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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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Protect Health Care for Illinois Children by Rejecting the American Health Care Act

Written by Mayumi Grigsby

Given the impact it will have on the lives of more than 1.4 million children covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)[1], members of the state’s congressional delegation need to reject the proposed legislation, to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).Health care

The proposed America Health Care Act (AHCA) that passed the U.S. House and which the U.S. Senate is now considering, would cut federal Medicaid funding by $834 billion over ten years and make other damaging structural changes to the Medicaid program.  Although little is known about the Senate bill to repeal and replace the ACA as of this writing, reports indicate that the emerging bill differs little from the House bill.

These cuts would likely mean curtailment or loss of medical services for Illinois children and their families covered by the program.

Medicaid Populations in Illinois

Medicaid provides health care coverage for Illinois’ most vulnerable groups: low-income children and their families, pregnant women, persons who are disabled, and seniors.

  • More than three million Illinoisans are covered by Medicaid and that includes nearly half of the state’s children are covered by the program.
  • Sixty-one percent of Medicaid enrollees in Illinois are people of color, so changes and funding cuts to the program would have a disproportionate impact on children of color and their families.
  • Medicaid, CHIP, and other public health insurance programs cover nearly half (44%) of children with special health care needs.[2]

Changing the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Expansion

Prior to the ACA, Medicaid coverage was limited to low-income parents, children, cash assistance recipients, seniors, and people with disabilities. Medicaid eligibility prior to the Medicaid Expansion was about $8,870 a year for a family of three and childless adults were ineligible. The ACA allowed states to expand their Medicaid program to include all non-elderly non-disabled adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty line. Illinois was one of 31 states (along with the District of Columbia) to do so.

Illinois MedicaidI

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The AHCA would fundamentally change how the federal government funds Medicaid.  Currently, the federal government covers 90 percent of the cost of new enrollees under the Medicaid expansion. The AHCA would lower the matching rate for new enrollees qualifying for the expansion coverage.  Starting in 2020, rather than paying 90 percent of the cost of covering these enrollees as it would under current law, the federal government would only pay 50 percent of the cost.  This represents a huge cost shift to states; it is projected that in 2021, Illinois would have to pay an additional $864 million to maintain the Medicaid expansion.  More likely, the state would be forced to cut coverage for the 635,800 Illinoisans in the Medicaid expansion.

Shifting Costs to States

Medicaid enrollment CHIP

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

The AHCA would further shift Medicaid costs from the federal government to the states by implementing a per capita cap. The federal government now contributes a fixed amount to a state’s Medicaid costs- in Illinois this is about 50 percent of total Medicaid costs. Under a per capita cap, the federal government would only pay up to a fixed amount per beneficiary. The state would then be responsible for additional and unanticipated costs, for example, an opioid crisis or a Zika outbreak. This per capita cap could lead states to cut benefits, cut enrollment, and cut payments to doctors and providers to lessen the state’s Medicaid costs. This could lower payment rates for pediatric providers and thereby threaten health care coverage for children.

The AHCA would also let states choose between a block grant for Medicaid, rather than a per capita cap. The “Flexible Block Grant Option for States” would give states the option to receive a portion of their federal Medicaid funding through a grant.[3] This amendment eliminates requirements that state Medicaid programs cover preventive child health care services for individuals under the age of 21, such as the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) services. EPSDT services are required, preventative, health and developmental assessments and vision, dental and hearing services, as well as diagnostic and treatment services to improve physical and mental health conditions. Eliminating these requirements would impede all children’s opportunity for a healthy future.

Cuts to Medicaid Funding Would Mean Fewer People are Covered

For some children with special health care needs, access to Medicaid is based on the child’s need and not on the family’s income. This pathway makes it possible for children with special needs to access care while still living at home with family. States use waivers to receive federal matching funds to allow them provide long-term and supportive services to seniors and people with disabilities in their homes and communities. Illinois covers this population of children using a Medicaid home and community-based services waiver called the Medically Fragile/Technology Dependent Children waiver. Cuts proposed in the AHCA could force states to cut back on spending on Medicaid services, putting necessary Medicaid home and community-based services waiver programs at risk.

