Statement of State Superintendent of Education Respicio F. Vazquez
Regarding Governor George Ryan's Proposed Budget


May 27, 2002
FOR INFORMATION: 217/782-4648

"The State Board of Education's own proposed budget for FY 03 was submitted last January and called for an increase in spending over the previous year. That proposal was made based on the best information available at the time. The situation has, of course, changed and our state faces a difficult financial situation.

"Our original budget was organized around the idea that three great challenges - three great gaps - face public education in Illinois: the achievement gap, the teacher gap and the funding gap. The Board has felt that whatever final funding level is agreed to, the goals of the budget should be to target state funds to priority areas that address these gaps.

"Since the depth of the state's fiscal crisis has become clear, it has been the State Board's goal to work with its many partners in education to help arrive at a spending plan that allocates limited dollars in the way that will most effectively help school districts educate our children.

"The Board feels that, in the overall context of reduced state spending, the budget proposed today by Governor Ryan treats K-12 education fairly. Additionally and importantly, it maintains funding for critical programs that address the three gaps and it provides funding to continue the school construction program.

"Specifically, in addressing the achievement gap, the Board has placed particular emphasis on standards, assessment and accountability, on reading, on math, on the Summer Bridges Program, and on providing support for districts with schools on the Academic Early Warning List. All these vital programs are retained in this proposed budget at somewhat reduced funding levels.

"Regarding the funding gap, although General State Aid has been reduced, the foundation level remains the same as last year, hold harmless is continued and mandated categoricals are funded at the 90 per cent level - above where they were before the state started fully funding them under the Ryan administration.

"As to the teacher gap, "startup" funding has been found to begin important teacher quality and quantity programs that the Board has long supported and which were given momentum by the Governor's recent teacher summit.

"Reductions in spending in many worthy and effective programs are difficult to accept. Overall, however, no programs have been eliminated, the basic structure of our proposed budget has been retained and a serious effort has been made to spread the "pain" of reduced spending fairly among school districts. The Board looks forward in the next days to working with the Governor and the General Assembly to arrive at a final spending plan for FY 2003."

Governor Ryan's Proposed FY03 Budget