IL Democratic leaders highlight youth investment in FY23 budget

Gov. JB Pritzker and Democratic leaders spoke at Chicago's Gately Park Indoor Track on April...
Gov. JB Pritzker and Democratic leaders spoke at Chicago's Gately Park Indoor Track on April 13, 2022.(Mike Miletich)
Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 6:34 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Gov. J.B. Pritzker joined House and Senate Democratic leaders in Chicago Wednesday to celebrate budget investments in youth. They believe the $46.5 billion plan will have an enormous positive impact on the well-being of young people throughout Illinois.

The budget proposal includes $460 million for K-12 schools and programs to help ensure quality classrooms, better pay for teachers, and proper textbooks and supplies for students. There is also a $122 million increase in MAP grant funding, bringing the state’s total financial aid for low-income college students to $600 million.

Pritzker said this can help more than 155,000 students receive MAP grant scholarships.

“And when they get to campus, they’ll find colleges that will provide a world-class affordable education with new buildings and more support - one that will lead to a good job after your graduate,” Pritzker said.

The spending plan could put $54.4 million toward early childhood education services for roughly 7,131 children. $300 million are earmarked for grants to improve quality of care and support child care workers. $7 million is budgeted to help teenagers get hands-on job training.

Twelve million was earmarked for the Regional Offices of Education to help address chronic absenteeism and truancy issues coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Democrats also included $16 million for homeless prevention and homeless youth services.

“This is a budget that takes a look at our future,” said House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Hillside). “The youth are our future. And indeed, this budget is gonna help us heal the hood.”

The Democratic budget also features $8 million for the Redeploy Illinois program to prevent crime and reduce youth incarceration. Twenty five million could also help rebuild the state’s residential capacity for vulnerable youth in DCFS care.

Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) also noted that the budget includes $87 million to support the DCFS provider network. That’s completely separate from $15.5 million to help hire 360 new DCFS employees.

“Public school funding was a priority. Investing in children, however, is more than just investing in education,” Harmon said. “It’s support services and child care, and mental health assistance and a devotion to keeping our children safe and protecting them from abuse.”

The spending plan has approximately $150 million to fully implement the Pathways to Success program for children with serious mental illnesses. That program specifically helps children, under 21 enrolled in Medicaid, who live with complex behavioral health needs and require intensive support.

Democrats also highlighted their expansion of the state’s earned income tax credit. Under the latest change, working-class young adults, anyone 65 and older, and undocumented immigrants will be eligible to receive the benefit. The plan also increased the current rate of 18 percent of the federal credit to 20 percent.

Sponsors didn’t forget to highlight their one-week sales tax holiday that will allow families to buy certain clothing and school supplies at a lower price before kids return to school.

“These last few years, our youth have sacrificed so much adapting to a changing world,” said Rep. Nick Smith (D-Chicago). “I am proud to have fought for a budget that invests in our young people so that they can reach their full potential.”

The budget appropriations plan, House Bill 900, arrived on Pritzker’s desk Wednesday. The budget implementation bill, House Bill 4700 was also sent to the governor. Pritzker will likely sign both into law as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the $1.8 billion tax relief plan has yet to arrive on Pritzker’s desk.

Fiscal Year 2023 starts on July 1.

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