Special Education

Cuts to federal funding for Medicaid could also threaten funding for special education in schools. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures access to public education for children with disabilities. Under this law, the education needs of the child are outlined in an individualized education plan (IEP). Medicaid pays for some of these services, which tend to be perpetually underfunded in spite of a federal commitment, for children enrolled in Medicaid.

In 2015, the federal government contributed more than half – $144,391,000 out of $286,388,260 – of Medicaid spending in Illinois schools. These cost-shifting changes to Medicaid and cuts in federal spending proposed in the AHCA would pose a significant burden on Illinois as the state would have to find ways to meet the increased financial burden.

Waiving Pre-Existing Condition Prohibition

Additional harm could come to children and their families due to the AHCA allowing states to:

  • Charge higher premiums for pre-existing coverage if they create “high risk pools”
  • Do away with “essential health benefits” requirements. In Illinois, essential health benefits include pediatric oral and vision coverage and newborn care.  Curtailment of these services could negatively impact important services required to ensure healthy development in children.

Since maternity services were not commonly covered pre-ACA and reports suggest that waivers would be easily attainable by states under the AHCA, these changes could lead states to weaken requirements ensuring coverage for maternity care.

People residing in states modifying the essential health benefits’ requirements would see “substantial increases in out-of-pocket spending on health care” and services likely to be excluded include “maternity care, mental health and substance abuse benefits, rehabilitative and habilitative services, and pediatric dental benefits.”

House GOP Health Bill

Increasing the Number of Uninsured

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), if the AHCA passes, there will be 23 million more uninsured people under age 65 by 2026 than would have been uninsured under the ACA.

Benefits of Medicaid

Studies show children with Medicaid coverage are healthier teenagers. These children perform better academically and are less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to graduate from college. They are also more likely to surpass their families’ economic status and are less reliant on the government. Medicaid expansion also gives coverage for maternal depression, particularly for low-income women and women of color. Maternal depression is known to stymie healthy development in children. Curtailing access to Medicaid and CHIP for children – particularly low income, children of color – denies them access to a better future.

Action is needed now

As of this writing, the state comptroller shows the state has a backlog of bills topping $15 billion. The AHCA would lead the state to lose $40 billion over 10 years and would also shift $24 billion in Medicaid costs over ten years to the state of Illinois.

The AHCA proposes changes that would lead to a loss of coverage for children. The bill would make it particularly difficult for children with special health care needs to continue to access the care they need to remain healthy and succeed in life.

Illinois’ U.S Senators have signaled their opposition to the AHCA.  The Governor, members of the legislature, and citizens across the state need to join them in opposing the measure and fighting for continued and quality health care coverage for Illinois children.

[1] Medicaid covers children age 0 to 6 with family incomes of up to 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL); and for children, age 6 to 19 with family incomes of up to 100% FPL. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is available for children, age 0 to 19, with family incomes too high for Medicaid. (http://southeastgenetics.org/aca/medicaid-chip-infographic.pdf) In Illinois, the program providing coverage for children is called “All Kids.” All Kids includes the state’s Medicaid and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) programs. Coverage is offered to all uninsured children, regardless of income, health status or citizenship. (https://kaiserfamilyfoundation.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/7677.pdf)

[2] http://www.kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/medicaid-and-children-with-special-health-care-needs/

[3] http://avalere.com/expertise/managed-care/insights/per-capita-caps-could-reduce-funding-for-children-covered-by-medicaid

2017 Kids Count Report: Illinois Investments Matter

Written by Anna Rowan

Data from the beginning of the state’s budget crisis show that smart investments in children lead to progress. Illinois is currently 19th in the nation in the latest rankings for child well-being, according to the 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Yet, the lack of a full state budget for the past two years (and no foreseeable end to the impasse) puts Illinois in danger of undermining its own investments and progress.


Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation

The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book uses 16 indicators to rank each state across four domains — health, education, economic well-being, and family and community — that represent what children need most to thrive. Illinois ranks:

  • 10th in health. Illinois has been a national leader in providing children with access to health insurance. From 2010 to 2015, Illinois cut the uninsured rates for African-American and Latino children in half, from 6 percent to 3 percent, for both groups.
  • 13th in education. Early childhood education has been a bright spot for Illinois. Less than half of 3- and 4-year olds do not attend school, ranking the state fifth in this indicator. However, the state still has significant work to do to close the achievement and attainment gaps that exist between low-income and minority students from their white and more affluent peers.
  • 25th in economic well-being. Illinois families continue to struggle with economic security. Although more kids’ parents are now working full-time, year-round jobs than in 2010, the percentage of children living in poverty has not changed when comparing the height of the Great Recession in 2010 to 2015 data.
  • 28th in the family and community domain. Illinois has made great strides in reducing the teen birth rate. There were more than 6,000 fewer teen births in 2015 than in 2010. But there are still far too many children living in high-poverty areas and in single-parent families.

The data show that key investments in health and early education have reduced racial disparities among children. Although Latino children still lag behind in preschool attendance, there is little difference between the percentage of African-American and white children who aren’t attending preschool. Additionally, all groups of kids are accessing health insurance at roughly the same rate. However, there is still work to do to lessen other disparities. For example, more than two-thirds of the half a million Illinois children living in poverty are children of color. If Illinois elected officials fail to enact a budget for a third year, we run the very real risk of causing disparities to grow and wiping out the progress we’ve made.

The 2017 KIDS COUNT Data Book with state-by-state rankings and supplemental data can be viewed at http://www.aecf.org/resources/2017-kids-count-data-book/.


Paid Sick Leave in Illinois

The Illinois House has passed legislation (HB 2771) that would provide paid sick leave to Illinois workers who currently have no such right.

While Cook County and the City of Chicago have approved ordinances on paid sick leave that become effective July 1, 2017, there are still 1.5 million Illinois workers without the right to paid sick days.

The  Healthy Workplace Act would allow an employee to accrue and use up to five paid sick days per year.

Momentum to provide more workers paid sick leave has been building throughout Illinois and the nation. The City of Chicago and Cook County approved their measures in 2016. That same year, Arizona, Vermont and Washington-passed laws ensuring access to paid sick leave to all workers in their states.  Paid sick leave is also the law in four other states (Connecticut, California, Massachusetts and Oregon).

Jurisdictions with Paid Sick Days[1]
State and District Effective Date of Statutes
Connecticut 2012
Washington DC 2014
California 2015
Massachusetts 2015
Oregon 2016
Vermont 2017
Arizona 2017
Washington 2018
County Effective Date of Statutes
Montgomery County, MD 2016
Cook County, IL 2017
City Effective Date of Statutes
San Francisco, CA 2007
Seattle, WA 2012
New York, NY 2014
Jersey City, NJ 2014
Newark, NJ 2014
Irvington, NJ 2015
Passaic, NJ 2015
East Orange, NJ 2015
Paterson, NJ 2015
Trenton, NJ 2015
Montclair, NJ 2015
Bloomfield, NJ 2015
Oakland, CA 2015
Philadelphia, PA 2015
Emeryville, CA 2015
Pittsburgh, PA 2015
Elizabeth, NJ 2016
Plainfield, NJ 2016
San Diego, CA 2016
Tacoma, WA 2016
New Brunswick, N.J 2016
Los Angeles, CA 2016
Morristown, NJ 2017
Berkeley, CA 2017
Spokane, WA 2017
Santa Monica, CA 2017
Minneapolis, MN 2017
St. Paul, MN 2017
Chicago, IL 2017

What is paid sick leave?

