Addressing Education Funding Reform

February 20, 2007

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Think you're ready for a big gamble?

Well, today is the last day for companies to qualify as bidders to take over the state lottery.

Illinois could be the first state to sell off its lottery to make more money for schools. Governor Rod Blagojevich proposed the sale last summer with the pitch that it could generate up to $10 billion to help finance education.

It remains to be seen whether such bids have been made, or whether the state legislature would even approve such a sale. Critics of the plan say privatizing the lottery would be a lose-lose situation for Illinois, giving education only a temporary funding boost and eliminating the lottery as a future source of public revenue.

Meanwhile, Illinois House Republicans yesterday proposed adding gambling positions at existing casinos in order to raise money for capital construction of roads, mass transit, and schools.

And a group of Democratic lawmakers recently introduced legislation in the Illinois Senate and House that would expand income and sales tax while providing property tax relief.