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What builds a strong Illinois? Education is a keystone to our economic development. Gov. Rod Blagojevich's proposal on early childhood education is one good step. Another is more dollars for our state universities.

In the governor's budget proposal are serious capital dollars for Illinois State University - $22 million. For too long our state campuses have been ignored. We need dollars, not just for new buildings, but to maintain accessible, public education. It wasn't that long ago that a good student from a working family went to ISU with their tuition paid, only having to cover their room and board and books.

Every political figure likes to embrace children and education. Too often this means mandates on local school systems and no new dollars. Or there is a "local is best" attitude, which allows prosperous areas to maintain first-class schools, while lower income areas suffer.

We need comprehensive education programs that give our young people a leg up, no matter their neighborhood and family financial status, and a state with open doors for willing students in higher education. An educated population will help us maintain global competitiveness and our financial status.

I hope McLean County residents will encourage our legislators to back the governor and ensure our young people are receiving a high-quality education.

Danny Craig

Rural LeRoy

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