More than five billion dollars in federal funds may soon be on its way to social service agencies, despite Illinois still having no budget in place, but it didn't happen without a political fight.
Representatives from both sides of the aisle joined together to release the federal money, but a slimmed-down version from what House Democrats wanted. They'd tried to also lump in $585 million of state money -- money they say Illinois has to pitch in, or it will lose out on more federal funding. It would pay for early childhood intervention, childcare assistance and breast cancer screenings.
Republicans say that's money Illinois can't afford right now, and Democrats just added it in to make the GOP look bad. "We're going to take a vote here and perhaps some of the Republicans will vote no, and those mailers are going to go out and say 'oh, you Republicans, you hate all those people that need the women and children care and women, children and infants and all those programs that support the poor. You know what? This reflects badly on all of us," Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights said.
To which Democrats like Rep. Christian Mitchell of Chicago responded: "I have a mother who's a 15-year survivor of breast cancer, so this thing about breast cancer screenings being a poison pill is insane."
After the Democrats' plan failed, the House passed a "clean" version -- spending mostly only federal cash. The Senate's expected to approve it next week, and the governor's on board.
The measure does include some state funding, however, which gives the agency that runs Chicago's Navy Pier and McCormick place funding so it can pay bonds, following a credit rating downgrade aftter an initiail missed payment.