Use Lottery Profits To Boost School Aid, Edgar Proposes
Gov. Jim Edgar of Illinois has proposed to use an anticipated increase in profits from the state lottery to fund a $30-million increase in state aid for public schools.
In presenting his $13.4-billion budget plan for 1993 to lawmakers this month, Mr. Edgar also said that new money for elementary and secondary education will have to be obtained by making deep cuts in funding for other state programs.
"Once again, you and I must agree on priorities,'' he said. "And if we agree, as we did last year, that education programs as well as programs for disadvantaged children and the neediest of our citizens deserve to be priorities, we must make cuts elsewhere.''
Mr. Edgar's proposed budget also includes a $76-million increase for the department of children and family services, to allow it to respond more effectively to cases of child abuse and neglect, and an additional $29 million for an initiative designed to improve access to primary and preventive health care for impoverished mothers and children.
Mr. Edgar flatly rejected proposals to raise income taxes or sales taxes, instead calling for cuts in the state bureaucracy to bring the budget into balance. State agencies that do not provide what the Governor described as essential human services would be cut by an average of 12 percent.
The Governor also suggested dropping at least 38,400 "able-bodied'' adults from a state assistance program and called for an end to a program that gives municipalities a share of state revenues from an income-tax surcharge.
To generate additional revenue, Mr. Edgar proposed charging fees at state parks and increasing taxes on alcohol and tobacco products.
The Republican Governor's calls for social-service cuts almost immediately came under attack from the Democrats who control both legislative chambers.
Education officials, meanwhile, complained that Mr. Edgar's proposed budget includes no new funding for higher education and restores just half of the money for public education cut from the budget in January, when the legislature held an emergency session to deal with a $330-million deficit.
Superintendent of Education Robert Leininger issued a press release saying he was "appreciative'' of the $30-million increase in funding for elementary and secondary schools, especially given the state's financial hardship.
"But,'' he added, "the lack of state funds still shortchanges our kids and our future by leaving the critical needs of schools unmet.''
Vol. 11, Issue 31, Page 25