QUINCY – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today joined students at Irving Primary School in Quincy on their first day of summer school to talk about why he won’t back down from his push for an increase in state spending for public education. The Governor met twice with Legislative Leaders last week to discuss the state budget. While he reports some progress has been made, the Governor reiterated today that he will not soften his commitment to improving the state’s share of education spending.
“Over the past two weeks, I’ve met with the legislative leaders to negotiate a budget. While I’m willing to compromise on many things, I will not compromise our schools,” Governor Blagojevich said. “By saying 'no' to the special interests, closing unneeded state facilities and reducing the size of state government, we can spend more money where it’s desperately needed – in our schools.”
Under the budget passed by the state Senate and supported by the Governor, the state would increase its spending on K-12 education by $250 per student. For all the schools in Adams County combined, that would mean an additional $2 million in funding, $1.3 million of that going to Quincy Public Schools.
The increase is desperately needed by Quincy School District 172, which has been listed on the financial early warning list for the past two years. Without additional state support in Fiscal Year 2005, the district’s deficit could climb to $3.3 million.
The budget backed by the Governor also expands preschool programs for 8,000 more at-risk children across the state, and gives up 7,000 more children access to childcare. It preserves Medicaid health care programs and expands health coverage to 56,000 more working low-income parents through the Family Care program. The “no-growth” budget advanced in the Illinois House would not only prevent the Family Care expansion, it would mean that 150,000 children, seniors and families that are currently enrolled in Medicaid programs could lose their coverage. More than 800 Adams County families would be impacted.
The budget supported by Governor Blagojevich also funds vital economic development projects throughout west-central Illinois. Projects funded as part of the Governor’s Opportunity Returns program include more than $52 million for the US 34 extension, $30 million for the Illinois Route 336 Macomb western bypass and $3 million for improvements to the South Quincy Industrial Complex.
Blagojevich reiterated today that despite the budget deficit, the Legislature can balance the budget and invest in its priorities by making tough cuts in other areas – closing old prisons and moving inmates into more efficient facilities, eliminating unfair corporate tax loopholes, cutting spending by 2.25% in all areas but health and education, and streamlining state government.
Budget negotiations will resume in Springfield later this week.
“If we all work together, I’m confident we can reach consensus on a budget that is both balanced and fulfills our obligations to children and struggling families, but does not ask taxpayers to dig deeper into their pockets,” said the Governor.