Illinois may sell or lease state lottery

May 23, 2006 at 6:16 PM

CHICAGO, May 23 (UPI) -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich Tuesday proposed selling or leasing the Illinois State Lottery to raise $6 billion to repair schools, buy textbooks and fund education.

The four-year deal would bring in $1 billion in the first year and generate another $9 billion for education through a long-term lease or an initial public offering, or a combination of the two, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Some $1.5 billion would go to pay for school construction projects statewide.

The governor's plan also would consolidate school districts, increase spending for special education, improve vocational training and establish a new council to study long-term education plans.

"We want more money for schools," Blagojevich said. "The question is how do we do it? We found a creative way to do it."

Critics, including former Gov. Jim Edgar, said the proposals were an election-year ploy by the incumbent to get re-elected in November. State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, the GOP candidate for governor, called it a "big scam."

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