Latino leaders across Illinois are breathing a sigh of relief this week as Governor Bruce Rauner signed a $38.5 billion state budget for fiscal year 2019 into law – the first time a full-year spending plan has received bipartisan support in the Legislature and enacted since 2015.
The Latino Policy Forum is pleased that all our requests and topic areas advocated for, which will have a significant and long-lasting impact on the Latino community, passed the General Assembly.
Some of the Forum’s requests included millions of dollars in funding for Bilingual Education pre-K through 12th grade, including $50 million extra for Early Childhood Education. As part of our efforts to advocate for immigrants, Illinois Welcoming Centers will get over a million dollars of additional funding, while immigration integration programs will continue getting support.
All Illinoisans deserve equitable access to sustainable, quality housing. Everyone, including immigrants integrating into our society, also merit housing rights that should be upheld. Unfortunately, in Illinois we have seen landlords abuse authority to intimidate and threaten tenants from the immigrant community.
The Forum was proud to have been part of a collation of organizations that helped advocate for the passage of the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, bill SB 3103, which, when signed by the governor, will protect tenants from being denied, harassed or evicted based on immigration or citizenship status.
Here are parts of the FY19 budget that are important to Latinos:
FY19 Illinois State Board of Education’s (ISBE) budget
- Evidence-Based Funding Formula received an almost 6 percent increase to funding, this includes a sustained increase to Bilingual Education pre-k- 12th grade.
- A $50 million increase to Early Childhood Education.
- With this increase, ISBE fulfills the State’s commitment to the federal government Preschool Expansion Grant. By fulfilling our state commitment to the federal government, we ensure young children have access to high quality early childhood services.
- A 36.4 percent increase to the Southwest Organizing Project’s Parent Mentor Project which will allow the program to continue recruiting and training parents to assist teachers in the classroom. Congratulations to Southwest Organizing Project who was the lead on this issue.
FY19 Department of Human Services (DHS) budget
Supporting Illinois’ working families, especially Latino families, will result in a stronger, more resilient, economy for the state. The FY19 DHS budget includes:
- Level funding for Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).
- Level funding for Early Intervention services.
- Level funding for the Healthy Families and the Parents Too Soon programs.
The Illinois General Assembly approved a budget for DHS that re-appropriated funding for the Illinois Welcoming Centers and maintains funding for Immigrant Integration Services at the FY 2018 appropriation level which includes:
- More than $1.4 million for the Illinois Welcoming Centers, which returns funding to the Centers to the FY 2018 appropriation level.
- These programs are meant to help immigrants gain access to state programs that connect them to services such as healthcare, childcare, education, labor and employment.
- Funding for Immigration Integration Services will remain at just over $6 million.
- These programs help immigrants participate in adult education and file to become U.S. citizens.
FY19 Capital Board (CB) budget
- In the FY19 CB budget, the appropriation of over $5.8 million to early childhood providers across the state was critical. Partner organization, Gads Hill Center, was among one of the awardees receiving approximately $1.4 million.
- Through the joint advocacy efforts around the Capital Development Board, SB2227, early childhood stakeholders asked the state to uphold its promise to fund construction grants to 11 early childhood providers serving underserved populations of young children. The grants appropriated will be used for construction and renovation projects meant to increase access to quality early childhood services.
The Forum would like to thank the General Assembly and advocates for their support on much needed legislation to address the educator shortage in the state.
- The Growing Future Educators Program, bill SB2844, addresses the pronounced educator shortage in Illinois, the bill specifies that bilingual and low-income students can benefit from a university-district partnership to become educators.
- Time-limited solution to Preschool for All (PFA) workforce challenges, bill SB1829 creates emergency rule to help Preschool for All programs fulfill their need for teachers. Both bills passed both houses of the Illinois General Assembly.
The Forum would like to thank and congratulate the Campaign for a Welcoming Illinois, and its lead organization the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), on the passage of three of Illinois’ most important and much needed bills:
- The Anti-Registry Act, bill SB3488, bars Illinois from participating in a registry program directed at any group based upon race, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, or religious belief.
- The VOICES Act, bill SB34, provides clear guidelines and processes for law enforcement agencies to provide U Visa certifications. U Visas are for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, and certain other crimes.
- The Safe Zones Act, bill SB35, disrupts deportation activity in many public spaces such as schools, hospitals, court houses and more.
The efforts of ICIRR in helping advocate for these bills are noteworthy.
We at the Forum are thrilled that state leaders have seen the importance an accurate count of the State’s population, including Latinos in the 2020 Census and have allocated $1.5 million to focus on outreach and education.
Latino Family Commission
Lastly, state leaders should be commended for reallocating funds to the Latino Family Commission.
About the only drawback of the FY19 budget was that nothing had been done to address the state’s huge backlog of bills which at this moment stands at $14.3 billion.
As the Forum commemorates its decade of existence, the organization will press on with holding pláticasacross the state to take the pulse of Latino communities to learn what progress we’ve made and challenges we face in the years to come. The Forum will also continue being diligent and resolute in standing up for Latinos in Springfield. Stay tuned for future developments at the Forum’s Impacto page.