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Governor asks lawmakers to make choice: schools vs. prisons     Send a link to a friend

[MAY 19, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Because members of the General Assembly face critical choices in the days ahead, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Senate President Emil Jones and other legislators urged their colleagues to choose building schools over keeping prisons open and saving corporate loopholes. The governor and lawmakers reacted to published criticisms Tuesday against funding for the Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy on Chicago's south side.

"On the very day we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education, we find it galling that anyone would label the construction of a high-quality school for students from a primarily African-American neighborhood as 'pork,'" Gov. Blagojevich said.

In the 1990s, Chicago Public Schools decided to build two college preparatory academies: one on the city's north side and one on the south side. The North Side College Prep opened in 1999 but the Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep Academy remains incomplete.

Funding Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep Academy is among the top education priorities for Gov. Blagojevich, Senate President Jones and Chicago Public Schools. In fact, Chicago Public Schools announced Tuesday that $20 million will be invested in Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep over the next two years.

"What we have seen occur today is the coming together of people for the education of our children. I have worked funding for the Gwendolyn Brooks Prep School for several years. Months ago, when the governor announced his plan to do a school construction bill, I discussed this issue with him. He saw the importance of it and the groundwork was put in place for this effort to go forward," said Senate President Emil Jones.

 

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The governor urged lawmakers to dedicate the state's limited resources to funding schools instead of trying to keep corporate loopholes on the tax books or maintaining prisons the state doesn't need.

"We can either start closing corporate loopholes that allow the wealthy to avoid paying sales taxes on yachts, or we can provide health care to an additional 56,000 children and working parents who would otherwise go without. Our hopes versus our fears. Prisons or schools. Yachts or health care. This budget is more than just a budget. It's a question of our values, our priorities and our beliefs. The choices we face over the next several weeks represent nothing less," Gov. Blagojevich said.

[News release from the governor's office]

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