Eyes On Rauner As Popular Daycare Program Runs Out Of Cash

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Gov. Bruce Rauner has consistently said he's waiting to give details on his plans for Illinois' finances until his budget address, on Feb. 18. But decisions by previous lawmakers may force him to make closely watched decisions sooner. 

Illinois has a program that helps low-income parents pay for day-care. But because the previous General Assembly cut funding for it from the current state budget, state money for has run out. 

That's alarming for advocates like Emily Miller, who is with Voices for Illinois Children.

"When families don't have access to programs like the Child Care Assistance Program, they're really put in a position where they have to decide between going to work to put food on the table and staying home and having to rely potentially on public benefits," she said.

Or worse, she says, some may feel they need to leave their kids at home, unsupervised.

There's no sign it's coming to that right away; daycare providers Illinois contracts with may stretch their payments while they wait for lawmakers to deal with the situation. 

But that'd only work temporarily and this budget is supposed to last through June. 

Uncertainty is high, with a new governor. When asked about it, Rauner said only that he'll work with the General Assembly to make sure essential services stay functioning. 

Rauner has criticized his predecessor former Gov. Pat Quinn for directing state agencies to spend as if they could expect to get more money for programs like this one.

But Miller says this shouldn't have come as a surprise to Rauner; groups like hers have been clamoring about it for months. Miller's organization has been lobbying for Illinois to pass a revenue increase.  

Rauner has repeatedly said tax hikes alone are not the answer.That has been taken as a signal that cuts are ahead.  

Story source: Illinois Public Radio