The House spent [Tuesday] working to reverse the Republican governor’s cuts to child care programs and to release $146 million in fuel-tax money to help cities fill potholes — four-tenths of 1 percent of what the state usually spends annually, and the governor lauded a $2.5 million sale of surplus aircraft.
Rauner’s spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said the Legislature’s piecemeal spending approach represents Democrats’ attempt to “claw their way to a massive tax hike by hamstringing the state with an unbalanced budget.”
* We’ll get back to that quote in a bit, but first, some more on the child care cuts…
A key change put in place by the Department of Human Services includes tougher income requirements, which advocates say has shut out all but about 10 percent of families that previously qualified. Participants also face higher copays, and the state has frozen the intake of new clients.
DHS said the state is projected to save $47 million annually using higher copays and other measures, and an additional $5.3 million per month from freezing intakes to the program.
But critics say the short-term savings will be greatly outweighed by the harm to parents who will be forced to quit school or work because they no longer receive help caring for their children.
Lawmakers heard testimony from Chandra Ankoor, a single mother of three from Springfield who said she works seven days a week bartending, waitressing and cleaning office buildings to make ends meet. Without the program, Ankoor said she would not be able to make rent and pay for child care.
“For me, to lose this program would cause me to be homeless,” said Ankoor, who has testified in the past on the issue.
* The administration’s full response to yesterday’s House action…
Today’s action represents yet another week of Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls trying to claw their way to a massive tax hike by hamstringing the state with an unbalanced budget.
This amendment impacts state funds because it draws from the General Revenue Fund, and the state cannot afford near unlimited child care without a balanced budget.
Illinois needs the reforms proposed by the governor to free up resources to help the most vulnerable and to grow the economy. One of the governor’s first major actions as governor was to save child care funding from the Democrats purposefully underfunding it in the last fiscal year.
That last sentence is true. You’ll recall that the Democrats planted several time bombs in the 2015 budget, and underfunded child care was one of them. But now we’re talking an administrative rule which will prevent 90 percent of those previously eligible from qualifying.
The official overseeing the state’s child care program who was reassigned from her post by the Rauner administration has retired.
Linda Saterfield, a longtime associate director of the Office of Early Childhood, on Tuesday confirmed her departure.
Her retirement comes after she was reassigned after her testimony to lawmakers that Gov. Bruce Rauner’s cuts to child care assistance would be “devastating” for families who rely on it.