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Forum Response to Governor JB Pritzker’s FY22 Budget Proposal

Our takeaways from Governor Pritzker’s proposed state budget for a year of healing

By Forum Staff

In his third State of the State Address, Governor JB Prtizker proposed a Fiscal Year (FY22) budget that reflects the struggle of overcoming challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been described as one the most difficult budgets that the Illinois state government has had to design.

The Governor proposed a $41.6 billion balanced budget with no income tax increase for Illinoisans and a call to close corporate tax loopholes and decouple Illinois from federal tax provisions that produce revenue options for state investments. Governor Pritzker’s FY22 budget also asks for continued funding for critical services to protect hardworking families and support communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. In order to do this work, the Governor emphasized the need to fully support agencies on the frontline battle against the coronavirus, including Departments of Human Services, Public Health, and Economic Security.

Continued small business investments, support for unemployment programs, preserving K-12 and higher education funding, and protecting the social safety net, which last year provided housing assistance programs to over 55,000 Illinois homeowners and renters, were also priorities highlighted by Governor Pritzker.

The Forum would also like to elevate the issues brought forth in the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus response to the Governor’s FY22 budget proposal that impact the state’s Latino community, including health, economic, education, and immigrant services. You can watch the Latino Caucus briefing in its entirety here.

The reality remains that the fiscal standing of the State of Illinois continues to be complex, with plenty of budget restraints and instability stemming from lack of years of consistent revenue streams and program investments. Moving forward, the Forum will closely monitor investments in the core areas of education, housing, and immigration.

FY22 EDUCATION INVESTMENTS

While Education makes up a significant portion of our state’s social infrastructure (20.8 percent of the state’s total expenditure for K-12 funding alone), the Governor’s proposed budget falls short of critical education investments needed to put the state on the road for long-term recovery. Significant learning disruptions continue, while families grapple with the harsh social and economic implications of the pandemic. For Black and Latino children, these challenges are multiplied and follow years of disinvestment.

Governor Pritzker is a friend to education and has supported important measures needed to get Illinois children access to equitable education opportunities. The challenges of COVID-19 have certainly impeded the good work underway in his office. It is now more important than ever to build on this work and invest in targeted cradle-to-career programming. Below, the Forum  highlights different investment areas where additional consideration should be given.

Early Childhood, Illinois State Board of Education

  • The earlier the investments, the better. The Governor is a staunch advocate for early exposure to high-quality learning opportunities, as these early experiences are tied to positive life outcomes. While the Governor’s proposed budget flat-funds the State Board of Education’s Early Childhood Block Grant, advocates continue to promote a $50 million dollar investment to this grant given the efforts underway to expand and improve quality learning opportunities within our Preschool For All, Preschool For All expansion, and Prevention Initiative programs. Increased investments will allow the state to strive toward compensation parity, provide additional social-emotional support for families, and provide increased opportunities for professional development.

Early Childhood, Illinois Department of Human Services

Governor Pritzker set a visionary goal for Illinois to “become the best state in the nation for families raising young children, with the nation’s best early childhood education and child care.” Since then, he has protected programs and providers across the state to continue providing necessary services to children and families. For Illinois to build on its legacy as a national leader in this effort, and on the work of the Early Childhood Funding Commission, the state has a unique opportunity to really forge a path towards equity. Without investments now, this work and momentum stalls. We need to continue building momentum towards a well-resourced early care and education system. For Black, Latino, and English Learner children, high-quality programs improve life outcomes. While we saw proposed flat funding and cuts to several early care and education programs in the Governor’s proposed budget for IDHS, we implore consideration for the following investments:

  • The Governor’s FY22 introduced budget proposes $1.69 billion for Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP) ($410 million GRF). The Governor’s office plans to make up the difference in resources with an approximate $400 Million in expected federal relief. We recommend the Governor invest $430 Million into the CCAP program, the backbone of our state. This investment allows us to keep co-pays for families low at $1, increases provider rates, and builds in additional scholarship supports and opportunities.

  • The introduced budget includes a $2 Million increase to Healthy Families and Parents Too Soon. An additional $2 Million increase ($4 Million total) is needed to ensure we are able to increase the wages of home visitors and are able to increase caseloads during this time.

