We continue to be concerned about the lack of a State of Illinois Budget, which impacts early childhood education and families of these children. We are still working with less money due to this impasse. The following is re-printed in part from The Ounce Early Edition Winter 2017.
Illinois has gone 19 months without a state budget, as efforts stalled in the state senate on a bipartisan proposal to end the stalemate.
In the midst of this ongoing uncertainty, on February 15, Governor Rauner outlined his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year.
His FY2018 budget proposal included:
· $50 million increase to the Early Childhood Block Grant
· $151.3 million increase to the Child Care Assistance Program to restore eligibility to families earning up to 185% of the Federal Poverty Level and to families participating in non-TANF education and training activities
· Maintain home visiting services at $16.9 million
· $4 million increase to funding for Early Intervention
· $38 million increase to funding for educational supports for English learners to fully fund those payments to school districts
Despite these proposed increases, we know that for Illinois to truly support its most vulnerable children and families, the state must commit to a path toward sustaining its investments. That path includes raising enough revenue for the state to pay its bills and meaningfully make these investments.
Every day that passes costs Illinois money, makes the problem more difficult to solve and further harms programs that help young children and their families thrive. Home visiting programs continue to scale back and close down. Child care providers still cannot enroll many families left out because of the restricted eligibility, and Early Intervention providers wait months to receive payment for the services they’ve provided to babies and toddlers. Governor Rauner and the Illinois General Assembly must work together to put forth a budget that supports revenue to adequately fund critically important early childhood investments.
In the coming weeks, legislative committees will meet to review the governor’s proposal and hear from advocates. The Ounce of Prevention Fund and our partners will continue to advocate for a full-year, fully-funded budget and remind lawmakers of the mounting cost of inaction.
It is up to all of us to be advocates for our children.