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Damage to Women and Families Persists in Wake of Budget Impasse

Chicago Foundation for Women, Voices for Illinois Children, and Loyola University Chicago’s Center for Urban Research and Learning today released a new report on the impact of Illinois’ budget impasse on women and children. The report, titled “Damage Done: The Impact of the Illinois Budget Stalemate on Women and Children,” was prepared by Voices for Illinois Children and Loyola’s Center for Urban Research and Learning. Illinois’ most vulnerable residents, including low-income women of color and their children, continue to bear the burden of the state’s two-year impasse, which delayed payment of contracts to social service providers and resulted in significant cuts in staff and services that cannot be quickly replaced.

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Higher Education Funding Cuts, Reduced Enrollment

The on-going impasse in Springfield continues to put a severe strain on the public university system in Illinois. As the legislature and governor fail to approve a complete budget for the fiscal year, it puts universities in the unenviable situation of having to raise tuition and fees while also looking at ways to cut costs. Some recent examples:

  • Southern Illinois University has reduced staff by almost 10% between the academic years starting in 2014 and 2016. It has reduced its authorizing budget by $21 million since the beginning of the budget impasse. Just last week, Southern Illinois University trustees approved a loan of up to $35 million from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville to support its Carbondale campus.
  • Since 2016, Eastern Illinois University has reduced its workforce by more than 500 people (from 1,743 employees to 1,224 employees).
  • Chicago State University eliminated more than 400 staff positions in 2016.
  • Governors State University this year approved eliminating 22 degree programs and raises tuition by 15%.
  • Northern Illinois University has announced a reduction of 150 staff positons for Fiscal Year 2018.
  • As a cost-cutting measure, Northeastern Illinois University shut down the campus for three days last month. It has also required employees to take furlough days during the last two academic years.

State University Budget Cuts

university funding May
MAP funding


Student Enrollment
As the funding issues continue, it appears to be having an impact on the enrollment of full-time students.

university enrollment


In fact, Chicago State University enrolled just 86 freshman this fall.

This decline coincides with a trend that has been occurring throughout the decade. Illinois is among the nation’s leaders in outmigration of graduating high school students, with an estimated net loss of over 16,000 students. This is not a recent development; Illinois high school students have been leaving the state for college in increasing numbers.

Illinois out-of-state students

Source:  Illinois Board of Higher Education

Illinois high school and college students deserve a world class higher education system that allows them to compete in the world economy. As it currently stands, Illinois is underfunding its universities with subsequent staff and program cuts.

This graduate season it is worth contemplating the higher education system we want for our state.  More survey data might be needed for a more accurate picture to explain enrollment declines.  However, it seems the state’s high school and college students see what the future might hold for Illinois’ higher education system and are leaving.

Written by John Gordon

Statement from Voices for Illinois Children President Tasha Green Cruzat on Governor Rauner’s Proposed Budget

Governor Bruce Rauner today presented a proposed state budget for Fiscal Year 2018 that is built on a $7 billion gambit that includes cuts to human service programs.

While the budget contains increased funding for early childhood education, early intervention programs, and child care assistance, it also contains direct cuts to Department of Human Service grant programs including addiction prevention, after school youth programs, the emergency food program, the youth employment program, and teen parent services.

The Governor estimates these cuts along with changes to state employee health care benefits, the delivery of human services to adults age 60 and older, pension benefits, state procurement regulations, and the sale of the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago will reduce expenditures by $2.4 billion. The Governor proposed some of these measures last year.

The proposed budget also anticipates $4.6 billion in net revenue from a “compromise package” of legislation that could include spending cuts, a property tax freeze, workers’ compensation changes, additional pension and procurement changes, new revenue, and other measures. The Senate is currently attempting to work out a budget package.

If the compromise package and other proposals in the budget do not materialize, an auto-pilot “maintenance” budget (with some additional accounting measures built-in) would essentially cost the state $7.2 billion more than anticipated revenue for the fiscal year. This would only further endanger additional programs serving children and their families.