  • While some programs received flat funding, critical programs like Early Intervention (EI) saw a 6 percent cut to programming. We urge the Governor to reconsider this funding proposal, given that home visitors are often our first line of contact for families accessing ECE programs and provide vital safety-net supports needed during these difficult and confusing times. We recommend a $25 Million increase to EI services to accommodate growing caseload, increase provider reimbursement rates, and maintain a telehealth delivery model.

Evidence-Based Funding, Illinois State Board of Education

The state has an obligation to fairly fund public schools and ensure equitable access to quality educational programming. Illinois has had substantial strides towards meeting this goal and achieving equitable resource allocation for districts across the state. However, in the current climate, Governor Pritzker is recommending flat funding for Evidence-Based Funding (EBF). This proposal stalls our progress as a state towards adequately funding all schools by 2027.

  • While federal relief provides our state with resources to bridge the gaps in our system, it is not enough to go above and beyond for our children and families. This federal relief is meant to complement local efforts and is not a sustainable way to take us into the future. 

  • This federal relief should not supplant funding for our state government, but supplement existing efforts to ensure children and their families are thriving during these challenging times. Reliance on federal support could cause greater instability for the over 800 school districts in the state and impede efforts to wrap around students and families with support during this disruptive period.

  • This is especially true for Tier 1 and Tier 2 school districts facing cuts to critical student and family supports during tough financial times, who are often so resource-challenged. The Forum pays special consideration to how Latinos and English Learners fare under EBF. Forum analysis finds that 82 percent of Latinos reside in low-resource communities in Illinois. Similarly, 86 percent of English Learners reside in low-resource communities. Under EBF, districts receive additional resources to support the academic achievement for these students’ subgroups.

  • It is imperative that the state invest a minimum of $350 Million into Evidence-Based Funding and $50 Million for our Early Childhood Block Grant. The proposed level funding may have great implications for how we see ourselves out of this dark spot in time and will prolong our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Higher Education, Illinois Student Assistance Commission

State investments in our pre-K–12th grade system are critical to ensure students in Illinois receive high-quality education opportunities. However, the shortage of educators available to provide students with robust high-quality learning opportunities is dwindling. Many communities have experienced demographic shifts in the students who come from immigrant families. These students have a range of native- and English-language proficiency, or they come from families who may be unfamiliar with how to navigate U.S. schools. Their educational experience serves as a critical conduit for how they will integrate into society. The preparedness of educators to build on student linguistic and cultural strengths will have a major impact on the future of Illinois.

  • We applaud Governor Pritzker for increasing the MAP Grant program by $28 million. This increase could reach 9-12,000 additional students. Investments in these critical programs expand opportunities for our workforce as a state.

  • The Forum stands with the state’s Black and Latino Caucus in their request to increase the Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship Program by $4.2 million. This funding would increase scholarship amounts from $5K to $7.5K per candidate and create a set-aside for candidates seeking to become bilingual teachers. The minimum needed to elevate these changes in the program is $2.85 Million.

FY22 IMMIGRATION INVESTMENTS

The Forum is encouraged that the Governor’s proposed FY22 budget has maintained the FY21 increase in funding for immigrant-serving programs that the Forum and immigrant-serving organizations advocated for last legislative session. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a particularly harmful effect on Latino immigrant families, who face structural barriers to accessing health care and economic security. Uplifting and strengthening Illinois immigrant families by investing in these crucial linguistically and culturally appropriate programs are necessary for immigrants to survive the pandemic and for the Illinois economy to recover.

Governor Pritzker proposed level funding of $30M for Immigrant Integration Services. Maintaining this funding will allow immigrant-serving community organizations to continue to properly serve their communities. A portion of these funds went to providing needed cash assistance to families who were left out of federal relief last year. Cash assistance is every bit as urgent this year, if not moreso, as many families have endured months of reduced income and increased health expenses. For this reason, the Forum supports a considerable increase to this budget line item.

