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The Latino Policy Forum’s Response to FY22 Passed State Budget and Legislation Impacting Latinos in Illinois

Key takeaways in education, immigration, housing, redistricting, and other areas critical to the well-being of Illinois and its Latino community

By Latino Policy Forum staff

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Earlier this week, the Illinois General Assembly passed a $42.3 billion budget, in addition to other key pieces of legislation, that will be critical to the well-being of all Illinoisans. The General Assembly and state leadership made a concerted effort to pass a balanced budget that closed corporate tax loopholes, which will generate revenue for public services in the years to come. The Forum applauds these efforts and the investments in education, housing, health and human services, immigration, and other public services that are key to the prosperity of Latinos in Illinois and the state at large.

Approximately $5.5B of American Rescue Plan Act funds remain available for appropriation. This federal relief was provided to help the most impacted and vulnerable communities from COVID-19 and all its fallout. Equity for the Black and Latino communities must be prioritized as we deliberate and plan for post-COVID recovery.

The Forum also applauds those who took leadership on securing the passage of an omnibus bill package (an amendment to SB825) that further solidifies Illinois as a national example of facilitating easy voting in elections. While some other states are passing laws to disenfranchise voters, this bill lays out rules that make it easier for Illinoisans to receive and submit their mail-in ballots. In addition, the Forum celebrates the passage of the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEACH) Act, which is the nation’s first school mandate on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) history.

Our response outlines key wins in the state budget, as well as areas where additional investments are needed within the state’s General Revenue Funds and federal funding as it becomes available. The Forum looks forward to our continued partnership with state lawmakers and agencies to elevate these important items.

Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) budget

States have an obligation to fairly fund public schools and ensure equitable access to quality educational programming. Investments in education are especially critical as the state begins to address the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Districts and programs across the state have received federal funding to support education and implement safety measures to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Illinois has received over $8B throughthe Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Below are the key takeaways from the FY22 state budget:


Areas for Additional Investment

• $350M increase to the Illinois Evidence-Based Formula. In 2017, the General Assembly committed to a minimum increase of $350M every fiscal year to make progress on our state adequacy figure by 2027.
• Level funding for the Early Childhood Block Grant ($543.8M). While we are excited about significant investment in our state education funding system, it is critical that we strengthen funding and capacity building for the entire continuum of learning, including early education.

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 Department of Human Services has committed federal relief to support social safety net programs throughout the pandemic, supplementing ongoing state funding efforts. The Forum would like to highlight the following investment areas.

Illinois Early Care and Education:

Wins Areas for Additional Invetment
• Passage of HB3620, which codifies income eligibility as 200 percent of the federal poverty level for the Child Care Assistance Program. • Level funding for the Healthy Families and Parents Too Soon programs, which provide vital support services to new and growing families. While Illinois did receive $12M in one-time flexible federal funding for Parents Too Soon, this line item was level funded and requires additional state investment. Advocates recommended a $4M increase.
  • $20M cut to the Child Care Assistance Program ($410.6 M). Illinois received $1.3B in one-time federal funding and permanent increases to the Child Care Development Block Grant. Federal funding should supplement state funding, however, not supplant it.
• $7M cut to the Early Intervention Program services for children with developmental delays. Illinois received $5M in one-time federal funding. Despite one-time flexible federal funding for Early Intervention, cuts to such a critical program are destabilizing for the field. State investments must be significantly increased.

While one-time American Rescue Plan Act relief provided programs with additional support to accommodate changes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, state investments in these areas are needed to build on the early-care and education vision set by the state.

