Sandack: CCAP compromise necessary amid budget impasse
Gov. Bruce Rauner recently issued a statement announcing his decision to amend an emergency rule he handed down earlier in the year that lowered the income threshold for Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) eligibility.
“As a result of bipartisan discussions with legislators concerning the future of the Child Care Assistance Program, the Rauner administration today plans to amend the emergency rule it filed at the beginning of the fiscal year," a statement from the governor's office said. “Under the amended rule, income eligibility will rise to 162 percent of the federal poverty level, while current co-pays will remain intact. Other eligibility and restrictions will also be lifted pending further review and legislative consultation. Additionally, the governor's office will establish a bipartisan, bicameral task force aimed at ensuring the long-term stability of the program.”
The emergency rule handed down earlier in the year was part of the Rauner administration’s $820 million spending reduction because a state budget was not agreed on by the start of fiscal year 2016.
“The budget deficit continues to grow,” state Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Dist. 81) told the DuPage Policy Journal. “Because of consent decrees, court orders and embedded spending, we’re spending at a fiscal year 2015 rate, but only have a fiscal year 2011 budget.”
On July 1, CCAP eligibility was limited to families with a monthly income of 50 percent of the federal poverty level. Previously, families were eligible if they earned 185 percent of the federal poverty level. The compromise agreed on in November set the eligibility requirement to 162 percent of the federal poverty level.
For example: according to healthcare.gov, the federal poverty level for a family of three is $20,090. Before July 1, a family of three making $37,166.50 (185 percent of the federal poverty level) or less was eligible to receive child care assistance. During the summer, a family of three making 50 percent ($10,045) or less was eligible. With the compromise in November, eligibility extended to families earning $32,545 (162 percent of the federal poverty level) or less.
Although the change came after lawmakers from both parties urged Rauner to compromise, the CCAP-eligibility income rise to 162 percent of the federal poverty level is higher than most neighboring states.
Sandack expressed disdain with House Democrats who attempted a veto-override vote on the amendment. While Rauner worked on the compromise with members from both parties, SB-570, which was voted on the day after the compromise was announced, almost passed in the House. The bill would have kept CCAP eligibility at 185 percent of the federal poverty level. Needing 71 votes of support to pass, the final count was 70-35-4.
“Despite the fact the governor agreed to raise from 50 to 162 percent, the House Democrats wanted to override the agreement,” Sandack said. “An agreement had been made, and the deal was that it would return to 185 once a budget is finalized. It’s better to have compromise and bipartisanship than override; their attempted power play fell short.”