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Media Statement on Governor’s Proposed Budget

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Melissa Meighen
mmeighen@voices4kids.org
(312) 516-5551

From Gaylord Gieseke, President
Voices for Illinois Children

“Governor Quinn’s budget proposal demonstrates that Illinois’ fiscal crisis is far from over and that children, families, and communities continue to pay the price for a history of unwise fiscal decisions made by our elected officials. Nearly every area of the budget that impacts children has been subject to deep cuts over the past few years.

“The Governor’s proposed cut of $309 million to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) budget, including $150 million from General State Aid, will further devastate school districts that are already under severe fiscal stress. These cuts mean that ISBE funding will be $1.1 billion below the FY 2009 level — undermining our children’s future and taking our state in the wrong direction.

“We are disappointed that that Governor’s budget includes flat funding for the Early Childhood Block Grant, rather than the $40 million increase proposed by ISBE. As a result of deep budget cuts over the past four years, more than 20,000 fewer children have access to state-funded preschool this year than in FY 2009. ISBE’s recommendation would restore access for an estimated 10,500 children.   

“All Illinois residents — including the youngest among us — are being harmed by the rapid increases in state pension costs, which will consume about one fourth of state revenue in the coming year. We agree with the Governor that addressing the pension funding crisis is an urgent matter. At the same time, even without pension changes, there is still room for choices about spending priorities. We challenge the Governor and all policymakers to make the choices that address the urgent issues facing children and families and position us well for the future.

“Beyond this coming fiscal year, the state faces fiscal disaster if current income tax rates are cut as scheduled on January 1, 2015. If income tax rates are rolled back, state revenues in FY 2015 will plunge by more than $2 billion, and the revenue loss in FY 2016 will be $4.7 billion. Meanwhile, pension costs are set to increase both years. The result would be draconian cuts to nearly all other areas of the budget, including funding for K-12 education, preschool, mental health services, and child care — or a dramatic increase in the backlog of unpaid bills.

“Our elected officials must finally enact a credible plan to address the pension funding crisis and not allow current income tax rates to expire at the end of next year.  Without doing both, our state will not be able to dig out of its deep budget hole, give all kids the opportunities they deserve, and create a brighter future for all Illinoisans.”

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