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*** UPDATED x2 *** Dunkin absence, GOP solidarity behind defeat of child care bill

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015

* We can debate all day whether the absent Rep. Ken Dunkin was the solely responsible Democrat for the defeat of AFSCME’s “no strike” bill yesterday.

But he most surely was that person when it came to the bill which would’ve rolled back the governor’s administrative rule to dramatically slash the state’s child care assistance program. Gov. Rauner’s rule will block 90 percent of new program intakes by, among other things, lowering the maximum allowable income to just half of the federal poverty level.

All House Republicans stuck with Gov. Rauner yesterday and the bill received just 70 votes. So, if Dunkin had been doing the job he was elected to do, the bill would’ve passed, and it also probably would’ve been pretty tough to keep all the HGOPs off of that roll call when they saw it had enough support.

* From Sen. Toi Hutchinson’s Facebook page

SB570 failed in the House today by 1 vote. 90% of previously eligible families are now without childcare subsidies. A parent who works full time at minimum wage now makes too much to qualify for childcare help. Keep in mind that the only way you qualify is if you work or are going to school. It failed today by 1 vote. My heart is breaking. I have no words. Thank you Representative Jehan Gordon Booth for being my partner in this. We have to live to fight another day.

As she pointed out, the bill is now on Postponed Consideration, so they can vote on it again. However, considering how difficult it was to get 70 Democrats to town yesterday (subscribers know more), without some GOP support this thing is probably going to remain in limbo for a while.

* I asked Emily Miller of Voices for Illinois Children and folks at some other groups why they didn’t put out a statement on the bill’s defeat yesterday and to please send me something I could use today. Here’s Emily’s response…

Hi Rich-

Sorry I didn’t get anything out earlier. I think that I was totally blown away by what happened, and I really did not see the failure of the child care bill coming. I never expected that child care would become such a partisan issue, and I needed to take a beat to figure out where we go from here.

The child care assistance program is a linchpin of the welfare to work program. It’s something that Republicans and Democrats have agreed on for decades. It’s common sense- If people to go to work and move off of welfare, you have to give them the tools they need to be able to do that. That means they have access to safe, quality child care.

Now we are left with the governor’s cuts intact. 90% of new applicants to the child care program will continue to be denied.

We are going to keep up the fight to get the governor’s office to roll back the devastating child care cuts on their own. We are going to continue to show lawmakers and members of the public that the cuts are ruining lives.

Child care is a necessary tool to keep low and middle income families out of poverty. We hope that lawmakers will come to their senses and pass a bill that saves child care in Illinois.

Emily Miller
Voices for Illinois Children

* And here’s the response from Illinois Action for Children…

Illinois Action for Children is disappointed and frustrated that SB 570, Amendment #1 fell one vote short of the required 71 votes yesterday in the House. The bill was introduced in response to Governor Rauner using his executive powers to enact emergency rules to significantly restrict access to the state’s IDHS CCAP; a program designed to support working parents’ access to quality care for their young children. The changes that went into effect on July 1st eliminate access for an estimated 90% of families otherwise eligible - families who are in desperate need for assistance to pay for child care when they are working or in an education or training program.

While we hope to work with Rep. Gordon-Booth to bring this bill back to the House for another vote, its failure yesterday means that parents who finally receive a long-sought job opportunity will be forced to turn it down, school-age children will likely go home alone instead of to a quality Afterschool program, and child care programs who are losing on average 25% of their enrollment to children aging out of the program (and going to school) will continue to close classrooms and programs. The infrastructure to deliver care that Illinois has invested millions of state dollars - in combination with federal funds - and which employs thousands of people will continue to crumble as a result of this failed vote.

It is a sad day when low-income children and working families are being held hostage in the Governor’s quest for his ‘turnaround agenda’ that has resulted in the worst budget impasse this state has seen in many decades. Child care has always been a program with bipartisan support because legislators know, regardless of party affiliation, that investing in our state’s youngest learners has an immediate return on investment for their working parents, and has a lifelong impact on a child’s success in school and in life. Investing in our children is vitally important to this state’s economy and its future.

I also asked Mrs. Rauner’s Ounce of Prevention Fund for comment, but haven’t heard back.

*** UPDATE 1 *** From Ireta Gasner, assistant director of Illinois Policy at Ounce of Prevention…

We are disappointed that the House of Representatives failed to pass SB570, legislation that would have reversed harmful changes to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) put into place through emergency rulemaking by the governor’s administration. Vulnerable children and families were once again held hostage by the budget impasse and political stalemate in Springfield. We commend Senator Hutchinson and Representative Gordon-Booth for their leadership on this issue vital to children’s healthy development and our state’s economic future. Fortunately there are still several opportunities for our elected officials to do the right thing for working families:

    1. First and foremost, we encourage Governor Rauner to rescind the eligibility changes that are locking 90% of previously eligible families out of the system.
    2. We ask the legislature to seek another opportunity to legislatively rescind the eligibility changes.
    3. We call upon the General Assembly and governor to work together to approve a fair, fully-funded budget that adequately funds vital programs like CCAP.
    4. We urge the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to vote against making the emergency rules permanent.

Every day this continues, families are being forced to choose between providing for or caring for their children, children are not receiving the quality early experiences they need to thrive, centers are unfilled or closing, and employees are losing their jobs. This must stop. We call upon all our elected officials, from the Governor to the General Assembly, to ensure the viability of families, communities and our state

*** UPDATE 2 *** Rep. Jehan Gordon…

What was often viewed as neutral ground in the budget making process, the Childcare Assistance Program, has unfortunately become a political football. It is incredibly disheartening to know that we could not get the requisite votes to allow thousands of poor, working families across the state access to childcare. Denying access to 90% of those previously eligible is just not the Illinois that I know. Falling one vote short is just unacceptable. We can do better. For that reason, Senator Hutchinson and I will continue to fight for working families, primarily women head of household, for their opportunity at one day having the American Dream.

- Posted by Rich Miller   133 Comments      

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