Illinois Legislative Black Caucus: Latest Cuts are an Attack on the Working Poor and Low Income Families

Earlier this week, Governor Bruce Rauner unleashed another round of targeted cuts, primarily aimed at low income working class families and people who are looking for a hand up, not a hand out. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus is appalled by the governor’s decision to eliminate services that are critical necessities for families and communities around Illinois.

Governor Rauner is outlining plans to cut the Community Care Program, which provides in-home services to enable seniors to live at home with dignity and independence.

“The Black Caucus has made it clear that certain programs, that affect our communities, simply need to go untouched because they allow people to live a sustainable lifestyle,” said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford, who is also Joint Black Caucus Chairman. “The Community Care program is put in place to save taxpayer’s money. Now our seniors will lose their independence and be shipped off to nursing homes.”

Several programs directly impacting communities of color are severely slashed, leaving the working poor with few options to make up for lack of assistance. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is losing its matching funds from the state, which will force an estimated 155,000 families to lose heating assistance and 60,000 families to lose cooling assistance.

The state portion of the LIHEAP is funded from a monthly charge on utility customers. State law only allows money in the LIHEAP fund to only be spent for that purpose.

“Without approval from the General Assembly, the LIHEAP cut will just be another one of Gov. Rauner’s failed attempts to hurt working families,” Leader Lightford said. “The cut to LIHEAP is illegal.”

“These budget cuts punish everyone who wasn’t born with a silver spoon in their mouth,” said Representative Rita Mayfield, Chairwoman on the House Black Caucus. “A community that’s already marginalized cannot be marginalized even more with vicious attacks that solely affect the working poor.”

The Child Care Assistance Program, which provides child care services to low income families, is increasing its co-pay. It’s estimated increasing co-pays will cost Illinois families $10 million, while already living on a restricted incomes. Not only is Governor Rauner increasing the co-pays, his administration is putting a hold on new enrollees and freezing the waiting list.

“Increased co-pays will gouge deeper into working families budgets leaving them with no other option but state assistance,” said Senator Emil Jones III, Chairman of the Senate Black Caucus. “Since the Governor took office, he has been itching to eliminate this program that helps low income families.  What does the Governor have against parents who are trying to provide for their children?”