Governor Pat Quinn says expanding Illinois' early childhood education programs should be one of the state's top priorities, but he hasn't detailed how to pay for them. Some lawmakers say Quinn's "Birth to Five'' initiative's success is tied to the ongoing tax and spend debate that's expected to dominate this year's legislative agenda.
State Senator Pam Althoff of McHenry says a decision on whether to extend the state's temporary income tax increase or let it expire as scheduled must be made before new programs are added. The state Board of Education has seen more than $800 million in school funding cuts since 2009. The board is asking for money to be restored this year. But appropriators say that they must plan for different scenarios as they begin preparing a budget.