Are Bipartisan Deals on Child Care, Unemployment a Silver Lining in Illinois Budget Impasse?

When New Year's Day arrives and news outlets are writing those "Year in Review" stories for 2015, Nov. 9 might earn special recognition as the beginning of the end of the state budget impasse.

On that day, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced a pair of agreements forged with Democratic support and a third action halting a move that was bound to stir another round of fighting in Springfield.

Whether this is just a momentary warm front passing through the Capitol or a seasonal shift remains to be seen, but it's as encouraging a sign of cross-aisle cooperation as we've seen in state government this year. Thus, we choose to err on the side of optimism, if only for a day.

In short, Rauner:

  • Announced a deal with Democrats to undo most of his tightening of eligibility requirements for low-income, working parents to qualify for state child-care subsidies

  • Announced a bipartisan reform of the Illinois unemployment insurance system that won the blessing of business and labor groups
  • Canceled his plan to tighten requirements for home health care services for the elderly and disabled
  • The first item was shaping up as the next major front in the budget battle between Rauner and the Democrats who control the General Assembly. The Child Care Assistance Program exists to help working parents pay for child care so they can keep working. Before July, families with income of 185 percent of the federal poverty level qualified for assistance.

    When Fiscal Year 2016 arrived July 1 with Rauner and Democrats deadlocked over a state budget, Rauner changed the eligibility standard to 50 percent of the federal poverty rate. A parent with one child and earning more than $665 a month no longer qualified. Democrats came one House vote short of passing a bill, Senate Bill 570, to restore the original standards on Sept. 2 and planned to try again Nov. 10. (Senate Democrats had passed the bill 37-7 on Aug. 5.)

    Just as the House was preparing to try again to undo Rauner's changes, the governor announced a deal that comes close to doing the same. From the governor's office the morning of Nov. 9...

    For the rest of this article as well as some insights on what this could mean for the state of state government in Illinois, click here.

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