FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2015
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th) secured Senate passage today of legislation that eliminates the $1.6 billion shortfall in the state's budget for the current fiscal year and ends a child care funding emergency that has left tens of thousands of working parents short on options.
"Without taking on additional debt, this bipartisan solution patches the holes in this year's budget and relieves a significant source of stress on low-income working families," Steans said. "Now we can move forward into a productive conversation about the feasibility and human impact of the cuts the governor has requested in next year's budget."
House Bills 317 and 318 move $1.3 billion in surplus money from dozens of special-purpose state funds to fill critical shortfalls in funding for the Child Care Assistance Program, mental health care, developmental disabilities services, courts and prison guards. The $266 million influx will cover all anticipated costs of the child care subsidy program, which helps parents who are working or attending school, and prevent further closures of child care centers due to delays in state payments. The legislation also includes a 2.25 percent cut to most areas of spending, although nearly $100 million will be set aside to cushion the impact of the reductions on the neediest school districts.
"We knew this year's budget wasn't complete, because we didn't have the votes to put in place the policies necessary to address the state's chronic structural deficit," Steans said. "Today's solution isn't ideal, but it staves off crisis and allows us to focus on next year's budget and what we need to do to meet needs in a fiscally sustainable way."
The House approved the two measures on Tuesday; they will now go to the governor's desk.