Paid sick leave allows workers to take time off to recover from illness, attend a doctor’s appointment, take care of a sick loved one, or stay home to take care of children when school is canceled without a loss in pay. Workers accrue paid sick days based on the number of hours they work. The more hours an employee works, the more hours they accrue.

What are the benefits of paid sick leave?

Both employers and workers benefit from earned sick leave by reducing turnover, increasing productivity, saving on healthcare costs, reducing the spread of disease, and providing more economic security for workers.

Paid sick leave is good for children. Parents without paid sick days are more than twice as likely as parents with paid sick days to send a sick child to school or day care.

Paid sick leave provides job and financial security for minority and low-wage workers, whom are most often in jobs that lack sick leave benefits and can least afford to forego a paycheck if they become ill or must care for a family member. In Illinois, roughly 1.6 million workers are in low-wage jobs making $12 or less per hour. While only 14.7% of the Illinois population is African-American and 16.9% of the Illinois population is Latino, 33.6% of African Americans and 44.3% of Latinos in Illinois earn $12/hour or less. These lower income workers are less likely to have access to paid sick days. Nationwide, 80.6% of low-wage workers lack a single day of paid sick leave. And less than half of Latino workers in the US (46 percent) have access to paid sick time compared to 60 percent for all workers.

Working to ensure healthy and productive employees, paid sick leave helps provide a healthy Illinois economy and strengthens the economic security of the state’s citizens.

Written by Militza M. Pagán
Consultant to Voices for Illinois Children

[1] Laws differ on types of employees covered, the number of work hours required to earn paid sick leave, and the maximum number of sick leave hours employees can accrue; a detailed chart of paid sick leave statutes can be at found at http://www.nationalpartnership.org/research-library/work-family/psd/paid-sick-days-statutes.pdf

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’ EITC Highlighted in Kids Count Data Book

EITC state fact sheet image for blog

Illinois’ Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is featured in the newly released 2014 Kids Count Data Book as an example of state policies that improve the economic well-being of children and families. The report, produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, highlights Voices and other advocates’ role in the enactment and expansion of the state EITC over the past two decades.

The Data Book describes why the EITC is so powerful:

EITCs offset income tax liability and may provide a wage supplement for parents with very low earnings…With nearly every dollar spent going directly to low-income working families, EITCs are one of the most cost-effective ways to fight child poverty.

More than 900,000 Illinois families — including nearly 1.2 million children — benefited from the $208 million that the state EITC put back into working families’ pockets in 2012. By increasing economic security for families, the EITC has been shown to have long-term benefits for children, including higher educational attainment and higher earnings as adults. 

The Kids Count Data Book also recognizes the ongoing efforts to double Illinois’ EITC. For more information on why doubling the EITC is so important, visit EITCWorks.org.

Posted to Blog, Child Welfare, EITC

A Tale of Two Budgets: The Good Budget

As mentioned in the previous post, the Governor has submitted both a “recommended” and “not recommended” budget for FY 2015. The recommended budget requires maintaining revenue from current income tax rates. This would prevent another round of deep budget cuts and would provide additional resources for some areas of the budget, including education and human services.

The stark contrast between the two budgets for FY 2015 highlights the dire consequences of the looming fiscal cliff for children, families, and communities in Illinois. The new revenue from income tax rates enacted in January 2011 was a significant step toward resolving the state’s prolonged fiscal crisis, although not a panacea. The state has been able to offset losses from various revenue sources that remain below pre-recession levels, cover mandated pension contributions, and substantially reduce the backlog of unpaid bills. We cannot make additional progress in achieving fiscal and social responsibility without maintaining stable and adequate revenue.

