SPRINGFIELD – In a letter to President George W. Bush, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today expressed serious concerns over proposed federal funding cuts for education in the United States. The Governor’s letter is in response to specifics in the President’s proposed federal budget that would eliminate proven, successful education programs that serve those most at risk.
“Investing in education in Illinois is one of my top priorities. I have fought hard for a historic increase in education funding over the last two years, despite record budget deficits. The federal government’s investment in Illinois children has lagged far behind, despite new and costly federal requirements on local schools,” wrote the Governor.
The Governor has fought for $1 billion in new state funding for education in Illinois in the last two years, despite budget deficits totaling more than $7 billion over the same period.
Gov. Blagojevich asked the President to reconsider its proposed funding cuts, which in Illinois would mean:
l elimination of Even Start programs, which serve 2,559 low income families in Illinois with early childhood, adult and parent education with parent and child literacy activities;
l elimination of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities programs;
l elimination of Vocational and Tech-Prep Education Grants, displacing 625,000 students in 651 sites state-wide; and
l elimination of GEAR UP, Talent Search and Upward Bound programs to encourage at-risk students to discover the possibility of higher education.
“It is not right to reduce the federal government’s share of the financial burden for education and at the same time increase the United States Department of Education’s policy-making authority and testing requirements for schools,” the Governor said.
“The federal government’s investment in Illinois children has lagged far behind, despite new and costly federal requirements on local schools. Now, I am deeply concerned with the overall proposed cut of over $13 million to Illinois education funding. Please do not stop the progress we have made for education in Illinois. We must keep the momentum going and continue to improve students’ achievement in education. Please reconsider your proposed budget cuts,” the Governor wrote in closing.