Illinois Higher Education:
The importance of higher education was elevated during the pandemic, given the critical role it plays in preparing the future workforce. Even prior to the pandemic, the state had struggled in retaining staff that can provide children with robust, high-quality learning opportunities. Access to higher education programs and teacher-preparation support are essential factors as the state plans for supporting the future workforce of education, along with equity and racial and cultural diversity. While the state made strides to this end, there is important work to be done to improve access and affordability of these programs for candidates. Important highlights include: 
Wins Areas for Additional Investment
• $28M increase to the Monetary Award Program. This increase could reach 9,000 to 12,000 additional students. Investments in these critical programs expand opportunities for our workforce as a state. • Level funding for the Minority Teachers of Illinois (MTI) Scholarship Program ($1.9M). While we are tremendously excited about investments in higher education, MTI did not see an increased investment. The Forum advocated extensively to promote a $4.2M investment to MTI. These resources would have provided our state with opportunities to build the capacity of rising educators of color by increasing scholarship amounts from $5K to $7.5K per candidate and creating a set-aside for candidates seeking to become bilingual teachers. Further attention to this investment area is necessary to meet the growing demand for educators.
• $110M investment to begin the work of Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity. HB2878 (Stuart/Pacione-Zayas) establishes a consortium between public universities and community colleges to coordinate and collaborate on improving access to associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees and certificates; Gateways credentials; and other licensure endorsements needed to teach in early childhood settings.   


The Forum commends the General Assembly for making historic strides for the immigrant community during this legislative session. We would like to thank and congratulate coalitions such as Healthy Illinois, Defenders for All, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Coalition to Make EIC Work; organizations such as MALDEF and Heartland Alliance; and all other advocates on their commitment to the passage of various important bills. While we are disappointed that the Earned Income Credit expansion was not included in the FY22 budget, we are encouraged by the nearly $150M investment in immigrant communities, which will be crucial for uplifting and strengthening families deeply affected by COVID-19. Below are some key immigration wins and areas for additional investment:

Wins Areas for Additional Investment
• $92M to the Welcoming Centers (an increase of roughly $55M). This funding will continue to support immigrants, refugees, and Limited English Proficient (LEP) individuals struggling during and after the pandemic.  • No expansion of Earned Income Credit (EIC) to a projected 500,000 households in Illinois. This was a missed opportunity. The proposed HB2792/SB2184 would have expanded the State Earned Income Credit to immigrant taxpayers who file with an ITIN (an estimated 100,000 individuals), among other populations. We urge the General Assembly to reconsider this investment in future sessions.

• $44M for Immigrant Integration Services budget line Item (an increase of $14M). This budget line item includes 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 individuals to apply for and renew DACA. 

A large portion ($30M) of this investment will help fund the IDHS/ICIRR COVID-19 Immigrant Family Support Project, which has provided cash assistance to immigrant families ineligible for federal relief. Further funding to this line item increases the number of struggling families assisted.


• Increased funding for the Access to Justice Program ($14M). Both the Resurrection Project and Westside Justice Center received $7M, an increase of $2M each from last year, to continue work on eviction mitigation and homelessness prevention. The Resurrection Project’s Access to Justice Program specifically focuses on assisting immigrant families.


• Passage of the Illinois Way Forward Act (SB 667). This bill ends detention contracts of Illinois jails with the federal government. It also closes loopholes in the TRUST Act to further limit local police enforcing of civil immigration laws and sets up accountability measures to ensure law enforcement agencies are following state laws.


• Passage of HB2790, which gives public defenders discretion to represent noncitizen clients in immigration court. This bill allows the new immigration unit in the Cook County Public Defender’s Office to represent their immigrant clients facing detention and deportation in immigration court.


• Passage of the Undocumented Student Resource Center Bill (HB 3438). This billrequires the designation of a Dream Resource Liaison and encourages a Dream Resource Center at every public university and community college of Illinois.


• Expansion of healthcare coverage for low-income immigrant adults 55 years and older. This state-funded, Medicaid-like program for immigrant seniors 65 and older that was passed last year will expand to include low-income immigrants 55 years and older.

• Passage of SB1596, which clarifies existing law to recognize crimes motivated by anti-immigrant bias. This bill allows crimes motivated by a person's actual or perceived immigration and citizenship status to be prosecuted.  


Housing equity was front-and-center in this year's legislative session, both in regards to the FY22 budget and substantive legislative wins. While housing line items for IDHS and IHDA received level funding compared to the FY21 budget, there were some significant victories. An omnibus affordable housing bill was passed, which appropriates $75M in American Rescue Plan funds to a program that will bolster the construction of affordable housing and create property tax incentives to build affordable housing, among other incentives.

