Tuesday, August 04, 2015 05:13 PM
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th) presented a budget measure that won bipartisan support in the Senate today and, if it secures House approval and the governor’s signature, will allow federal dollars blocked by the state’s budget impasse to flow to programs that provide cancer screenings, energy bill assistance, infant nutrition and much more.
“Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly, as well as the governor’s office, agree these funds need to be released for their intended purposes,” Steans said. “There is no reason to keep parents from accessing specialized formula for their medically fragile babies or to hold up federal disaster relief funds; we can continue negotiating the $7 billion portion of the state budget that is still contested while allowing the critical work funded by federal dollars to go on.”
Senate Bill 2042, which passed without opposition, would allow $4.8 billion in federal money to be spent on functions such as the Women, Infants and Children nutritional program (WIC), utility bill assistance known as LIHEAP, community mental health, AmeriCorps volunteers working in schools and communities statewide, care for those with developmental disabilities, breast and cervical cancer screenings for low-income women, a 24-hour crisis hotline for victims of domestic violence and more. With some of the offices that provide nutritional counseling and benefits through WIC set to run out of money and close their doors as soon as the end of this week, releasing federal dollars is pivotal in relieving some of the direst effects of the budget impasse.
“I’m encouraged that we have reached agreement on another significant portion of the budget,” said Steans, who chairs the Senate Appropriations I Committee. “I’m confident we can overcome our remaining differences on budgetary matters without getting bogged down in non-budgetary issues.”
Senator Heather Steans
Years served: 2008 - Present
Committee assignments: Appropriations I (Chairperson); Appropriations II (Vice-Chairperson); Environment and Conservation; Executive; Government Reform; Human Services.
Biography: Born May 8, 1963, in Lake Forest, IL; B.A. in Urban Studies from Princeton; M.A. in Public Policy from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government; former budget director, WI Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations and former strategic planner, Chicago Public Schools; married (husband, Leo Smith) with three children.