Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed legislation Friday that would have expanded access to subsidized child care in Illinois.
SEIU* Healthcare Illinois pushed the legislation, SB 730. It sought to expand the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) to families with incomes between 185 percent and 250 percent of the federal poverty line by fiscal year 2018.
Under CCAP's original requirements, families with incomes up to 185 percent of the poverty level could qualify. The Rauner administration, however, slashed the program's income eligibility threshold during the budget impasse, which resulted in 55,000 fewer child being enrolled in the program, according to the union.
Rauner vetoed SB 730 over cost concerns.
"This bill irresponsibly imposes an approximately 40% increase in the overall size of the program without any provision to fund such a broad enlargement," his veto message said.
The measure would have added approximately 52,000 children to the program, according to SEIU Healthcare Illinois Vice President Brynn Seibert.
"Bruce Rauner has done so much to endanger quality child care in Illinois and today is no different. Our hope was that he would take a chance to fix what he has broken," she said. "But his veto today of Senate Bill 730 shows that he is determined to create a dimmer and dimmer future for the children of Illinois and kill jobs in the process."
In addition to expanding subsidized child care to 52,000 Illinois kids, the bill would have also "provided a path out of homelessness or the child welfare system for many children," Seibert noted.
"In recent days, we've seen Bruce Rauner pour his millions into the campaign coffers of candidates who vow to stand up for his special interest agenda that does nothing to fix our ongoing budget crisis, much less find solutions for the child care crisis facing Illinois," she said. "If only he found time to consider the future of Illinois children, instead of focusing on the future of a political agenda that has done us such harm."
Here is Rauner's veto message:
Today I veto Senate Bill 730, which amends the Illinois Public Aid Code to expand the eligibility requirements for the Child Care Assistance Program.
This bill requires that the threshold for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) be raised from 185% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to no less than 200% of FPL in Fiscal Year 2017 and 250% in Fiscal Year 2018 and beyond. The bill further expands the category of eligible participants in the program.
The costly increase proposed by this legislation would place Illinois far above the income thresholds of not only our neighboring states, but nearly every other state in the country at a time when Illinois is already struggling to meet its current financial obligations. In total, Senate Bill 730 would increase the costs of CCAP by over $200 million in Fiscal year 2017 and over $500 million every year thereafter.
The State of Illinois can no longer make spending promises that exceed available revenues. This bill irresponsibly imposes an approximately 40% increase in the overall size of the program without any provision to fund such a broad enlargement. The consequences of such an unaffordable expansion will inevitably result in reduced quality of care, the establishment of waiting lists for CCAP program entry, increased parental co-pays, or the reduction or elimination of other important State programs--none of which would best serve the interests of the children that this legislation is intended to support.
I applaud and share the General Assembly's desire to provide child care assistance to vulnerable Illinois residents. But such efforts must be wisely undertaken and cannot be done without regard to cost and feasibility. Otherwise, such legislation threatens the long-term sustainability of the Child Care Assistance Program itself.
Therefore, pursuant to Section 9(b) of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I hereby return Senate Bill 730, entitled "AN ACT concerning public aid", with the foregoing objections, vetoed in its entirety.
*The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this website.