Illinois House Black Caucus pushes for a budget agreement that protects communities of color

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[JUNE 12, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Members of the Illinois House Black Caucus said Thursday that the Illinois General Assembly legislative leaders must work together with the governor to pass a fiscally responsible budget that protects programs important to communities of color.

Rep. Marlow Colvin, D-Chicago, the chairman of the Illinois House Black Caucus, outlined several funding priorities as the legislature continues its budget negotiations: elementary and secondary education, early childhood development, AIDS prevention, and health care. In particular, Colvin identified the expansion of FamilyCare, which serves parents of children in the KidCare health insurance program, as crucial to gaining Black Caucus support for the budget.

The caucus also pushed legislative leaders to build on the progress made in preschool and K-12 education in last year’s budget. Colvin said caucus members support a $250-per-student increase in education funding, which would mean an additional $105 million for the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools. They also want to invest another $30 million in preschool programs for at-risk toddlers.

"These are difficult economic times," Colvin observed. "However, that is all the more reason to be sure that we pass a budget that will help those most affected to get through them."

 

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The deadline for passing a budget with a majority vote was May 31, so now it will take a three-fifths vote to pass. During the final hours of the regular session, the Illinois Senate passed a budget that included increased funding for K-12 education, preschool, child care, FamilyCare and other Medicaid health programs. The Illinois House had adjourned before the Senate package could be called for a vote. Negotiations on a final budget are still under way.

"While the leaders and budget negotiators continue to meet to try to find an agreement on the budget, I want the voices of the House Black Caucus to be heard loud and clear: We won’t support a budget that hurts the people we serve," said Colvin. "We were elected to help bring opportunity and progress to our communities. Even though we’re dealing with limited resources this year, we will not turn our backs on people who need help the most."

[News release]

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