SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced his intention to advance the final two state aid payments to schools for the current fiscal year. Advancing the final two payments is critical for school districts around the state as they try to keep their own budgets balanced. This is the fourth consecutive year in which Governor Blagojevich advanced the school aid payments.
Before Governor Blagojevich took office, governors delayed the 23rd and 24th state aid payments until the following fiscal year. This is problematic for school districts, which budget the final two payments as part of their current fiscal year that ends June 30th. School district officials say delaying the payments until July would create a serious cash-flow problem for them.
“Ultimately, budgets are about priorities. For us, education is a top priority. That’s why we’ve advanced the school aid payments every year. It’s why we’ve invested $3.8 billion in new funding into our schools over the last four years. And it’s why we want to invest even more money in our schools going forward – and do it without raising taxes,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
The Blagojevich administration has invested $3.8 billion in K-12 education since 2003, helping school districts significantly reduce their deficits from nearly 80 percent to 42 percent. This investment represents the state’s largest four-year K-12 increase in Illinois history. It includes a 75 percent increase for preschool funding and the passage of Preschool for All, which makes Illinois the only state that will offer preschool to every three and four year old whose parents want to send them. Illinois has been recognized as one of the top-ranked states in the nation for expansion of early childhood development programs by both the National Institute for Early Childhood Education Research and Pre-K Now. Illinois also ranks 1st in the Midwest for K-12 education increases.