Final Weeks, Budget Hole, Department of Early Childhood, and More

Pritzker’s budget hole

Our scheduled session day today was canceled by the Speaker. We have TWO weeks left until our scheduled adjournment and so far House Republicans have not been allowed to participate in discussions on putting together a budget proposal in the House.

This week, the Governor was forced to acknowledge that the “balanced” budget he proposed earlier this spring will likely be $800 million out of balance. That shortfall, due largely to push-back on multiple tax increases the Governor has proposed and was counting on to cover increased spending, was confirmed by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA).

This week the Governor sent a memo leveraging support for his tax increases by threatening budget cuts. You can read more about it here.

Cuts would certainly be the responsible way to go, but it’s clear we haven’t heard the last of the Governor’s proposed (or alternative) tax increases as a way to fill their budget hole. I’ll keep you posted.

State of Illinois to create new Department of Early Childhood

The new State department will specialize in early childhood programs currently divided among the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Creation of the Department of Early Childhood, a process that will take place over a two-year period, is expected to enable the operation of a merged, integrated agency in FY27, starting in calendar year 2026.

Enactment of Senate Bill 1 to create the new Department of Early Childhood begins the transition. The House approved creation of the new Department on Thursday by a vote of 93-18-0. I voted yes.

Continued licensing delays

The State agency that awards licenses to most professionals, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (DFPR), is slow to respond when Illinoisans apply for new licenses or move to renew existing licenses. This is a significant concern, because professionals need an up-to-date, current license in order to legally do their jobs. 

In thousands of incidents reported to my colleagues and I, residents have completed the licensure paperwork, sent money to DFPR, and then nothing happens for weeks. The Department explains that “we are backed up,” and claims that they have been working for more than 12 months to install a new computer software program. However, none of DFPR’s licensure software modernization promises have been met We’re demanding answers.

Celebrate Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day Sunday to all of the incredible mothers who do so much for others! Make sure to show your appreciation for the mothers in your life Sunday and every day!