In the last nineteen months, our early childhood education providers have had to shut their doors in the faces of thousands of children. Our higher education system has been weakened because of the lack of tuition grants to low income students, programmatic cuts, and staff layoffs. Providers of mental health services, homeless youth services, addiction treatment and supportive housing have been forced to turn a blind eye to those most in need.

Is this the path the state will continue on? A path already paved with unpaid bills that sits at a staggering $11.9 billion as of today.

Illinois has operated for too long without a complete budget. I urge Governor Rauner and members of the General Assembly to do their jobs and present a balanced budget with sufficient revenue that puts Illinois children and families first.


Budget Impasse Means More Youth at Risk of Incarceration, More Back Bills

Youth prevention and alternative to incarceration programs make communities safer, improve a youth’s chances for success, and save the state unnecessary incarceration costs. Unfortunately, as this Fiscal Policy Center report shows, the damage the ongoing budget crisis has done to two community-based prevention and rehabilitation programs for youth—Redeploy Illinois and Comprehensive Community-Based Youth Programs (CCBYS) is putting more youth at risk of incarceration.

Both Redeploy and CCBYS programs prevent or divert thousands of youth away from incarceration and the child welfare system. Yet, the “stopgap” budget adopted by the state earlier this year cut spending levels by about one-third from previous spending levels. All spending on Redeploy Illinois and CCBYS ceases beginning January 1, 2017 when the stopgap measure expires. Without new revenue, any continuation of Redeploy Illinois and CCBYS would only add to Illinois’ growing backlog of bills (currently at $10.4 billion).

When it is fully funded, Redeploy Illinois saves money and keeps children out of prison. Illinois counties participating in Redeploy Illinois have reduced the number of youths going to prison by 58 percent, or nearly 1,800 youth, saving the state an estimated $88 million in incarceration costs between 2005 and 2014.

Similarly, with a fully-funded CCBYS program, youth receive crisis intervention services designed to prevent entry to the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. In the last year, without funding, more than half of CCBYS providers have reduced services, with roughly 7,000 youth put on wait lists, not receiving the services they need, or needing to travel far from home to get help.

Illinois Must End the Budget Crisis and Target Investments for Low-income Parents of Color and their Children

With only three scheduled veto session days remaining and money from the state’s “stopgap” budget set to run out at the end of December, Illinois lawmakers need to act urgently to restore critical programs that strengthen young parents and their children. This week, Voices for Illinois Children released a new report highlighting the damage the ongoing budget crisis is having on the economic security of Illinois’ children and families and makes recommendations to raise the necessary revenue to balance the budget and fully restore programs that help communities thrive.

The first five years of life are the most important period of growth for a child, but persistent poverty can harm young children and set back their likelihood of success in school and in their adult life. With one in 10 Illinois children under six living in deep poverty (50 percent of the poverty level, or roughly $12,125 for a family of four) and four in ten living below twice the poverty rate ($48,500 for a family of four), the urgency of investing in programs that counter the negative effects of poverty are paramount.

The current “stopgap” budget fails to provide adequate funding for many important programs that support young parents to pursue their education and provide their children with high-quality childcare and programs that support their well-being. As a result, several programs, including the Monetary Award Program which provides grants for low-income college students, Adult Basic Education and Literacy programs, and home visiting programs that support child well-being will not have any funding available at the start of 2017.

To fully support young parents in Illinois and create opportunities for their children and families, Illinois must:

• Restore eligibility for the Child Care Assistance Program to 185 percent of the poverty level and to parents pursuing a college degree full time.
• Restore state investments in higher education and MAP grants.
• Target funding to areas that improve educational outcomes for low-income parents of color.
• Restore Safe from the Start funding and increase investments in children’s mental health.

Illinois Financial Crisis: Eight Things You Need to Know

The legislative session is over, and Illinois is about to enter its second year without a budget. Where does all of this leave the state?

Voices for Illinois Children’s Fiscal Policy Center offers eight takeaways to put matters in perspective and lead the way to a solution that gets Illinois back to making the public investments needed for the state to flourish.

