More legal trouble for Gov. Blagojevich

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Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s name is back in court, this time connected to state funding for education.

The nonprofit Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI) today asked the Cook County Circuit Court to order Blagojevich to reconvene the Illinois Education Funding Advisory Board. The five-member, nonpartisan panel recommends minimum per-pupil funding levels for education for lawmakers’ consideration.

The panel, which is down two members due to resignations, has not issued an updated funding figure since 2005. The figure was last set at $6,405. State law says the group should meet every two years and adjust the minimum threshold, but the governor has not called the panel into action—despite the urging by funding activists like A+ Illinois.

This fiscal year, the General Assembly set the foundation level—or minimum per-pupil spending level that the state ensures each district gets—at $5,959. BPI officials say the advisory board’s figure would be set at nearly $7,400 for fiscal year 2010, just based on inflation.

Read the BPI press release here, complete with links to the legal complaint and an informational sheet on the issue.

The timing of the lawsuit, which piggybacks the governor’s impeachment travails, should help BPI maximize press coverage. Depending on how you measure it, Illinois ranks dead last among the states in state support for education spending.