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Latino Policy Forum Response to Governor Pritzker’s FY23 Budget Proposal

Analysis on line items for education, immigration, housing, and other areas affecting Latinos in Illinois

By Latino Policy Forum staff

As the world enters year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Latino community faces an uphill climb to address the pandemic’s pervasive impact on areas including economic recovery, educational attainment, employment, public health, and mental health. In his FY23 State of the State and Budget Address on Wednesday, Governor JB Pritzker laid out a plan that elevated health and safety measures, including vaccination efforts, as keys to the state’s recovery.

In 2021, the Latino Policy Forum, alongside partners Illinois Unidos and the Illinois Latino Agenda 2.0, recommended a $1.3 billion investment in the Latino community using American Rescue Plan Act 2021 (ARPA) funds in the FY23 budget. The Forum commends Gov. Pritzker for including investments in some areas that we identified as essential—including public health, mental health, cash assistance, and Latino-owned small businesses—in the $45.4 billion budget proposal.

The Forum also applauds proposed investments to improve the State of Illinois’ fiscal standing. In addition, Gov. Pritzker proposes a one-time property tax rebate to provide $1 billion in tax relief, a tax freeze on groceries to provide $360 million in tax relief, and a freeze on a planned gas tax increase to provide an additional $135 million in tax relief. All these will provide some direct relief to all Illinois consumers.

There remains much room for additional investments in the budget to ensure that resources go to Illinois communities most impacted by COVID, and the Forum remains committed to advocating for the full, equitable recovery of our Latino community in Illinois. Below, the Forum outlines and provides analysis on critical line items from the FY23 proposed budget in education, housing, and immigration, and will continue to closely monitor these core areas moving forward.

Photo: Thomas J. Turney, The State Journal-Register


The Forum applauds the FY23 proposed budget’s significant investments in the Illinois human service and education system to support cradle-to-career programming. Access to high-quality education opportunities for Latinos and English Learners is critical as Latinos now make up 27 percent of Illinois’ public school students, according to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Thirteen percent of Illinois’ students are identified as English Learners (ELs), and 72 percent of the state’s ELs are Spanish-speaking.

The following are line items that the Forum is closely monitoring in the area of education:

  • Early Childhood Education: $54M increase to the Early Childhood Block Grant and reappropriation of $100M in the Early Childhood Education Construction Grant through the Rebuild Illinois grant program.

    • These investments expand access to high quality early learning environments by strengthening preschool services and building state capacity to update and expand new early learning facilities. While this is a tremendous stride forward, additional investments are needed to strengthen programs that comprise the entire early childhood system, including the Child Care Assistance Program, Early Intervention, and IDHS home visiting programs. These programs received level funding in the FY23 proposal. HB5005 and SB3810 elevate the importance of the need for additional appropriations during FY23 budget discussions.

    • The Pritzker administration has led a trailblazing effort to invest and support early childhood education (ECE) during challenging pandemic times. As Illinois considers expansion of preschool services, a robust ECE vision is necessary to be fully inclusive of our state’s ELs. According to ISBE, as of the 2018-19 school year 23 percent of students in state-funded preschool programs are designated ELs. A new University of Chicago Consortium on School Research study on ELs in ECE found that English Learners receiving full-day preschool for up to two years with specialized bilingual support had better attendance, reading and math grades, and test scores, and were more likely to demonstrate English proficiency in the third grade.

  • K-12 Education: $350M increase to Illinois Evidence-Based Funding.

    • This investment puts Illinois on the path to fully funding its schools. In 2017, Illinois passed the Evidence-Based Formula, which is expected to be funded by 2027. This funding mechanism changed the way Illinois prioritizes funding, leading to more equitably distributed resources to school districts serving high-need students.

  • Post-Secondary Education: $220M increase to the State Monetary Assistance Program and $2.3M increase to the Minority Teacher of Illinois Scholarship Program.

    • COVID-19 has exacerbated college enrollment, retention, and graduation disparities, especially for low-income students. In 2020, across the United States, 50 percent of Latino students 18 and older changed or canceled college plans compared to 26 percent of white students. With Latinos leading Illinois population growth, it is imperative that we address the college pipeline leak. Short-term economic disparities during the pandemic forcing Latinos to postpone or cancel college plans will lead to long-term disparities. Equity concerns and shortages across fields including educators, mental health professionals, and STEM workers demand that we support Latino students to enroll in and successfully complete college. These investments are critical.



While the Forum commends the Pritzker Administration’s overall proposed increased FY23 investments in the immigrant community, there are still areas that can benefit from further investment, especially as the detrimental effects of COVID-19 ripple through the community. Given that 16 percent of noncitizens in the US are living below the poverty line, investments in immigrant-focused social services, emergency assistance, and legal aid will be needed to foster community well-being and to increase housing and economic stability for immigrant families in Illinois.

The following are line items that the Forum is closely monitoring in the area of immigration:

  • Welcoming Centers: $85M General Revenue allocation, a proposed reappropriation of $55M from FY22 COVID-19 appropriations, and a $1.3M reappropriation from FY22 for the United African Organization Welcoming Center for a combined total of $141.3M for FY23.

    • This is a necessary increase. There are roughly 36 organizations that serve as Illinois Welcoming Centers, providing important support and resources to immigrants, refugees, and Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals throughout Illinois.

  • Access to Justice: Decreased proposed funding from $14M to $10M, with Westside Justice Center and The Resurrection Project each receiving $5M.

