Contact: James Muhammad, James.Muhammad@seiuhcil.org
After Months of Escalating Actions, Calls, and Letters From Illinois Working Families, Illinois General Assembly Passes Two Bills to Fill Most of Child Care and Home Care Budget Holes for Current Fiscal Year;
Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Crisis Still Looms
(CHICAGO) – Today, the Illinois General Assembly passed two bills to address the current child care budget crisis, as well as the much smaller but still devastating home care budget crisis. (The two bills were HB317 and HB318).
After months of negotiation, the General Assembly refused to give in to Governor Rauner’s demands to be given free rein to slash the budget, and instead crafted a compromise that while temporary and still flawed provides necessary funding to fill significant budget holes.
While the bills will increase funding for the Fiscal Year 2015 Child Care Assistance Program budget by $266 million and the Home Services Program budget by $18 million, funding gaps still exist.
Additionally, the “solution” passed today includes an across-the-board cut of 2.25% to every state agency, creating additional stresses for vulnerable working families. The funding relief is also limited to this year’s budget. It fails to address the significant cuts that Governor Rauner has proposed for essential services in the 2016 budget.
With the passage of the child care budget relief today, money should soon start moving to child care providers and centers, preventing additional closures and bringing much-needed relief to providers and workers who have gone for weeks without payment. Over 100,000 working families across the state rely upon the Child Care Assistance Program.
In the months since the child care crisis funding first emerged, thousands of parents, advocates and child care providers rallied and marched and otherwise spoken out to demand an immediate solution to the crisis. This fix comes too late for some parents who have already lost jobs and income as a result. Plus many child care centers have been forced to close, impacting large numbers of families in the neighborhoods most in need of affordable child care.
While today’s budget fix will bring temporary relief for thousands of families, the current 2.25% across-the-board cut, plus an additional cut of $18 million to the Community Care Program serving seniors, will inflict additional suffering during this Fiscal Year. And more pain lies ahead after June 30th, unless State Legislators and the Governor take immediate action to bring in the much-needed new revenue to fully fund programs for the 2016 Fiscal Year.
April Verrett, Executive Vice-President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois, released the following statement:
“Today, the Illinois General Assembly took a crucial step towards alleviating the suffering of the state’s working families by passing two bills to fill $266 million of the budget hole in the Child Care Assistance Program and to fill $18 million of the home care budget hole. On behalf of the working families we represent and the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Illinoisans they serve, we want to thank the legislators who took action to stop the 2016 Fiscal Year budget crisis while refusing to give in to Governor Rauner’s demands.
“This solution is temporary—it doesn’t address the devastating cuts the Governor has proposed for Fiscal Year 2016—and limited in its scope. But it does bring immediate relief to the over 100,000 families who depend upon the Child Care Assistance Program in order to work and support their children. It means that child care centers and providers will stop closing up shop, and most importantly, that no additional parents will lose their jobs and possibly their homes because they can’t access affordable child care.
“Today’s solution was a result of the outcry by hundreds of thousands of Illinois families and advocates. SEIU Healthcare Illinois was proud to have thousands of our members engaged in the fight with many taking buses to Springfield and risking arrest, holding hundreds of child care walkouts with thousands of families across the state, not to mention the rallies, letters, and phone calls to legislators.
“While we’re relieved to have the immediate crisis resolved, the larger budget crisis remains. The 2.25% across-the-board cuts for the remainder of this Fiscal Year will inflict further pain on working families. And the $18 million cut to the Community Care Program will be devastating for seniors who rely upon those vital services.
“In addition, Governor Rauner has proposed devastating budget cuts for the next Fiscal Year after June 30th, which means child care, home care, senior care services and hospitals all face significant cutbacks to vital services.
“Governor Rauner proposes eliminating child care services for children over age five and cutting all relative care—both of which would have devastating consequences for families struggling just to survive.
“The main message is that Illinois families have a big fight ahead.
“We know that speaking out and taking action works—that’s how we got the relief delivered today. But there are larger fights ahead that will require more than temporary fixes.
“Our members are prepared to keep working with families, advocates and allies across the state for comprehensive budget solutions that are based on new revenue from the 1% and not accepting devastating cuts to working families.”