FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 2012
Kimberly Drew 312-296-2188Policy Associate, Heartland AllianceAl Riddley 217-522-2378 X2202Executive Director, Illinois Coalition for Community Services
Proposed Deep State Budget Cuts to Vital Programsfor People in Poverty will Greatly Exacerbate Hardship
Illinois Must Rethink Budget Priorities
CHICAGO –The From Poverty to Opportunity Campaign, coordinated by Heartland Alliance, reports that theproposed state budget for fiscal year 2013 released by Governor Quinn on February 22, 2012 poses manythreats to people in poverty, at a time when need is growing. Poverty, worse in Illinois today than during therecession, grew from pre-to post-recession by 16 percent. In fact, poverty in Illinois is at its highest point indecades.The Illinois Commission on the Elimination of Poverty has developed a plan to cut extreme poverty in half whichincludes detailed recommendations to ensure opportunity for the most vulnerable in Illinois. “Unfortunately theproposed state budget takes Illinois further away from this achievable goal,” said Al Ridley, Executive Director of Illinois Coalition for Community Services. “It now falls to the General Assembly to produce a state budget that doesnot increase poverty above the record levels in Illinois and does not drive people already in poverty into an evendeeper hole.”Over the last decade the state has cut its real investment in programs that help people experiencing povertymeet need basic needs and get out of poverty collectively by more than $4.4 billion. The Governor’s fiscal year2013 budget proposal continues the pattern of devastating cuts to programs that protect the most vulnerableand support them in keeping a roof over their head and food on their table.
The budget includes a proposed cut of $2.7 billion from the Medicaid program, a staggering amount.The proposed budget does not specify how this will be accomplished nor is there any way it can beaccomplished without doing great harm to the low-income Illinoisans for whom Medicaid is their onlyoption for health care.
It also includes a $56 million cut to the child care assistance program for low-income parents who workor go to school in addition to significant increases in parent co-payments and lowering income eligibilityat intake from 185% to 150% of the federal poverty line, which would make paying for childcareinfeasible for many and disqualify others from participation.
The proposed budget slashes half of the funding for emergency and transitional housing for peopleexperiencing homelessness, at a time when homelessness is expected to increase.
The proposed closing/consolidation of 24 Illinois Department of Human Services offices will considerablyreduce access to public services for Illinoisans in need – including reduced access to the SupplementaryNutritional Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.
The budget also includes a proposal to reduce lifetime eligibility for Temporary Assistance to NeedyFamilies from five to three years. This change would especially harm families with multiple barriers toemployment and is unrealistic given today’s job market and economy.- more -