Statement from Early Childhood Advocates on Continued State Budget Impasse

From:  Illinois Action for Children
Ounce of Prevention Fund

We are 11 months – eleven months – into this fiscal year and Illinois is no closer to having a FY16 budget than it was on July 1, 2015. Furthermore, we are one month from the deadline for an FY17 budget that is nowhere in sight either.

The latest round of negotiations between the Governor and legislators culminated Tuesday night in yet another failure. No budget—stopgap or full-year—was passed.

Instead of setting aside differences and agendas to pass a budget that adequately funds the services and programs that children and working families depend on, everyone involved has left these critical services in a continued state of uncertainty and unpredictably. Again.

The failure to reach an agreement on a responsible budget that includes sustainable revenue means that child care centers serving the children of tens of thousands of low-income, working parents will once again stop receiving funding.  Home visiting programs reaching thousands of expectant parents, infants and toddlers will remain unfunded for a second year, with many programs unable to continue operating.

The lack of any appropriation for children birth to age 5 in our state’s Preschool for All program and K-12 system means schools will not have any funding for the fall unless something changes. The foundation of higher education will continue to crumble, leaving thousands of university and community college students without MAP grants and impacting the early childhood education future workforce.  Teen REACH, homeless prevention, and domestic violence services will all go without funding again. The list goes on.

Prolonging the fiscal impasse will only deepen and extend the pain to children, families and communities – and the domino effect on the state’s economy will be felt for years to come. We have seen vulnerable children and families bear the brunt of our state’s budget problems before, but never at a time when the service-delivery infrastructure is already incredibly fragile and on the very edge of collapse. Many social services providers in Illinois have not been paid since July 1, but have continued to provide services in good faith. There is a bill before Governor Rauner that would provide emergency stopgap funds to help keep these providers afloat while we await a complete budget, and we urge him to sign SB2038 immediately.

We elect our leaders to represent the interests and needs of all residents of Illinois. We do not elect them to wait for the next primary…the next election…the next school year…

By failing to pass a budget for FY16 and FY17, our elected leaders have shown a lack of political courage while children and families pay the price. Legislators have indicated that they will work through June to find a compromise. We call on the governor and General Assembly, regardless of political affiliation, to live up to their commitment and responsibilities and immediately pass a budget that adequately reflects and fully funds our state’s needs and long-held priorities.

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