Thompson speaks at city fundraiser

By Katrina Kelly

Gov. James Thompson renewed relationships with local politicians and spoke about his day-old proposed state budget Thursday night during a one-hour appearance at a DeKalb Republican party fundraiser.

Thompson stood several inches taller than the group of about 250 supporters, as photographers snapped shots of the governor with local politicians and several students in a banquet room at Matthew Boone’s Restaurant and Lounge, 122 S. First St.

The walls were dotted with red, white and blue signs declaring “Jim Thompson: Leadership Into the ‘90s,” encouraging speculation about a possible bid for an unprecedented fifth term as Illinois governor next year.

“We need to plan today for the governor of tomorrow,” he said to a cheering audience, “even if I’m that governor.”

The governor’s 25-minute address to the crowd included several statements about his $21.8 billion proposed budget, which he unveiled to the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday.

“It doesn’t contain everything I’d like,” he said, “but it’s a darn good budget.”

Thompson said his proposed budget, 27 percent of which is slated for education, leads Illinois “several steps down the road” to educational growth.

“The real questions are ‘Why have we tumbled so low?’ and ‘What are other countries doing better than us?'” Thompson asked.

The 37th governor of Illinois appeared relaxed as he spoke to the crowd, holding a microphone in his right hand while placing his other hand into the pocket of his gray striped suit.

The fundraiser in celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday prompted Thompson to make a historical analogy. In Lincoln’s time, children were fortunate to receive a grade-school education, he said.

“That is not good enough for Illinois today,” he said, adding that now all citizens should have the opportunity to receive a college education.

NIU Provost Kendall Baker agreed with Thompson’s comments on the importance of providing Illinois citizens with a college education. Although he is “not quite as confident that the budget will address needs at Northern.”

Thompson mentioned the group of about 20 NIU students who held signs in protest of higher education funding and who spoke with him as he arrived. “I agree with them—they didn’t have to convince me.”

Thompson began his speech by describing his car trip through northern Illinois and DeKalb as “sort of a trip in nostalgia,” describing boyhood summers at his grandfather’s farm outside of Hinckley, Ill.