News from Senator Peter Roskam Senate Republican Whip
  315 West Wesley Street 309H State House
  Wheaton, Illinois 60187 Springfield, Illinois 62706
  630-690-4500 217/782-8022  

For Immediate Release

Date:  May 26, 2006/mkp

Senate Republican Week in Review: May 22-26

Springfield, IL – Reactions to Governor Rod Blagojevich’s latest campaign scheme, a $10 billion education funding plan, have ranged from stiff opposition to skeptical at best, according to Illinois State Senator Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton), who is unconvinced that the plan to sell off the Illinois Lottery is the most effective and responsible way to revamp the education system.

The Governor’s proposal, announced at a Chicago press conference Tuesday, includes selling the state’s annual revenue stream from the Illinois State Lottery to a private investor in return for a large up-front windfall of cash, which he estimates would total $10 billion.

However, several newspaper editorial boards have already pointed out that the Governor’s plan would leave a $2 billion-per-year hole in the budget after only four years, calling the plan a “quick infusion of money” that “spends tomorrow's revenues on today's needs.”

Senate Republicans maintain that while education funding is an issue that needs to be tackled, any proposal needs to reflect careful thought and consideration as to the feasibility of implementing such a plan and the long-term consequences that may accompany it.

Furthermore, lawmakers question why the Governor, if he is truly committed to reforming education, did not present the plan during the spring legislative session and work on a bipartisan, responsible, and effective solution.

The Senator noted that lawmakers also have cause for concern based on the Administration’s dismal track record for introducing radical ideas to raise money that ultimately fail or completely backfire. In the past three years, he has advocated doubling the number of gaming positions to generate money for schools, legalizing Keno to pay for school construction, selling the Toll Highway Authority Headquarters, the state’s main office building in Chicago, and Illinois’ 10th riverboat license , and eliminating the State Board of Education. None of those proposals have met with success.

Also worth noting, the Blagojevich Administration has an affinity for under-funding its current commitments, and stealing money that has already been designated for specific purposes. Just this week, Governor Blagojevich signed Senate Bill 1520 which authorizes him to raid another $1.1 billion from the pensions of downstate and suburban teachers, after having pilfered $1.2 billion from the same retirement systems in 2005.

Other legislation signed into law this week includes: