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Governor Quinn’s 2012 Budget Proposal:  Protects Education, but Some Harmful Cuts to Human Services

Governor Quinn’s 2012 Budget Proposal:  Protects Education, but Some Harmful Cuts to Human Services

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Last Week, Governor Quinn introduced his fiscal year 2012 (FY12) budget proposal.  Despite passing the tax increase, a number of factors have created pressures to reduce state spending, including the state’s remaining deficit, rising pension obligations and statutory spending caps. 

A preliminary review of the budget proposal suggests mixed results for Latino children and families.  While certain areas of the Illinois State Board of Education budget would restore funding for important programs, many initiatives funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) could lose significant resources. 

While there is ample cause for concern, the governor’s budget proposal represents the first of several steps in determining state spending priorities for FY12.  As this process proceeds, The Latino Policy Forum, in coordination with its advocacy partners, will strive to protect the state’s investment in Latino children and families. 
Read below to learn about what the FY12 budget means for Latino families across certain issue areas. For additional information, contact Policy Analyst Martin Torres.

Early Childhood Education

The governor’s proposal restores funding that had been cut from the Early Childhood Block Grant in FY10, bringing the suggested allocation back to $380 million. The 10% cut in FY2010 eliminated early childhood services for thousands of children. The restoration of this funding, if appropriated for FY12, would allow Preschool for All and Prevention Initiative programs to continue to serve children, particularly those at risk of later school failure.

Additionally, home visiting programs funded through the Healthy Families Illinois and the Parents Too Soon budget lines were maintained at current funding levels in the governor’s proposal, potentially avoiding any cuts in these vital programs. Evidence-based, voluntary home visiting programs are an essential component of the early learning landscape because they prepare parents to excel as their baby’s first teacher.

Furthermore, funding for Illinois’ Early Intervention program was restored in this budget proposal. This program provides services, such as speech and physical therapy, to infants and toddlers with developmental delays. Cuts to this funding in the past few years have threatened the state’s ability to ensure that very young children with developmental challenges have the best chance for healthy development.

Child Care

The governor’s recommended funding for the Child Care Assistance Program is less apparent than other programs listed above. Initial analysis indicates a reduction to investment in child care and other services for low-income families, but further analysis is needed. We and our advocacy partners are continuing conversations with the governor’s office and IDHS to fully understand the programmatic impact for both the remainder of this fiscal year as well as for FY12. We will alert you as more information becomes available.

Bilingual Education

The budget proposal initiates the process of restoring funding for bilingual education, though the proposed FY12 appropriation is still 12% less than the state’s FY09 investment.  Reestablishing the state’s financial commitment to bilingual education is an important step in providing the supplemental resources necessary to support the educational needs of English language learners throughout the state.  Continued growth of the state’s limited English proficient student population in the suburbs and the recent expansion of bilingual services to include preschool programs administered by school districts necessitate additional investment in this area.

Vital Human Service Programs

While the governor’s proposed budget would enable various education-related programs to remain intact, many initiatives funded by the IDHS are at risk of significant reductions.

Despite increasing demands for services, immigrant integration programs have been slated for dramatic cuts in FY12.  In fact, the suggested level of funding in this area would be 77% lower than the amount appropriated in FY09.  State funding for domestic violence programs, mental health grants, and other human service initiatives also stand to lose considerable resources.

Given that nearly 70% of state funding directed to Latino-led organizations flows through IDHS, it is imperative that we undertake efforts to protect resources for vital programs and mitigate any cuts that do occur.  With the Latino population increasing by nearly 500,000 since 2000, the largest increase among all racial/ethnic groups (32%), every budget cut has disproportionate consequences for the Latino community.

Restructuring the State’s Debt

Of course, before the next fiscal year begins, we still face enormous challenges in these final months of FY11.  Chief among them is a multibillion-dollar stack of unpaid bills to schools and providers of vital human services, including many early childhood priorities.  Paying most of these bills requires the approval of Senate Bill 3, which would allow the state to restructure its debt and wisely maximize the new revenues approved in January.  Contact your state senator and representative today and urge them to vote for SB 3, so the state can pay its overdue bills to programs supporting young children’s learning as well as other critical state priorities.

Latino Policy Forum