SPRINGFIELD — There is no state budget, two weeks into the fiscal year, and the public jockeying continues over what cuts not to make.
A day after an hours-long hue and cry over the Illinois State Museum, State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) stood alongside elderly and disabled Illinoisans in danger of losing home health services, warning that nearly 40,000 seniors could be forced into nursing homes under the budget plan pushed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
With neither the governor nor the legislature offering a balanced budget, how can Illinois get to a solution if nobody wants to cut anything?
“We have to be willing to make hard choices, and I think we have to be honest about the fact that none of those choices will be easy or painless, but there are gradations,” said Biss. “When you talk about, ‘Oh, let’s move that number, or that threshold a little bit,’ you forget the human consequences, and I don’t think you can look at this presentation and say, ‘This is the right cut to make,” and I don’t think it’s consistent with the values of the people of Illinois.”
Amid speculation lawmakers might try to override the governor’s budget veto, Biss said, “If that’s the least worst option? Yikes. The Constitution of Illinois was not designed for the state to be run from the legislature. The governor has to manage the budget.”
Under other cost-cutting measures imposed by Rauner’s administration effective July 1, the state’s child care assistance program has been effectively closed to nearly all new enrollees.
According to advocates, in just the first two weeks more than 2,000 families who would have qualified under previous eligibility guidelines have already been denied access to the program.
These are families who rely on the child care subsidy to make it economically feasible to go to work so that someday they might escape poverty.
A family of four earning $12,132 a year will now make too much money to qualify for the subsidy, a dramatic drop from the previous income ceiling of $44,868.