State of Illinois Budget Proposal; Public Charge Rule Goes Into Effect


February 25, 2020 | by Amber Smock

State of Illinois Budget Proposal; Public Charge Rule Goes into Effect

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

Today we’d like to catch you up on two important issues. First, we want to update you on the proposed budget for the State of Illinois. Second, we have an important update about that national public charge issue. Read on to learn more.

Last week, the Governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, released his Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal. You can read his annual budget address at this link. Several of the agencies that support the social safety net also offered a briefing on their proposals for the next year’s budget. At this point, the Illinois legislature will consider the Governor’s proposal and begin developing the formal legislative budget bills. This process tends to allow for changes and negotiations. The legislature will need to pass a budget bill (or bills) by the end of May, at which point they go to the Governor for signature. If all goes normally, the new state budget will go into effect on July 1, 2020.

Does the Governor’s budget proposal contain anything that will help people with disabilities in Illinois? The answer is, we think so. The Governor announced increases for mental health spending in his budget address, and the Illinois Department of Human Services also announced increases to cover wages for workers who support people with disabilities, as well as workers in the Home Services Program. There appears to be an increase for Centers for Independent Living (of which Access Living is one). There is an increase in funding to help support Olmstead implementation in Illinois through Ligas, Williams, and Colbert. There is a proposal for a $1 million investment in home modifications so people can stay in their own homes. All of these are the result of a year of hard work by state agencies and disability advocates trying to address critical pain points in services.

However, we continue to live in a state that has a long way to go in recovery from fiscal crisis. It remains important for the public to support the Fair Tax referendum on the Illinois ballot this fall. The Fair Tax referendum would shift taxing in a way that would ease the burden on a range of social services, including education. It also remains very important for disability voters in Illinois to make sure our state legislators AND our Governor understand where state funding is needed to empower Illinoisans with disabilities with necessary services and supports in the community. So this spring, take action and have those conversations with our state’s leaders.

In national news, today marks the day that the controversial “public charge” test goes into effect nationwide. Illinois had been the lone state where it would not go into effect, but late on Friday the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Trump Administration to put a stay on a court order that had blocked the public charge in Illinois. This new rule affects those who are applying for green cards, and will disproportionately affect those who are poor and disabled. It will also have the terrible effect of discouraging disabled immigrants from using public benefits including that they sorely need, including home and community based services. Read more about this at this link from the Center for Public Representation. The most important thing you can do is to educate yourself about this rule, so please check the link out.

Thank you as always for your support and advocacy on disability issues!