Thousands rally against Illinois budget cuts

CHICAGO – In a massive midday turnout, thousands of children, students, parents and leading advocates of state and citywide organizations that provide badly needed human services to working families and low-income communities here protested at the downtown Thompson Center June 18th against “doomsday” budget cuts approved by state lawmakers last month.

According to Illinois Action for Children (IAFC), main organizer of the rally, the state stands to lose $2 billion in federal matching funds this year and as much as $3 billion in federal stimulus funds over the next two years if the budget is enacted. The group says, for childcare alone, the state is leaving $217 million in federal funding, including $74 million in federal stimulus money, on the table as a result of the passed budget.

“This represents more than 30 percent of the funding for the state’s Child Care Assistance Program being left on the table while vulnerable children of working families pay the price,” said Maria Whelan, president of IAFC. Whelan added that the lost federal funds, in addition to the cut in state general revenue funds, would result in a $430 million loss of funding for childe care in Illinois. “Approximately 90 percent of the families that currently qualify for assistance would no longer be eligible,” she said.

“Illinois could lose up to $20 million in income tax revenue from the 80,000 parents who may lose their jobs without child care, which could in turn cost more than 30,000 child care professionals their jobs,” said Whelan. “It’s absolutely shameful that our elected officials are willing to sacrifice more than 110,000 jobs in Illinois at a time when our economy is already in terrible shape.”

If the budget is enacted 150,000 children and their parents will lose their childcare assistance. Early childhood education will be eliminated for 100,000 children. Over 40,000 seniors and people with disabilities will lose their home care plus much more.