    • We support The Resurrection Project’s demand for an increase of $10M for a total of $20M to this budget line item. The Resurrection Project’s Access to Justice Program (A2J) specifically focuses on assisting immigrant families, and in the past year has been leading an eviction-prevention program in addition to the A2J immigration legal representation and education program.

  • Immigrant Integration Services: $30M proposed allocation for this budget line item, which houses both the Immigrant Family Resource Program (IFRP) and the New Americans Initiative (NAI).

    • The Immigrant Family Resource Program (IFRP) helps immigrant families access eligible public benefits, and the New Americans Initiative (NAI) helps Legal Permanent Residents apply for naturalization and supports individuals renewing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Funding to this line item has previously been used to fund a COVID-19 Immigrant Family Support Project that provided cash assistance to immigrant families ineligible for federal relief and struggling to make ends meet. 

    • We strongly support the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) in their request for an increase of $23M, for a total of $53M allocated, in order to continue to provide support for the growing need of the immigrant and refugee community and to maintain the COVID-19 Immigrant Family Support Project.

  • Legal Assistance to Migrants: $4.2M reappropriation from FY22 COVID-19 appropriations.

    • This line item was new last year and reappropriated this year after not being used. The Forum will continue to monitor this line item and specific planning for these funds.



The Governor’s FY23 proposed budget maintains funding for several housing programs and helps ease the tax burden on low- and middle-income homeowners. Other important programs, like the IDHS eviction mitigation program, received reduced or level funding in the FY23 proposed budget. While continued investment in homelessness prevention services are moderately increased, additional funding is necessary to keep the community stably housed and to assist the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following are line items that the Forum is closely monitoring in the area of housing:

  • Property Tax Rebate: Proposed property tax rebate of 5 percent of paid property taxes (up to $300).

    • This will help ease the tax burden on all low- and middle-income homeowners, including Latino homeowners who are still recovering from the pandemic and are overburdened with housing costs.

  • Homelessness: $156.5M, an increase of $5M, for homelessness prevention, emergency and transitional housing, and housing support services through the Department of Human Services.

    • The Forum welcomes the $5M increase, but additional state funding is still needed to ensure Latinos have equitable access to crucial homelessness prevention and mitigation services.  

  • Eviction Mitigation: $10M in state funds for IDHS’ Eviction Mitigation Program, a sharp reduction from the $25M it received in FY22.

  • Emergency Rental Assistance: $98M investment in the Department of Human Services’ Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), an increase of $6M from FY22.

    • We applaud this investment, especially since Latino participation in other state ERAP programs has lagged that of other racial/ethnic groups. The IDHS program has been successful in reaching disadvantaged and neglected communities, and increased funding should be allocated to ensure that community partners have the capacity to continue serving their communities’ emerging needs.


Other Areas

Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC) Expansion

The Latino Policy Forum is part of the Coalition to Make EIC Work, which is led by Economic Security for Illinois. The Forum is disappointed that the FY23 proposed budget did not include EIC expansion. Expanding EIC would give 4.5 million Illinoisans much-needed cash assistance and more cash at tax time. The expansion would create an Illinois Child Tax Credit, increase the credit amount, and include young adults ages 18-24, older adults 65 and over, and people who file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The Forum will work with legislators to advocate for the passage of HB4920 and SB3774, legislation that would allow the EIC expansion to occur.

Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) Program

The Forum applauds the FY23 proposed investment of $125M in R3 Grants, which provide resources to organizations in communities impacted by economic disinvestment, violence, and damage caused by the war on drugs. This is an increase of $50M from FY22. The Forum will continue working with the R3 board to advocate that these funds are equitably distributed to communities in need, to facilitate equitable inclusion of Latino-serving organizations in this grant process, and to better serve the Latino community through this program.

Health Equity

Illinois Unidos is encouraged to hear of the numerous investments and commitments related to addressing the COVID-19 crisis, which has put unprecedented strain on our community. Dr. Ngoze Izeke’s commitment to making health equity a central focus of the Illinois Department of Public Health is critical as our state and nation’s communities of color, including its Latino communities, continue to be disproportionately devastated by the pandemic. Illinois Unidos appreciates Gov. Pritzker’s commitment to hiring a Chief Behavioral Health Officer, as well as his recognition of the importance of community health workers, or promotoras de salud. Promotoras are trusted, community-embedded sources of health information. Their shared values and lived experiences make them bridges between community members and formal resources, particularly for communities of color and those without health insurance. The proposed $2.5M investment in their recruitment and credentialing is an important investment in demystifying COVID misinformation. 

In his speech, Gov. Pritzker indicated that one of his top priorities is to continue to protect the most vulnerable in the state. The data is clear: the Latino community is among our state’s most vulnerable. As the State of Illinois continues to find ways to recover from the pandemic, it must continue to ensure that recovery efforts are equitably allocated to Latinos across Illinois. The Forum pledges to continue to monitor each of the proposed measures above and to work with Illinois General Assembly members on each of these issue areas to ensure that the state’s budget reflects the Latino community’s needs.

Analysis for this response was written by Erika Méndez, Sarah Cartagena, Edwin Ortiz Reyes, Roberto Valdez Jr., Isabella Hurtado, Vanessa Peña, Edwin Ortiz Reyes, José Marco-Paredes, Rosario Hernandez, Alejandra Ibañez, and Sylvia Puente of the Latino Policy Forum, with additional analysis from Esther Nieves.