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State Update

The General Assembly adjourned on May 31st and is now officially ‘finished’ within the regularly scheduled session.   The final budget proposal, crafted by the House, spends $671 million less than FY 12 budget and falls short in many critical areas.

The Education budget, which funds education programs for children birth through high school, was passed with an overall cut of $260 million, including a $24.9 million cut to the Early Childhood Block Grant (ECBG) which funds Preschool for All.  This House-proposed budget will devastate public education as we know it, and most importantly will result in a total cut to the ECBG since 2009 of $80 million – resulting in 26,000 fewer children having access to a high quality preschool experience.  In addition to the ECBG cuts, General State Aid and the Free and Reduced Lunch and Breakfast Program also received significant cuts.

The Senate passed an ‘education add-back’ bill on May 31st that restores the $24.9 million cut to the ECBG.  Unfortunately, the House did not take action on that bill, so the cuts stand for now. 

Human Services took an overall cut of $200 million, with a direct cut to child care of $5.3 million. While this budget has less of a cut to child care than in the Governor’s proposed budget, this cut will still result in programmatic cuts (we estimate close to $50 million) including a significant increase in parent co-payments, decreased income eligibility guidelines, and reductions in quality and other changes that will limit access to low-income families.  The good news in this budget is Home Visiting services – Healthy Families and Parents too Soon - and Teen REACH were funded at FY12 levels. No cuts to the state’s home visiting programs were required to avoid a significant penalty by the Federal Government.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) received a $103 million increase from FY12.  This increase is due to an increased caseload and will help to avoid a repeated need for a supplemental appropriation late in the fiscal year.

Cuts totaling $1.6 billion to the Medicaid program also passed this year.  While the final cuts were below the originally-proposed $2.7 billion, low-income families across the state will still feel the devastation.  Hundreds of thousands of low-income Illinoisans will be removed from the program when the new eligibility standards take effect and those that remain will see reduced coverage for things like prescriptions and dental care.

The budget bills will now be sent to the Governor to be signed.

Senate Bill 3601 passed both chambers as amended, and now awaits the Governor’s signature to become law.  The final bill creates accountabilities for the DCFS on their responsibilities around the licensing of child care homes and centers across the state.  The bill requires a report be presented to the General Assembly in September 2013, and will require the DCFS to do the work of data collection and performance monitoring under the framework of the state’s Early Learning Council.

The advocacy efforts of the child care community made a huge difference this year – from the Supplemental Funding for Child Care to pushing back some of the cuts going forward.  And our efforts are not over.  Thank you for all you do for children and families!  Stay tuned for more detailed information on the end of session in the coming days, and direction for your continued advocacy.

Be sure to register for our Statewide Public Policy Caucus to be held in Bloomington on June 14, 2012 from 10-3pm where we will give ample time to dissecting the legislative session and the impact it will have on families and children going forward.

 

Federal Budget Update

While the General Assembly just finished their FY13 budget for the State, legislators in Washington, D.C. continued their work to create a Federal Fiscal Year 2013 budget, which would go into effect October 1, 2012.

The House of Representatives passed House Appropriation Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) FY13 budget in March.  Chairman Ryan’s budget cuts $5.3 trillion in nondefense spending over ten years, 62% of which will come from programs that serve low-income people.  The $3.3 trillion in cuts over ten years will include a $134 billion (17%) cut to SNAP, a $2.4 trillion cut to Medicaid and other health care programs and $754 billion in cuts to other programs for low-income Americans, including Pell Grants and job training programs.

Besides a $200 billion increase to defense spending, the proposed budget will also cut the top tax rate to 25%, giving those who earn over a $1 million per year a $265,000 tax cut.  In contrast, those who earn between $30,000 and $40,000 a year will receive an average tax cut of $482.  Despite these massive programmatic cuts and tax reductions, Chairman Ryan’s budget will add to the National Debt and make no changes to projected future budget deficits.

You can read Chairman Ryan’s full plan by clicking here.

The Senate plans to begin its work on a funding bill next week.  Let’s hope the Democratic controlled Senate budget will be more in line with the President’s early childhood funding proposals – an $825 million increase to the Child Care and Development Block Grant and an $84 million increase to Head Start/Early Head Start.  We will have more information for you when their budget is released.

 

Reminder:  Register TODAY for our Statewide Public Policy Caucus

IAFC's Statewide Public Policy Caucus is next week! Come join us and other early care and education advocates for a valuable, timely and informative caucus session. 

Please join us in Bloomington on June 14, 2012 from 10 - 3pm where, among other topics, we will give ample time to dissecting the legislative session and the impact the FY13 budget will have on families and children going forward.

Click here to download and print caucus flyer.

Statewide Public Policy Caucus

Thursday, June 14, 2012
10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

registration opens at 9:30 a.m.


2012 Rally Coverage

Several thousand child care providers, and advocates gathered on the steps of the Capitol in Springfield on May 17th to tell legislators to fully fund the Child Care Assistance Program before it was too late.  They received unexpected good news at the Rally from Maria, who told the assembled crowd to “look at the person next to you and say congratulations – congratulations because the supplemental budget to fund the Child Care Assistance Program through the end of the fiscal year is a done deal!”

Receiving a supplemental budget for FY 2012 was a major victory – it shows what a group of people can accomplish when they come together with great determination to support a common cause. Please visit the Illinois Action for Children Facebook page to see more pictures from the Rally!  Click on the links below to see video coverage.

WAND-TV 17 NBC’s coverage of the Rally (VIDEO, fast-forward to the 3:34 mark of this video for the full piece on the Rally)

 Childcare Bill Passes House (VIDEO includes coverage of the Rally: WCIS 20 Springfield)

 Lawmakers Move To Spare Subsidized Child Care (WUIS-FM Radio Springfield)

 

Illinois Leads Way in Teaching English Language Learners

In some good news about the state, a recent editorial in the Washington Post praises Illinois’ for focusing on the needs of English language learners at an early age.  With persistent educational achievement gaps between English language learners and their peers in K-12 system, Illinois has done well to provide language services in its early childhood programs.

While the state has been cutting preschool and bilingual services over the past few years, Illinois’ forward thinking will still have an effect on thousands of students.  To read the whole article, click here.

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