Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Blago's Four Year Education funding plan

Governor Blagojevich and other education leaders will make a major education announcement this afternoon at 1:30 pm at Robert Healy Elementary School, 3040 S. Parnell.

Of course, this is the much heralded four year funding plan for public schools whose adoption by the Governor persuaded Rev. Meeks to drop his third party run for Governor last Friday.

I have predicted that a long term lease of the State tollway system is a possible revenue source for the Plan, but have been told by a source claiming to be familiar with the Plan that tollways are not involved. Assuming my source is reliable, that points us in the direction of sales of other state assets, e.g., the sale of the State’s student loan portfolio or capitalization of future state income flows [as in auctioning off the right to run the state lottery]. My sources declined to comment on whether these revenue sources are part of the Plan. Rev. Meeks, at his press conference last Friday, made it clear that Gov. Blagojevich does not intend to break his pledge not to increase the state sales or income tax. Further, Blagojevich has already raised various state fees and tried to “sweep,” various funds that are thought to be off-limits for this revenue enhancing effort.

Thus, the Plan probably provides for some capitalization of future state income flows. I am estimating at least a billion dollars per year gets pumped into the CPS, with some additional Plan dollars going to improve schools in other low income areas in other parts of the state.

The interesting part of the Funding Plan announcement game show is the rumor going around that the Plan will include school vouchers/school choice or a pilot program for same. I don’t think it will but a person who has spent some time during the last week discussing vouchers with Rev. Meeks disagrees with me. Much more on the voucher story in a post on this blog later today.