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The Majority Report 02/09/15 - Child care crisis, wages, funding freezes


A human, economic crisis in child care

A human, economic crisis in child careWith child care for thousands of families hanging in the balance, Illinois Senators this week sought answers to how the governor plans to solve the growing financial crisis. Mothers who utilize the child care assistance program in order to return to work and school urged state officials to find answers before they are forced to quit work or drop out of school.

"Losing access to child care is not just a budget crisis; it's an urgent human and economic crisis," said State Senator Heather Steans (D - Chicago). "Failure to fill the funding gap will force many parents to quit their jobs or put their education on hold, increase reliance on other forms of government assistance and keep at-risk children out of high-quality early learning programs."

Funding crisis >



The State of our State

The State of our StateGovernor Bruce Rauner offered up a buffet of issues in his first State of the State address, telling lawmakers that he was sure they could find plenty to like and dislike within his agenda.

The new Republican governor called for right-to-work zones, a higher minimum wage, spending cuts in some areas and increased state hiring in others.

Senate President John Cullerton had this response:

"Illinois has made progress since the Great Recession. With each speech that Governor Rauner delivers, I am reminded that the new governor has a lot to learn if he is to build on our successes in Medicaid reform, workers compensation, pension reform, cutting the bill backlog and meeting our obligations."

"All of those successes have been bipartisan, but there is still much more work to do. We are going to have to work together to find fiscal solutions that fully fund education, fuel economic growth and meet the diverse needs of working families needing higher wages and child care now. Talk is cheap, but these priorities will require targeted investments."

The governor's budget speech is Wednesday, February 18.

Read more reactions to the State of the State >


Related economic news via Moody's, COGFA

Related economic news via Moody's, COGFAIn a Friday post on our I Like Illinois website, we featured a report prepared by Moody's Analytics, a financial market research firm.

This report says the biggest threats to Illinois' economy aren't labor unions and government regulations but rather growing debts and the lack of tax revenue. In fact, the report from Moody's Analytics concluded that efforts to curtail union membership in Illinois are likely to be detrimental to the middle class.

Page 24 of the report says, "Since laws that hurt unions shift the balance of power from employees to owners, they tend to erode wages and lead to a more uneven distribution of the gains of economic growth. Consequently, even if the impact of right-to-work laws is positive in the short run, it can diminish over time because of the downward pressure on incomes."

The full report is available on the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability's website.


Senate leads on minimum wage

Senate leads on minimum wageOn Jan. 1, minimum wage workers in 20 states received a pay raise. Unfortunately, Illinois workers were not among them. Assistant Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is trying to correct that and make Illinois more competitive for workers. This past week, she won approval in the Senate of legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour on July 1. The legislation would raise the minimum wage incrementally by 50 cents a year until 2019, ultimately leading to a new minimum wage of $11 per hour.

"We are answering to the will of the people through the passage of this legislation," said Lightford. "The minimum wage should be a living wage. If you work full-time, you shouldn't have to rely on government support to put food on your family's table or a roof over your head."

Raise the wage >



Minority lawmakers chide governor for youth programs funding freeze

Minority lawmakers chide governor for youth programs funding freezeImmediately following Wednesday's State of the State address, State Senators Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) and Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) stood with a group of their House and Senate colleagues to highlight the urgent need for youth employment programs stripped of state funding last week. The legislators, members of the House and Senate Black and Latino Caucuses, challenged the governor to square his actions with his rhetoric.

"In today's speech, we heard about opportunities for disadvantaged communities," Collins said. "But what we've seen so far is those opportunities denied. Let's move beyond rhetoric to solutions."

Youth development grants cut >



First to ratify

First to ratifyJust one day after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 13th Amendment ending slavery in 1865, Illinois became the first state to ratify the amendment. Nearly a year later, the 13th Amendment was added to the Constitution after 26 additional states followed suit.

This week, the Senate commemorated the 150th Anniversary of Illinois' historic vote with a ceremony that included a narrative reenactment and speeches on the historical context of the ratification and elimination of Black Codes.

Watch highlights of the ceremony >




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