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Quinn touts programs for young children

Gov. Pat Quinn visited an Avondale elementary school on Thursday to tout his latest plan for education spending, including big bucks for programs for children age five and younger.Hobnobbing with second graders at Carl von Linné Elementary School who asked him to sign their copies of “What Does the Governor Do?” Quinn said an added $6 billion in education spending including $1.5 billion on children five and under.

Quinn’s office said he’ll spend an added $100 million in the next fiscal year — the bulk of it — or $69 million for licensed child care. He also proposed $25 million in block grants for early education, $5 million in early intervention and $1 million in prenatal care.

He’d add another $100 million each subsequent year to total $1.5 billion over five years for the Birth to Five Initiative he laid out in January.

“We have to put our money where our mouth is in the state of Illinois,” the governor said in the school’s library. “If you’re pro-job, you’ve got to be pro-education, and you can’t do it on the cheap.”

Quinn said he’d pay for the school spending with tax money generated should a temporary income tax hike become permanent.

Awaiting his arrival outside of the school was a costumed mascot called “Quinnocchio,” long nose and all, sent by Republican challenger Bruce Rauner, who denounced the governor as a liar.

Asked about the mascot, Quinn said: “I haven’t had a chance to interact with that person. I would say this though, that anybody who proclaims himself to be an advocate of educational excellence but wants to starve our schools and cut their budget by 20 percent, that doesn’t add up.

“Even these boys and girls know that.”