Illinois Spending Remains in Flux
State lawmakers in Illinois recently approved a fiscal 2009 budget that would provide hundreds of millions of dollars more for schools—though it appears their work in crafting a spending plan is not yet complete.
The budget approved by the legislature would increase the overall budget for schools to $7.6 billion in the coming fiscal year, up from $7.1 billion, according to estimates from the state’s board of education. It would raise per-pupil spending to $5,959, a 4 percent increase.
The plan was approved near the conclusion of the lawmaking session at the end of May, during which observers said few major education-related measures were considered.
The approved budget leaves the state with a shortfall of more than $2 billion, according to the office of Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Late last week, the governor, a Democrat, had arranged to meet with legislative leaders to discuss options for making up that shortfall, said Kelley Quinn, a spokeswoman for his office of management and budget.
The governor and the Democratic-controlled legislature have had a fractious relationship in recent years. That was evident during the 2007 legislative session, when the fiscal 2008 budget was approved only after a protracted delay, in January of this year.
Mr. Blagojevich has proposed a $34 billion, multiyear capital-construction program, which would have devoted more than $4 billion to school construction and maintenance, Ms. Quinn said. He suggested paying for that plan through a partial leasing of Illinois’ state-owned lottery, and an expansion of gambling, among other sources.
But that plan was not supported by the lawmakers. The governor will continue to push his capital plan, which he believes will create jobs and provide districts with vital funds to replace and repair dilapidated schools, Ms. Quinn said.
Vol. 27, Issue 41, Page 15