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Gov. Pritzker Visits Freeport and the Quad Cities to Highlight Transformative Education Investments in FY24 Budget

Press Release - Tuesday, June 06, 2023

The Governor's fifth balanced budget includes historic investments in early childhood and higher education

FREEPORT— Today, Governor JB Pritzker continued his state-wide tour amplifying investments in the FY24 budget with stops in Freeport and the Quad Cities. The events highlighted key investments in early childhood and higher education and reaffirmed his administration's commitment to fiscal responsibility.

The Governor began the day at Blackhawk Elementary School in Freeport, Illinois where he was joined by education and community leaders. The FY24 budget, which is the fifth balanced budget under Governor Pritzker, makes transformative investments in k-12 schools, four year and community colleges, workforce development, and efforts to fight poverty.

"Quality early learning experiences provide the foundation upon which the rest of our children's educational experiences rely," said Governor JB Pritzker. "This year's budget not only delivers the $250 million Smart Start program. It also increases K-12 education funding by almost $550 million, and begins a three-year nearly $150 million pilot program to fill teacher vacancies, plus makes additional investments in scholarships for future teachers."

"We are building a brighter future together through the historic investments in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget," said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. "This budget not only represents our values. It makes clear that in Illinois, we take care of each other. We're doing that by prioritizing pathways for the next generation to thrive from robust childcare networks to affordable, accessible college education—from cradle to career."

The FY24 budget includes the Smart Start Illinois plan, which invests funding to eliminate preschool deserts, stabilize the childcare workforce, expand early intervention, and home visiting programs, and includes funding to begin the overhaul of the childcare payment management system. Funding will also go towards creating 5,000 new preschool seats, expanding home visiting programs, and strengthening the teacher pipeline.

Along with the Smart Start Illinois Plan, the FY24 budget includes $1.6 million to launch Dolly Parton's Imagination Library statewide. This initiative includes a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth to age five, no matter a family's income.

Blackhawk Elementary School serves grade levels Pre-K through 4th with an approximate enrollment of 300 students. The Blackhawk staff includes 50 highly qualified and dedicated individuals whose common goal is student success. The building includes 19 classrooms, a multi-purpose room with stage, gym, library, computer lab, expansive playground area and multiple play structures.

The Governor continued his state-wide tour at Black Hawk College in Moline, Illinois. There, he was joined by state and local officials to highlight investments in higher education.

The FY24 budget continues to make college more affordable with historic increases in funding for public universities and financial aid. With an additional $100 million in MAP grant funding, everyone at or below the median income can attend community college for free and more students will receive more aid than ever before. To further expand college affordability, the FY24 budget also increases funding for AIM High merit-based scholarships by $15 million.

"Last month, lawmakers came together to pass our fifth balanced budget in a row. With it, we're making it possible for nearly every student from a low, moderate, or middle-income family to get a degree or a certification - tuition free and fee free," said Governor JB Pritzker. "In addition, our new state budget officially grows direct support for higher education institutions to an all-time high."

"This budget increases MAP grants for low-income college students by $100 million," said Senator Mike Halpin, (D-Rock Island). "It also increases funding for state universities, and increases our own Western Illinois University's budget by 7%. Finally, this is the largest funding increase to community colleges in more than two decades. We are making sound fiscal decisions that invest in the next generation."

"Black Hawk College has given thousands of students the advanced education they need to succeed in a modern job market, and this money is a signal of our trust that they will continue to do so," said State Rep. Gregg Johnson, (D-Rock Island). "Illinois' recent budget reflects the simple truth that community colleges are an essential building block in creating a better future for all Illinoisans. There isn't a better example of that in Illinois than Black Hawk Community College."

Operated as one college with two campuses and several outreach sites, Black Hawk College offers both career and transfer programs. The college also offers a wide range of special purpose and community outreach programs.


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