Programs under the Immigrant Integration Service line item include:

  • Immigrant Family Resource Program (IFRP), which helps immigrant families access eligible public benefits and appropriate human services

  • New Americans Initiative (NAI), which helps legal permanent residents apply for naturalization and assists with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewals

The Governor also proposed level funding of $5M for the Illinois Welcoming Centers. Last year’s increased investment allowed the state to expand 14 Welcoming Centers to areas with high-immigrant populations. This level funding will allow these new Welcoming Centers to continue their work of strengthening the immigrant community’s social safety net.

  • Welcoming Centers provide holistic services to ensure immigrants access to state programs, healthcare, childcare, education, and employment.

Governor Pritzker’s proposed budget also maintains the Access to Justice Grant Program that provides legal and community-based support to immigrants at $10M. 

The Forum is heartened by the Governor’s recommended state investments in these programs, as they are critical to ensure that immigrants in Illinois have equitable access to public benefits and assistance. We also appreciate and support our immigrant-serving allies and immigrant advocates, who strongly advocated for these investments and are providing critical assistance and services during this difficult time.

FY22 HOUSING INVESTMENTS

The Forum acknowledges and appreciates the support that Governor Pritzker and his administration, along with the General Assembly, provided around housing access and relief for all Illinoisans during the pandemic, including the Latino community and undocumented immigrants. The Governor’s FY22 proposal generally builds on this, with investments in programs and services addressing housing relief, affordable housing, and homelessness prevention. The Forum is committed to ensuring that all members of the Latino community, regardless of income or immigration status, have access to safe, quality, affordable housing options, and supports the important funding increases that Governor Pritzker proposes.

Last year, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) provided $324 million in emergency rental and mortgage assistance helping families with security against eviction and foreclosures. The FY22 budget request includes funding to support continuation of the Eviction Mitigation program launched in FY21. The program offers rental assistance, legal assistance, case management, and community outreach to Illinois households meeting defined income thresholds. It is supported by IHDA, IDHS, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and other state agencies and partners.

  • IDHS received $145 million for the Eviction Mitigation Program for outreach, case management, and legal assistance to individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, the State of Illinois is expected to distribute more than $665 million to support eviction mitigations.

  • The majority of the program funding will be from federal COVID-19 relief funds: 

    • $567 million from the Emergency Rental Assistance award

    • $36 million from the Community Development Block Grant 

    • $17 million from the Emergency Solution Grant Round II award

  • In addition to the federal funds, the IDHS FY22 budget request includes a $25 million general-funds investment for the program and other social services.

The following Homelessness Prevention, Emergency and Transitional Housing, and Housing Support Services line items will be closely monitored as they go through the General Assembly for approval:

  • Emergency transitional and supportive housing services and Rental and Mortgage Assistance:

    • DCFS FY22 proposed budget stays level from FY21 at $3,313,700 

    • IDHS FY22 proposed budget stays level from FY21 at $130,374.80

Illinois has few multi-lingual organizations that can provide housing assistance to Spanish speakers, despite the fact that approximately 17 percent of the state’s population is Latino and that Spanish is spoken in about 14 percent of all homes. One shortcoming of the proposed FY22 budget proposal is that it does not include $150,000 in funding for “Prevention and Assistance for Families at Risk of Homelessness.” Without this funding, individuals with little to no English proficiency are at a disproportionate disadvantage for securing housing. Organizations like the Center for Changing Lives won’t be able to provide the multi-lingual housing assistance upon which many of them depend.

The Forum is committed to working with IHDA and Governor Pritzker’s office to ensure that Latinos, immigrants, and other communities in need receive an equitable share of these relief funds. The Forum will continue urging the Governor to extend his eviction moratorium order until people are able to receive rent and mortgage relief, and we will continue to monitor and support organizations that provide housing-related assistance for Latino families who are most in need during and after the pandemic.

Illinois has its work cut out for this upcoming year, one in which success will largely be measured by efficiency in delivering vaccines statewide, starting with the most severely impacted communities; ten of Illinois’ 15 most infected zip codes/geographic locales are majority-Latino communities. The Forum respects that Governor Pritzker likely “had bolder plans” for this budget prior to the pandemic and appreciates his emphasis on the imperative of getting vaccinated. We pledge to continue to monitor each of the proposed measures above, especially as vaccination becomes more widespread and as we begin to see our conditions improve, and to continue working with Illinois General Assembly members on each of these issue areas.

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