Here’s how key areas would fare under the “recommended” budget:

  • K-12 Education: In the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) budget, the appropriation for General State Aid would increase by $158 million (3.6%). GSA would still be prorated, however, with each school district receiving 91 percent of its “entitlement claim,” i.e., the amount it is entitled to receive under current funding formulas.  GSA was prorated at 89 percent in FY 2013 and FY 2014.
  • Early Childhood Education: Funding for the the Early Childhood Block Grant would be increased by $25 million (8%), which would restore funding to the FY 2012 level and enable preschool programs to serve about 5,000 additional children.
  • Special Education: Grants would increase by $17.5 million. Appropriations would be 1.2 percent higher than in FY 2014 but slightly lower than ISBE’s recommended funding level.
  • Bilingual Education: Funding, which has been flat for the past four years, would increase by $11.3 million (18%). The number of English language learners in Illinois public schools has increased at an average annual rate of 4.7 percent since 2005, but state appropriations for bilingual education have been flat for the past four years.
  • Financial Aid for College Students: Funding for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which provides financial aid for college students, would increase by $56.7 million (15%). Most of this increase is for the need-based Monetary Award Program (MAP).
  • Additional Staffing to Process Applications: The Dept. of Human Services is requesting funds for an additional 500 staff to process applications for medical assistance, income assistance, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  According to the Department, serious understaffing has resulted in caseloads exceeding 2,000 per workers in some parts of the state.
  • Child Care Assistance: Funding from the Dept. of Human Services would increase by $166 million. This additional funding would be used to reduce family copayments, raise payment rates for service providers, and cover carryover costs from the current fiscal year. Funding from all appropriated funds would be about 18 percent higher than in FY 2014.
  • Early Intervention: General Revenue Fund support would increase by $8 million (11%) for the Early Intervention program, which provides services and supports for families with children under age 3 who have diagnosed disabilities or developmental delays.  
  • Human Services: Most Dept. of Human Services programs that are hit by cuts of 24 percent in the “not recommended” budget would instead receive level funding — for example, TANF income assistance, individual care grants for children and adolescents with severe mental health conditions, home visiting programs, prenatal case management, afterschool programs, and delinquency prevention programs.
  • Dept. of Children and Family Services: General Revenue Fund appropriations for the Department of Children and Families would increase by $12.5 million (less than 2%). Funding would still be 20 percent below the FY 2009 level.
  • Dept. on Aging: Funding would increase by $139 million (13.5%).  Most of this growth would come from the Community Care Program and implementation of the Colbert consent decree, which requires transition of eligible individuals out of nursing homes.

In addition to assuming revenue from current income tax rates, the Governor’s recommended budget includes $451 million from two new special funds — the Fund for the Advancement of Education and the Commitment to Human Services Fund. Half of this revenue would be allocated to the State Board of Education and half to the Department of Human Services. 

As in the previous post, here is a summary chart showing for key programs for kids and families comparing the current funding vs. funding levels in both the “recommended” and “not recommended” budgets: 

Download (PDF, 300KB)


A Tale of Two Budgets: The Bad Budget

Governor Quinn has submitted two very different budgets to the General Assembly for FY 2015 — a “recommended” and “not recommended” budget. Under the State Budget Law, the Governor is required to submit a budget with revenue estimates based on relevant provisions of existing statutes. Accordingly, the not-recommended budget assumes that current income tax rates will be rolled back midway through the fiscal year. This version of the budget clearly shows the devastating consequences of the looming revenue collapse for children, families, and communities in Illinois. The recommended budget, which would require maintaining revenue from current income tax rates, is discussed in a the next blog post.

For past several years, more than half of the General Funds budget has been “mandatory” spending — medical assistance programs in the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, state employee group insurance, pension contributions, debt service, and statutory transfers into special state funds. In non-recommended FY 2015 budget submitted by the Governor, mandatory spending would increase by $472 million. The rest of the budget would be cut by more than $2 billion.  Education and human services would be especially vulnerable.

