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'Breathtaking' School Budget in Illinois

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Springfield, Ill--Gov. James R. Thompson, reacting to a $2.8-billion budget request for fiscal 1986 by Illinois's state superintendent, has called the figure "breathtaking" and said he is not convinced the state needs a tax increase to improve its public schools.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Donald G. Gill asked for $900-million in new money for education, including $134 million for "reform costs," the costs of carrying out3board policies regarding inservice training for teachers and administrators.

Increases Allocated

The budget also allocates $80 million for salary increases and $19 million for staff-development programs.

"I'm sure the politicians will be skeptical about it because it's such a dramatic figure," said Mr. Gill, who will retire in August. "They don't want to have to face these nasty problems of having to fund large amounts for education if it requires new sources of revenue. This certainly will."

'Last Resort'

But the Governor responded that he was "not yet persuaded we need a tax increase to improve our schools. That's one of the questions that will have to be answered in the next session. Education is like anything else--tax increases should be a last resort."

Governor Thompson has hinted in the past that he might support increases for education funding if reform proposals are enacted and property-tax backing of schools is diminished.

Education, the Governor said, can expect a "healthy increase" in funding next year. But he cautioned, "Whether that will satisfy the schools, or indeed even be enough, is something we don't know yet."

--Don Sevener

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