On Wednesday, the Illinois House passed a bill that would divert funds in order to avoid cuts to child care services to low-income families, The State Journal-Register reports.
Last week, Gov. Pat Quinn announced that child care services were underfunded by $73.6 million and suggested diverting funds to help avoid the budget gap. However, many state lawmakers contend that the child care budget gap was Quinn’s doing in the first place.
Should the bill not pass, over 40,000 child care providers in the state would be unable to pay for their services for the final three months of the budget year. Many parents rely on the subsidized child care to get to work every day.
House Minority Leader Tom Cross contends that state lawmakers fully funded the child care programs last year, but Quinn redirected those funds elsewhere. “We are now having to correct a problem he created because he didn’t stay within his budget,” Cross said.
Quinn reportedly shifted funds from the Child Care Assistance Program to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the state’s welfare program. That shift left child care programs underfunded.
According to Kelly Kraft, a spokeswoman for Quinn’s budget office, Quinn’s hands were tied. “TANF, along with Child Care, is funded through the same line, and federal law mandates the state pay TANF first,” Kraft said.
Senate Bill 2450 would divert $73.6 million from the state’s unspent general revenue to the child care funds. According to House Minority Leader Tom Cross, the budget for the fiscal year 2013 will be one of the most stringent budgets ever passed by the General Assembly.
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