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Latino Policy Forum Response to Illinois Fiscal Year 2021 Budget

The Latino Policy Forum applauds the Illinois General Assembly for passing a Fiscal Year 2021 budget and other COVID-19 related legislation in a four-day span. Though the circumstances were challenging and unusual, the legislature stepped up to provide the people of Illinois with a bipartisan budget. Totaling over $40 billion, the FY21 budget includes a $5 billion line of credit from the U.S. Federal Reserve. 

The Forum is pleased that the FY21 budget will fund comprehensive health coverage for low-income immigrant seniors made especially vulnerable by the COVID-19 crisis, making Illinois the first state in the country to do so. The Forum also commends the passage of legislation to expand voting opportunities by mail for the 2020 General Election. 

The General Assembly granted Governor Pritzker pandemic authority. The measure is meant to safeguard the well-being of all Illinoisans. However, there are questions regarding additional federal aid and guidance as states begin re-opening and assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Damage caused by the pandemic has been especially acute for Illinois’ communities of color, both in terms of physical and economic health. 

The Latino Policy Forum is sensitive to the challenges that government and lawmakers face in balancing needed investment to mitigate the harm of the pandemic, while managing our state’s disquieting fiscal reality. The Forum stands in partnership with the state government, not only as we think forwardly about economic recovery, but as we re-imagine an Illinois that is responsive to the inequities faced by black and brown communities. 

The Forum actively advocated for the following:

FY21 Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) budget:

The state has an obligation to fairly fund public schools and ensure equitable access to quality educational programming. Investments in education are critical as the state begins to address the disruptions caused by the pandemic. As a result of the crisis, Illinois schools will require additional support and guidance to meet the growing demands of students. The state must diligently work to equip school professionals with tools and resources to provide students with social-emotional support and to accelerate academic learning.

  • Given current budgetary constraints, the FY21 budget provided level funding for Evidence-Based Formula. In 2017, the General Assembly committed to a minimum increase of $350 Million every fiscal year to make progress on our state adequacy figure by 2027. Advocates requested a minimum of $350M for Illinois schools to provide summer school, extended learning time, and social-emotional resources that students will need to manage the outcomes of the pandemic. In the coming years, state leaders will have to come together and think forwardly about how we reach our funding goal by 2027.
  • In February, the Pritzker administration proposed a $50M increase to the Early Childhood Block Grant. Given the budget constraints facing our state, the Early Childhood Block Grant will receive flat funding ($543.8M) into FY21.  Despite level funding, the Forum remains encouraged by the resilience of the early care system and the administration’s commitment to this important work. Moving forward, advocates will work alongside the Governor and the Illinois Early Childhood Funding Commission to reimagine what is needed to build a high-quality early childhood system that meets the needs of our youngest learners.

FY21 Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) budget:

Supporting Illinois’ working families, especially Latinos, through these programs will result in a stronger, more resilient economy.

The following increases are critical to highlight:

Early Care and Education

  • Level funding for the Child Care Assistance Program($430.6 M). This includes funding received by the federal government through the CARES act, totaling $118M. This federal funding can be used to cover FY20 and FY21 COVID-related expenses. The Forum anticipates that additional investments for child care may be needed given some of the challenges ensued by the pandemic. Child care providers will require support implementing new safety guidelines and reduced capacity, while also juggling demand for their services. The state budget did not allocate additional investments that will likely be required to ensure providers and families are not lost in the transition of re-opening the state
  • $7M increase to Early Intervention Program services for children with developmental delays. This increased investment will accommodate growing demand for early intervention services and alleviate provider caseloads.
  • Level funding to Healthy Families and the Parents Too Soon programs, which provides vital support services to new and growing families.


The Latino Policy Forum forms part of the Emergency Assistance for Illinois Families Coalition, which called on the General Assembly to create a program to provide one-time relief payments to mixed-status families and other vulnerable populations.

Although this program was not adopted, we commend the General Assembly for investing roughly $97M in our immigrant communities and prioritizing services and assistance that are delivered in a culturally and linguistically responsive manner. Immigrant families have been some of Illinois’ most vulnerable and marginalized residents, experiencing a disproportionate health and economic burden during COVID-19.

The Illinois Welcoming Centers will receive $67M, an increase of roughly $65M. $32M dollars will come from the State Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency Fund to assist those directly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Welcoming Centers provide linguistic and culturally sensitive assistance to ensure immigrants can meet immediate needs and access state programs, healthcare, childcare, education, and employment.

Immigration Integration Services will receive $30M, an increase of $23.5M.