  1. Illinois is Dismantling the Foundations of a Prosperous, Compassionate State. As the Fiscal Policy Center has chronicled, the lack of a fully-funded state budget is devastating for communities across Illinois. Our higher education system, an essential part of creating a strong workforce, is falling apart. Service providers are shutting down, and our safety net is collapsing. Survivors of sexual assault can’t get needed counseling; homeless youth are kept out of shelters; and the families of children with autism spectrum disorder are denied services that help their children thrive.
  1. Public Safety is Jeopardized. Violence in our communities has many causes and requires many solutions. Now, just when Illinois needs a coordinated, public health-centered approach to violence that plagues many communities, we are going in the opposite direction. Illinois has cut mental health and substance abuse treatment, after-school opportunities for youth, and programs like Redeploy that rehabilitate youth in their communities.
  1. Lack of Resources Drives This Crisis. Political posturing aside, the real problem is Illinois doesn’t have the money it takes to meet public needs. Illinois could be a thriving state, with opportunity for all, if it could make the public investments that have been impossible since the 2015 income tax cut. To return to the level of services of the 2015 fiscal year — the last year with a full budget — without adding additional debt, Illinois needs more than $7 billion in new revenue a year. Our state is way beyond the point where its financial problems can be solved by further cutting spending.
  1. Delay In Raising Revenue Means More Debt. Since the enormous income tax cuts of 2015, Illinois is racking up debt even with deep cuts in spending. This is because the state must still pay for a variety of things mandated under state and federal law. Every day lawmakers and Governor Rauner fail to agree on raising critically needed revenue, Illinois’ finances worsen. “Solutions” that fail to raise revenue aren’t really solutions at all. (Note: If public schools are simply not funded at all next school year, that would “improve” the budget picture on paper, but would have devastating effects.)
  1. Debt = Less Investment in Future. Increasing the state’s backlog of unpaid bills not only means unfair payment delays to people providing goods and services. It also restricts what Illinois can do in the future. Debt must be repaid using future revenue, taking resources away from schools, transportation, public safety, and other building blocks of broad prosperity.
  1. Without More Revenue, Increases to PreK-12 Education Funding Crowds Out Other Investments. Investments in preschool and K-12 education are some of the most important investments that our state can make. We absolutely need to be increasing these investments to create opportunities for our children and create a brighter future for Illinois. Without new revenue, however, the large increases to PreK-12 education that Democratic legislative leaders and Governor Rauner want mean that the state will further increase its debt (which will reduce future services and investments) and be forced to cut a range of services for children and families that support children’s healthy growth and development. We cannot continue to pit education against human services — children and families need both to succeed.
  1. Short-Term “Emergency” Budget is Not a Solution. At best, a six-month emergency budget to get elected officials past the November elections only slows the deterioration of our higher education system and our social safety net. Much of any emergency six-month budget would likely just fill existing holes and would not sustain critical services into next fiscal year. For example, under the outlines of the Governor’s emergency six-month budget plan, Illinois would provide no tuition-assistance (MAP grants) this fall for college students from families struggling to make ends meet.
  1. Governor Rauner Has Bill on His Desk that is Part of His Desired Six-Month Budget. The legislature passed by large bipartisan majorities Senate Bill 2038 to provide urgently needed funds to service providers owed $700 million by the state. The money sits in state accounts, unable to be spent until Governor Rauner signs the legislation he received nearly three weeks ago. More than 220 organizations, including Voices, have urged him to sign this bill.

To avoid further damage to our state, lawmakers and Governor Rauner must come together to enact a fully funded budget that raises billions of dollars in new revenue to support critical services and public investment in Illinois’ future. Anything else falls far short of strengthening our state.

Balance the Budget Without New Revenue? Nearly Impossible

Imagine, if you will, these three things happening:

  • Lawmakers and Governor Rauner fail to raise revenue for fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1.
  • They keep their promise not to cut (or even increase) support for PreK-12 education.
  • All other discretionary spending in the budget is completely eliminated.