The General Assembly also continued to prioritize emergency rental relief and other measures to invest in programs and services that address housing relief, affordable housing, and homelessness prevention. The Forum is committed to ensuring that all members of the Latino community, regardless of immigration status, have access to safe, quality, affordable housing options and supports the important funding increases passed by the Illinois legislature. Other wins and areas for additional investment include:

Wins Areas for Additional Investment
• $150K grant to the Center for Changing Lives for homelessness prevention and assistance for families at risk of homelessness.This funding is key to providing critical bilingual assistance for LEP families at risk of homelessness. • Level funding for emergency and transitional housing grants through IDHS ($10.4M). This funding will help provide key services for homelessness prevention and mitigation.  

• Passage of COVID-19 Emergency Housing Act (HB2877), which creates protections for Illinoisans struggling to pay rent or mortgages as a result of economic instability caused by COVID-19. This act ensures that people with the lowest income and severe housing needs are able to access emergency rental assistance. This bill also seals all eviction records between March 2020 and March 2022 upon filing, along with other eviction protections.

• $25M to the IDHS Eviction Mitigation program to fund services related to homelessness prevention. These services include emergency financial assistance, case management, and community outreach.  
• $48M to the Emergency Solutions Grant Program, which provides funding for existing shelter and homelesness prevention activities and adds short and medium-term rental assistance and services to rapidly re-house homeless people.   
• $92.2M for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program through IDHS. These one-time funds are appropriated from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program under section 3201 the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.    

The General Assembly passed a bill that redraws the state’s legislative districts for the next decade, but unfortunately did not provide the demographic data necessary to conduct proper analysis and provide feedback on the legislative maps. The Forum is greatly disappointed that this data was not made public. Without this information, it is impossible to analyze the maps and determine if considerations that the Forum and other advocacy and community groups provided during testimony were included. The Forum testified numerous times on this issue:

This problem is extremely concerning. The maps passed do appear to indicate that the ideal number of Latino-majority districts were created, but it is not clear if they were drawn to maximize Latino voting strength. While the geographic dispersion of Latinos across the state means that it’s impossible for a map to equitably represent the Latino state population, the  map can at least equitably reflect Latino population centers so that Latinos can fairly elect the representatives of their choice. But without data, we cannot know if this map accomplishes that.  

The legislature also did not make it clear if they had explored all options for using Census 2020 data to draw the state maps. They passed legislation to delay the state’s primary election date until June 2022. It is not clear why they could not have done the same for our state’s legislative maps and waited for available Census data.

For all of the above reasons, the Latino Policy Forum opposes the current legislative maps that were passed in both chambers and await the Governor’s signature.


The FY22 budget also includes $100M re-appropriated to Early Childhood Construction through the Build Illinois Bond. This investment provides school districts and nonprofit providers of early childhood services for children 0–5 years of age with access to apply for capital funding for construction and renovation of early childhood facilities.

The $100M re-appropriation complements changes to the local match structure for early childhood capital projects. SB2019 includes a provision that reduces the local match for early childhood construction grants. The local match structure is determined by a project’s tier designation, as established by the Evidence Based Funding model. Local matches range from 3 percent up to 10 percent, depending on tier designation. 

HB2908 also passed, which institutes an elected school board in the City of Chicago. Given that the bill does not provide a pathway for non-citizen participation, the Forum stood in opposition to the effort.

Lastly, the General Assembly passed two additional immigration-related bills. The first is the reinstatement of the Illinois Immigrant Impact Task Force (SB2665), which establishes a 27-member task force to examine specific issues related to the state’s immigrant community and report findings by May 2022. The other is the expansion of SB265, which allows all energy assistance programs under the Energy Assistance Act to be available to eligible residents regardless of immigration status.

Analysis for this response was written by Erika Méndez, Sarah Cartagena, Edwin Ortiz Reyes, Roberto Valdez Jr., and Sylvia Puente of the Latino Policy Forum.