  •  This budget line item includes services such as the Immigrant Family Resource Program (IFRP), which helps immigrant families access eligible public benefits, and the New Americans Initiative (NAI), which helps Legal Permanent Residents apply for naturalization and assists with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewals.

The Illinois Migrant Council will receive a $90,000 grant to continue to provide emergency and social services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers, who are essential workers critical to Illinois’ infrastructure and who have limited access to assistance.

The Access to Justice Program, which provides legal services, representation and other supportive services to immigrants facing deportation, will maintain level funding at $10M.


The Forum is hopeful these investments will help address disparities in our immigrant communities and support social and economic progress. We congratulate Raise the Floor Alliance, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), the Illinois Cost-of-Living Refund Coalition and our legislators who championed these efforts.



This section includes mention of the following departments: IDHS, IL Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR), Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) and Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA)

The Forum is pleased to see that the General Assembly allocated more funding to Housing services in the FY21 budget passed. Given our commitment to ensure all members of the Latino community, regardless of income, have access to safe, quality, affordable housing options, and considering the housing crisis being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Forum supports these timely and much-needed funding increases in the following housing areas:

  • Homelessness Prevention:
    • Emergency transitional and supportive housing services and Rental and Mortgage Assistance
      • DCFS FY21 general assembly’s budget: $3,385,000. This amounts to an increase of $71,300 from the Governor’s proposed budget.
      • IDHS FY21 general assembly’s budget: $126,550,300. This amounts to an increase of $64,702,200 from the Governor’s proposed budget.
      • IDOR FY21 general assembly’s budget: $516,850,000. This amounts to an increase of $196,000,000 from the Governor’s proposed budget.
      • IDVA FY21 general assembly’s budget stayed the same at $240,000 from the Governor’s proposed budget.
  • Homelessness Support
    • IDHS FY21 general assembly budget: $14,231,900. This amounts to an additional $7,454,400 from the Governor’s proposed budget.
    • IDVA FY21  general assembly budget stayed the same at $819,100 from the Governor’s proposed budget.
  • The FY21 general assembly’s budget for the line items above totaled $393,848,400, which is an increase of $268,227,900 from the Governor’s proposed budget. 

Overall, compared to FY20, the recently approved FY21 budget allocates the following increases in funds:

  • $2,071,300 to the IDCFS for their Norman Services (cash-assistance and housing-locator services to families in classes defined in the Norman consent decree), some of which help low-income families find affordable housing.
  • $64,926,100 to IDHS for their housing programs and services.
    • This includes the 10 percent increase in funding to the Homelessness Prevention Fund that Gov. Pritzker had already proposed.
    • We are pleased to see that the $150,000 for the “Prevention and Assistance for Families at Risk of Homelessness” line item has been restored. 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. The restoration of this funding will allow organizations like the Center for Changing Lives (CCL) to provide the multi-lingual housing assistance, upon which many immigrant households depend to secure affordable housing.
  • $7,787,300 between IDHS and IDVA to specifically serve homeless populations.
  • $396,000,000 from the State Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency Fund to IDOR for IHDA to provide affordable housing grants for emergency rental and mortgage assistance for persons impacted by COVID-19. We know that before the pandemic began, rental housing cost burden was already high in Illinois Black and Latino communities (59 percent and 49 percent respectively); thus, this funding for housing assistance is needed more than ever.

The Forum is disappointed that the General Assembly did not approve HB 5574 and SB 3066, two pieces of comprehensive emergency housing relief legislation that would have protected tenants and homeowners by extending the current moratorium on evictions and expanding forbearance of mortgage payments. Yet, we applaud the creation of a fund to provide emergency rental and mortgage assistance grants to tenants and homeowners impacted by the pandemic.

The Forum is committed to working with IHDA and Gov. 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. The Forum will continue to monitor and support organizations that provide housing-related assistance for Latino families who are most in need during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.



A $14.5M line item was included in the IDHS budget to fund census outreach work for communities where the State's investment can have the greatest impact in increasing self-reporting. This is the full amount that was included in the Governor's proposed budget, and the amount that the State Census Office had asked our coalition to support. The Forum continues its Census 2020 outreach work to ensure there is an accurate count for Latinos and other hard-to-count communities.



The Forum will continue monitoring federal legislation around COVID-19 relief, as well as how state funds are allocated through the Governor’s newly appointed pandemic authority. In addition, the Forum looks forward to the upcoming fall veto session to ensure investments in the Latino community remain equitable and to flag unwarranted changes in the state budget and other COVID-19 related policies.