Now here’s the question: If these three things happened would Illinois close the $7.1 billion hole it finds itself in today?

The answer: No way.

So this little exercise isn’t meant as a policy prescription. Rather, it’s an illustration that without revenue, it is virtually impossible to balance the budget without increasing debt or severely cutting education.

As the chart above shows, after last year’s 25-percent income tax cuts, state revenues are expected to be a little over $31.9 billion in the next fiscal year, according to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. Meanwhile, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) estimates a general funds budget that funds services at the level of the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2015 and meets other state obligations would cost just under $39 billion.

That big gap is about $7.1 billion. Without revenue, that’s how much Illinois would have to cut to balance the next budget. Even then the state would make no progress paying down its huge backlog of unpaid bills, which is expected to reach nearly $10 billion by the end of next month, according to Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger.

Cutting $7.1 billion from the budget wouldn’t be easy, even if it were desirable (which it isn’t).  For one thing, it couldn’t be done in an across-the-board manner. That’s because roughly $27 billion (70%) of the budget can broadly be categorized as “mandatory” spending. This includes: debt service, pension contributions, transfers made according to existing state law (largely to local governments and transit systems), Medicaid costs, and spending relating to consent decrees and court orders. It’s difficult (or impossible) to cut these areas.

The remaining $11.6 billion of the general funds budget can broadly be considered “discretionary” — it doesn’t have to be spent under law.  (For more details on how we calculated what is “discretionary,” click here.) This is not to say that these parts of the budget are unimportant. Far from it. This is spending on PreK-12 education, higher education, and a significant portion of human services, including areas such as homeless prevention, substance abuse and mental health treatment, and domestic violence.

Revenue Shortfall and Flat PreK-12 Budget Mean Impossible to Balance Budget

If lawmakers and Governor Rauner maintain (or even increase) funding for PreK-12 education, the total amount of remaining discretionary areas of the budget is less than the total revenue gap. In other words, even if the state eliminated entire sections of the state budget, it would still not balance the next state budget. Without billions of dollars in new revenue, it will be nearly impossible for the state to stop digging itself an ever-deeper financial hole. There is no getting around this.

Bipartisan Measure Provides Lifeline to Human Service Providers

The General Assembly passed by overwhelming bipartisan votes a $714 million bill (Senate Bill 2038) to fund human services for fiscal year 2016. The measure is essential to providing immediate relief to providers across the state struggling to stay open more than ten months into the fiscal year.

However, it does not remove the need for a full budget for both FY 2016 and FY 2017 (which begins July 1) that requires billions of dollars in new revenue to maintain critical services and investments in the state’s future. SB 2038 follows the General Assembly’s approval three weeks ago of $600 million in emergency funding to state universities, community colleges, and the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for Monetary Award Program grants.

Among the items in SB 2038 are $248 million for the Department of Human Services and $243 million for the Department on Aging (with the majority of funding for the Community Care Program). It also contains funding for other agencies including the Department of Public Health and the Illinois Housing Development Authority. A spreadsheet of the line items in SB 2038 can be found here or below.

Approximately 65% of the money in SB 2038 comes from the Advancement for Human Services Fund. This fund receives 1/30th of net income tax receipts from individuals, trusts and estates. The remaining funds include specialized funds for the designated purposes such as the Drug Treatment Fund, Department of Human Services Community Services Fund, and the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

The funds do not cover any services or programs currently provided and funded under a court order. Along with a state order covering employee salaries, numerous court orders and consent decrees cover a variety of services (including Medicaid) for the fiscal year.

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Fair Tax Bill Introduced

On Friday, Representative Lou Lang introduced a fair tax rate structure (House Bill 689), which would provide over 99% of income taxpayers with a tax cut while raising $1.9 billion to prevent more harmful budget cuts. The fact sheet below shows the tax change for different families structures at various income levels.

Currently, Illinois is one of only a handful of states that has a constitutionally mandated flat income tax rate, which contributes to Illinois having one of the most unfair tax systems in the country — with low-income households paying a much larger share of their income in state and local taxes than high-income households.

