May 25, 2006

Illinois School Spending Plan: Not Reform

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, has announced a plan to sell or lease the state's lottery in order to increase funding for schools. The Governor anticipates this would result in a one time windfall of $10 billion:
Under the governor's plan, $6 billion from the proceeds of any lottery deal would be set aside in a long-term trust fund and the remaining $4 billion would be mixed with other state money to provide $6 billion to schools over four years. The school construction money would come from bonds.
The Governor's plan is nothing more than a one time gimmick for a long-term problem. The plan provides revenue for four years, but what about year five and beyond? The Governor instead should be focusing on long-term solutions for increasing school funding.

Such a long-term solution will require meaningful tax reform. Currently Illinois' tax system results in a structural deficit-- that is, the taxes coming in are not enough to fund existing spending needs. Adequate long-term funding for public schools can only be achieved through a complete overhaul of the current tax system; reform that will bring in additional revenues and resolve the structural deficit issue. One group that has been championing such reform is the Center on Tax and Budget Accountability out of Chicago. You can find their plan, SB750, here. Illinois' public schools deserve dedicated, long-term, adequate funding, not gimmicks.


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