AVONDALE — Gov. Pat Quinn visited Carl Von Linne Elementary School Thursday afternoon to make his case for continuing a 2011 income tax hike, outlining programs that would be funded by additional education spending over the next five years.
"Everybody has that ability to excel, and we have to make sure that we take the talent that we have in our state — all of these energetic enthusiastic boys and girls — and make sure that they can realize their hopes and dreams," Quinn said to assembled students and members of the media in the Linne Elementary Library.
When he released his budget for the 2015 fiscal year Wednesday, Quinn warned that repealing the tax increase would result in major cuts in education and social services.
Quinn said his fiscal plan would increase education spending by $6 billion over the next five years, including $1.5 billion for early education, such as expanded access to prenatal care and "strong parent support" during a child's early years.
That $6 billion figure also includes doubling the Monetary Assistance Program, which help students pay for college, as well as an expansion of dual-enrollment and early college programs.
"We are going to invest in education like never before," he said. "We've got to make sure in Illinois that we have the best education in the world."
Quinn's opponent, Bruce Rauner, has criticized keeping the 2 percentage point tax increase, reportedly calling it a "doubling down on his failed policies."
On his way to the press conference, Quinn stopped in Gaby Franco's second-grade classroom to sign copies of What Does a Governor Do?, which the students read in preparation for the governor's visit.
"I think it was cool 'cause Gov. Pat Quinn runs Illinois," DeShun Jackson said of Quinn's visit as he showed off his signed book.
After the event, principal Renee Mackin said she was happy to host the governor's visit, adding that she would love to see more funding for education.
"We had a great time," she said."He invited all the kids to the mansion and had lunch with them, and we're really excited that he is ready to invest our children's future."