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January 4, 2008

Gov. Blagojevich takes action to give schools a $560 million state funding increase
Governor uses amendatory veto to correct problem in BIMP bill and give school districts immediate reimbursement for special education staff

CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today took action on a Budget Implementation Bill (BIMP) that will give Illinois schools a $560 million increase in state funding.  Senate Bill 783, the BIMP for Fiscal Year 2008, provides a record amount of funding for school districts throughout Illinois.  With this year’s increase, the FY08 appropriation is the largest total annual investment in education in state history.
“Investing in our children’s futures benefits everyone. This BIMP bill will increase the state’s commitment to Illinois children and make sure they have greater access to things like high quality teachers, new textbooks, music programs, quality special education programs and after-school programs that are all valuable to learning.  I hope the legislature will accept the technical changes we’ve made when they convene next week so schools can begin collecting the special education funding that’s critical to meeting their students’ needs,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The Governor used his amendatory veto power to get school districts quicker access to additional funding for special education staff. This is the first time since 1985 that districts will receive a higher rate to help cover special education staff salaries.
Under the BIMP bill, districts will get an additional $1,000 for each certified teacher and $700 for each non-certified staff member. Because of a drafting error, districts were not scheduled to begin receiving that money until FY 2009. If accepted by state lawmakers, Gov. Blagojevich’s amendatory veto means districts will get that money beginning in the next few weeks.
“We are pleased that the Governor was willing to consider and fix what we believe is a technical glitch in the fiscal years for special education reimbursements,” said Brent Clark, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Administrators. “This is their first increase in the reimbursement rate since 1985 and is a top legislative priority for our association.”
“The Governor’s signing of the amendatory veto will allow school districts across Illinois to receive the first increase in the special education personnel reimbursement in over 20 years.  School districts will greatly appreciate the additional reimbursement anticipated this year and continue to look forward to increased personnel reimbursements in future years to address the rising costs of educating students,” said Judy Hackett, President of Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education.
Under the legislation, the state’s Foundation Level will increase by $400 to $5,734 per student.  By approving that increase to the Foundation Level, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) estimates that 816 districts will see an increase in their General State Aid to Schools (GSA) payments from what they are currently receiving. 
“On behalf of school administrators throughout Illinois, I want to thank Gov. Blagojevich and the members of the General Assembly for their work to ensure that schools are getting all of the funding due to them under the FY 2008 budget,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. 
The Governor also issued an amendatory veto to correct an error in the state’s Road Fund cap.
As written, the BIMP bill extends the cap on funding the Illinois State Police (ISP) can use from the Road Fund to $97 million. With only a $97 million extension, the state police could not spend all the money appropriated to them, which would impact staffing.  The Governor’s amendatory veto will extend the cap to $106.1 million, consistent with the spending authority given to the agency in the budget passed by the General Assembly.  With the correction, ISP will have the funds needed to maintain existing frontline police levels.
“The Governor’s amendatory veto will correct an oversight in the BIMP bill that could have had a very serious and detrimental impact on public safety in Illinois.  Making sure the State Police’s spending authority matches its appropriation means we can cover our costs, meet our contract agreements and keep troopers on the frontlines,” said ISP Dir. Larry Trent.
Senate Bill 783 goes into effect immediately upon General Assembly acceptance of the Governor’s Amendatory Veto.


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