March 3, 2015

Approp hearing 3-3-15SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th) presided over a Senate committee that took the first step today toward solving the crisis caused when a program that assists working parents with the high cost of child care ran out of money earlier this year.

"Reliable, affordable child care is absolutely essential for parents who are doing their best to participate in our economy and improve their families' prospects," Steans said. "Our solution to the shortfall involves no borrowing and no new revenues, and it is imperative that we move forward immediately to resolve this short-term crisis, which has already shut down child care centers and left working parents without options."

The plan, Senate Bill 274, allows the governor to move $579 million in excess money sitting unused in various state funds to fill gaps in essential areas of spending, including the Child Care Assistance Program, which helps low-income parents who are working or attending school afford care for their young children. The $300 million shortfall in CCAP funding threatens to leave 100,000 families without access to affordable child care. The measure will also provide overtime owed to prison guards and services for people with developmental disabilities. Today, the Senate Appropriations I Committee approved the legislation.

"The governor has sought broad budgetary powers, and we have continued engaging in a dialogue with the governor's office while focusing on giving him the authority needed to keep working parents on the job," said Steans, who chairs one of the Senate's two budget committees. "It's been almost a month since parents who rely on this program came to us with their stories, asking us to support them as they build better lives for their families, and we owe them a solution."

SB 274 now advances to a vote of the full Senate.



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