In January, Gov.
Blagojevich proposed sweeping reforms to overhaul the education
bureaucracy in Illinois and bring more accountability to the system
by creating a Department of Education that reports directly to the
governor. In his budget address Wednesday, the governor outlined his
plan to invest an additional $400 million in K-12 education in
fiscal 2005 -- the governor's second major increase in as many years
despite historic deficit levels.
In fact, in the first
two years of his administration, despite facing a total deficit of
$6.7 billion, the state will have invested $800 million in new
spending for education, if the legislature accepts the governor's
budget. Under Blagojevich, these two years of new education funding
amount to more than the entire term of George Ryan and double the
entire first term of Jim Edgar. During times of deficit under Gov.
Edgar, in fiscal '92 and '93, education
spending was reduced by $5.4 million; and under Gov. Ryan, in fiscal
'02 and '03, $161.3 million was invested in education.
Blagojevich said that
the only way the state can pay for his proposed $400 million
increase for schools is if lawmakers agree to close corporate
loopholes that allow 1 percent of Illinois businesses to avoid
paying taxes in Illinois. In 2000, 2001 and 2002, 40 Fortune 100
companies who do business in Illinois successfully avoided paying
income taxes in Illinois.
"We have to choose
whether we want to help our schools or whether we want to keep
loopholes on the books -- loopholes that allow corporations to hide
their assets in places like Bermuda or the Cayman Islands and avoid
paying their fair share, and loopholes that allow people buying
yachts to avoid paying sales taxes. It's yachts or schools. I choose
schools," Blagojevich said.
The governor said
that investing more money in schools goes hand in hand with
reforming the education bureaucracy in Springfield. Blagojevich is
asking the legislature to approve a proposal to shift responsibility
for managing the state's schools away from the Illinois State Board
of Education to a new Department of Education that will be directly
accountable to the governor and lawmakers, a proposal supported by
Duncan at the press conference Thursday.
"While Illinois still
has a long way to go before the state is truly meeting its
responsibility to kids, our schoolchildren are doing much better
under the current governor than under any other recent governor in
this state," Duncan said. "For that reason, I support the governor's
push for greater accountability. He is accountable to the people of
Illinois, and he should be in a position to hold school districts
across Illinois accountable for the quality of education. He has
earned this right, and he should either control ISBE or he should do
away with it."
accountability, our schools won't improve. Otherwise, it's like
pumping gas into a car with a broken fuel pump. You can pump all the
gas you want, but unless you fix the fuel pump, the car still isn't
going to run," Blagojevich said.
ranks 16th in the nation in total-per-pupil spending but only 40th
in the nation when it comes to how much of that money is actually
invested in the classroom, with only 46 cents of every education
dollar used for classroom instruction. The governor's primary goals
for the new agency are to reduce bureaucratic red tape that siphons
energy and resources away from instruction and to develop strategies
to help schools districts save money on supplies and services so
more money can be directed to classrooms.
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In addition to
proposing $400 million in new funding for education, the governor's
budget proposal includes:
--No increase in the
--No increase in the
--Reducing the size
of the state work force to the lowest level in 30 years.
--Offering a targeted
early retirement initiative for 2,000 employees in administrative,
care spending by $650 million, including funding to help provide
health insurance to 65,000 children and 300,000 working parents.
offices and agencies, including merging the Departments of
Insurance, Professional Regulation, Banks and Real Estate, and
Financial Institutions into one new Department of Financial and
Illinois State Police to move officers from behind desks onto the
front lines, adding 400 new officers over the next four years, and
providing new technology, training and equipment for public safety.
Governor's Opportunity Returns initiative -- regional plans targeted
at promoting job growth.
--Changing the MAP
grant formula, which provides financial assistance for students to
pay for college, so that 1,000 more students will be eligible for
service providers who receive state grants to start accounting for
how they spend state money.
loopholes that allow major corporations to hide their income and
major structural reforms to help the state get its fiscal house in
Requiring all new spending considered by the General Assembly to
identify new revenues or spending cuts to pay for it, so that the
state stops spending more money than it has.
Requiring every state agency to submit monthly spending plans and
quarterly budgets, so that budgets reflect real life and not just
Requiring all state agencies to set aside 2 percent of their budget
Requiring the state to pay its bills within 60 days and create a
revolving line of credit to reduce interest costs.
5. Requiring that every
billion-dollar increase in the state budget be accompanied by a new
$50 million investment in the Rainy Day Fund.
[News release from the