For Rep. Lang’s structure to take effect, the General Assembly would first also need to put a constitutional amendment on November’s ballot, which would then need to be passed by voters. By joining the 34 other states that have a fair tax, Illinois can improve tax fairness and raise revenue to support critical services, all while cutting taxes for the vast majority of Illinois taxpayers.

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Budget Crisis Update: Damage Continues to Grow

 ***TAKE ACTION*** Tell your lawmaker and the governor to end this budget crisis.

Today, the Fiscal Policy Center released an update to our September report outlining the devastating human impact the budget impasse continues to have on children, families and communities. The updated report provides a closer look at some of the pain the ongoing budget stand-off is causing in 60 service areas across the state, particularly for seniors, children and underserved families.

Illinois is now in its ninth month without a budget for the current fiscal year. Without an overall budget to govern appropriations for programs and services, court orders and federal pass through funding combined with piecemeal legislation have created a complicated web of spending authority that leaves out funding for critical programs serving people in every corner the of state.

That means that programs serving low-income children, seniors, and those with disabilities across the state have been forced to shut down. The failure of our elected officials to enact a state budget continues to dismantle the foundations of Illinois’ health and human service system, resulting in long-term damage to our state that will take years to repair.

Below are just a few other examples of the foreseeable and preventable results of not having a fully-funded budget.

  • HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment Services: The Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative, a program that works with medical providers statewide to ensure that pregnant women who are HIV-positive deliver HIV-negative babies, will close its doors in October of 2016 unless funding is restored. The program saves the state about $35 million each year, and without it, there will be babies who could have been born HIV-negative that will be born HIV-positive.
  • The Autism Project of Illinois: Nearly 1,800 families across the state have either lost services or are at risk of losing critical autism services after TAP closed its doors on September 30, 2015. Previously, TAP was a national leader in providing services and supports to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). One in 68 children has been identified as having ASD by the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Home-delivered Meals for Seniors: Roughly 3,200 seniors have lost home-delivered meal services statewide. In DuPage County, the DuPage Senior Citizens Council has cut program staff by 55% and has closed its community dining program. In Rockford, 250 meal slots have been eliminated, bringing the number of seniors on the wait list for meals to 400. The provider, Lifescape Community Services, reports serving 17,000 fewer meals in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the first quarter of 2015.
  • Sexual Assault Services and Prevention: All 29 agencies serving survivors of sexual assault have instituted furloughs and left staff vacancies unfilled. Agencies across the state have instituted waitlists for counseling services. One center reports 65 survivors are on a waiting list for critical trauma-centered sexual assault counseling services in Chicago alone.
  • Substance Abuse and Prevention Programs: Approximately 47,000 individuals across the state have been denied services or have had reduced service delivery, and most providers have a waiting list of 3 months or longer. That leaves many adults with substance abuse disorders at risk of entering the criminal justice system-a much more costly outcome for the state.
  • Centers for Independent Living: In FY14, Centers for Independent Living (CIL) served 95 of Illinois’ 102 counties, equipping people with disabilities with resources, supports, and skills to live independently. CILs across the state, including Chicago, Swansea, Joliet, and Alton, have instituted furloughs and layoffs, jeopardizing the roughly 63,430 direct services and information and referrals that were provided in FY14.
  • Support Services for Seniors: Home Care and Adult Day Care have been especially hard hit. Lutheran Social Services of Illinois closed 7 home care and adult day care centers, eliminating services for 2,355 seniors in Canton, Chicago, DeKalb, Freeport, Moline, Peoria and Rockford. LSSI also cut case management and adult protective services programs for 2,713 seniors in Sterling, IL. The lack of state investment in home care services leaves more than 25,000 seniors at risk of losing services across Cook andLake Counties.

Whether Illinois completely dismantles key service delivery systems is completely in the hands of Governor Rauner and the General Assembly. To prevent further damage to children, families, and communities, lawmakers and the governor need to take responsibility for funding our state’s priorities by restoring the revenue we need so that we can begin to repair the damage and put the people of Illinois first.

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