SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) -
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says he has a five year plan that calls for the biggest education investment in state history at $6 billion.
Finding a way to improve education funding was a highlight of his budget address Wednesday in Springfield.
"We're also in a position to invest in our schools because the future of our economy depends on the quality of our education," Quinn said.
Governor Quinn admits for far too long, Illinois has underfunded its schools.
Right now, school districts are getting about 89-percent of the funding they should be receiving from the state.
But to reach his $6 billion goal in education funding, Quinn needs the temporary income tax hike to stay on the books permanently.
"Our schools have to have a plan for tomorrow," Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) said. "They've already had to do cuts, RIF teachers, so we have a lot of work to do."
While the governor's budget outline didn't offer a lot of specifics for education funding, there is some hope in the Senate where budget proposals show an increase in the general state aid funding formula.
"It actually goes up to 90-91 percent, so it's a small increase over next year's budget," Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville) said. "Of course, over the next several years it would ultimately get up to the funding level, the foundation level."
Senator Sullivan says if the income tax is allowed to roll back, the state will lose about $2 billion, and those funding increases won't be possible.
"We have schools that are in deficit spending and many schools that are in deficit spending now, they don't have a year or two years, certainly not six years. We've got to do something right now," Rep. Hammond said.
Lawmakers will also be crafting a budget that will not include any savings from pension reform until a court challenge is resolved.
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