  • K-12 School Funding:  In the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) budget, General State Aid for public school districts is slated for a $450 million cut and would be at its lowest level since FY 2006. School districts hit hardest would be those that rely most on state funding — districts with low levels of property wealth and large concentrations of low-income students. These cuts would come at time when a growing number of school districts are struggling financially. A recent ISBE report shows that more than 60 percent of districts will have operating deficits in FY 2014, up from 49 percent in FY 2013. 
  • Early Childhood Funding:  The Early Childhood Block Grant, which supports preschool programs for 3- and 4-year olds, as well as developmental services for infants and toddlers, has already been cut by about $80 million since FY 2009. In FY 2014, an estimated 70,000 children will participate in state-funded preschool programs, down from 95,000 in FY 2009. The FY 2015 budget would reduce funding by another $18 million, which could result in another 4,000 young children losing access to preschool.
  • Special Education: Grants for special education would be cut by $186 million (12%). Funding for student transportation, which has declined by $130 million since FY 2010, would be cut by another $27 million in FY 2015.
  • Human Services:  The General Revenue Fund budget includes cuts of 24 percent for many programs serving children and families.  Affected programs include TANF income assistance, individual care grants for children and adolescents with severe mental health conditions, home visiting programs for at-risk families with young children (Healthy Families Illinois and Parents Too Soon), prenatal case management for low-income expectant mothers, afterschool programs, and delinquency prevention programs. 
  • Early Intervention: General Revenue Fund support for Early Intervention would be reduced by 16 percent. This program provides a broad array of services and supports for families with children under age 3 who have diagnosed disabilities or developmental delays.  
  • Dept. of Children and Family Services: For FY 2014, GRF appropriations for the Department of Children and Family Services were $193 million (22%) lower than in FY 2009. The FY 2015 budget would be reduced by another $87 million. These additional cuts could violate various consent decrees arising from federal class action lawsuits that require the state to maintain acceptable levels of child protection and foster care services.    

In some instances, these budget cuts could jeopardize federal funding. The federal TANF Block Grant, which Illinois uses for child care assistance, income assistance, and a variety of other programs, has a state maintenance-of-effort require­ment. The federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program also has a state maintenance-of-effort requirement. Early Intervention is a federal entitlement program under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; in order to receive federal funds, states must assure that services are available to all eligible children and their families.

Some of the projected cuts in education and human services could be offset by revenue from two new special state funds. Legislation enacted in 2011 established the Fund for the Advancement of Education and the Commitment to Human Services Fund.

Beginning in calendar year 2015, each of these funds will receive 1/30 of revenue from individual income taxes. Under the statute, resources in each fund (an estimated $200 million in FY 2015) is supposed to “supplement and not supplant” current levels of funding, although there no way of enforcing this provision.

At the same time, however, the not-recommended budget submitted by the Governor is based on revenue estimates that are $450 million higher than estimates from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, which have already been adopted by the General Assembly. According to analysis by the Fiscal Policy Center, even after accounting for the $400 million in special state funds, cuts in non-mandatory spending would still total about $2 billion. Unless revenue from current income tax rates is maintained, budget cuts in FY 2016 will be even more drastic.

Here is a summary chart showing for key programs for kids and families comparing the current funding vs. funding levels in both the “recommended” and “not recommended” budgets:

Download (PDF, 300KB)

Miller testifies before House Human Services Appropriations Committee

EMiller testifying House DHS

Last week, Emily Miller, Voices’ director of policy and advocacy, testified before the Illinois House Human Services Appropriations Committee. She urged Committee members to prioritize cost-effective interventions and strategies that improve children’s lives and contribute to efforts to address the state’s short- and long-term fiscal stability.

She also reiterated the urgent need for lawmakers to maintain current tax rates in order to prevent draconian cuts to families who have already suffered from more than $1 billion in cuts. To improve long-term fairness and sustainability, she also urged Committee members put a constitutional amendment to allow a fair tax, where those with lower incomes pay lower rates and those with higher incomes pay higher rates.

You can read Emily’s full testimony below:


Download (PDF, 824KB)