While the governor and his opponent debate what future state budgets should look like, a group that advocates for children says the current budget is no good. The Fiscal Year 2015 budget allocates $300 million to early childhood education – the same as last year, but down from $379 million in 2009.
What’s needed? “We’ve run the numbers based on taking the funding level from 2009 and adjusting that for inflation. We would now need to be roughly at $418 million to have just kept pace with where we were in 2009,” says David Lloyd, director of the Fiscal Policy Center for the group Voices for Illinois Children.
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That failure to keep pace means that while 100,000 3- and 4-year-olds could attend pre-school in 2009, that number is now 78,000.
Early childhood education has traditionally been a strength of Illinois vs. other states.
The group also objects to the funding of elementary and secondary education. The Education Funding Advisory Board recommended state funding of $8,767 for the 2014-15 school year. The General Assembly came in at a $6,100 “foundation level,” and is actually funding only 89 percent of that. Bringing everything up to the recommended level would cost $5 billion, Lloyd says.