be options,” Blagojevich said. “Those are the old ways of doing business and I refuse to submit to those tired, old ways of solving our problems. I will not compromise funding for our public schools in our budget.”
In addition to the Governor’s vow to veto any budget that does not include new K-12 education funding, it must also contain five clear principles in order for him to sign it into law. These five principles include:
· No increase in the income or sales tax. The Governor’s budget solves the state’s $5 billion fiscal crisis without an increase in the income or sales tax. Other states in similar situations, including New York and California, have proposed increases in the income
and sales taxes. Blagojevich has said that no matter how attractive the option of raising taxes appears to the legislature, he will veto any budget that proposes an income or sales tax increase.
· More money for schools, healthcare and public safety. In addition to the $248 million in support for school districts, the Governor’s budget also proposes new investments in healthcare -- bringing down the price of prescription drugs for senior citizens and helping working families receive health care – and public safety, meaning more parole officers, a crackdown on club drugs, lifetime parole for sex offenders, and new counter-terrorism programs. Blagojevich has vowed to veto any budget that does not increase funding for education, healthcare and public safety.
· Cutting waste and inefficiency. Blagojevich’s budget cuts over $1.3 billion in waste and inefficiency, offers the leanest workforce since 1983, streamlines government by consolidating agencies, boards and commissions, and eliminates unnecessary capital spending.
· Solving the fiscal crisis by making desperately needed long-term, structural changes. Illinois has been plagued by mismanagement and shoddy accounting for far too long. The Governor requires agencies to conduct cost-benefit analyses before spending taxpayer dollars, sets aside a 2% reserve and allocates budgets to four quarters in case future cuts prove necessary, pays the state’s overdue bills, and provides an honest accounting of Medicaid spending for the first time in several years.
· Make a down payment on a rainy day fund. Blagojevich’s proposed budget also makes a $50 million down payment on a rainy day fund. The Governor has argued that even in tough fiscal times, putting aside funds for emergencies is an essential management discipline to prepare for future economic downturns.