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House Votes To Spare Foster Care Programs From Rauner Cuts

A proposal to continue government services for young adults in foster care passed the Illinois House on Thursday. Some believe it's a foreshadowing of future budget negotiations.

The state currently provides educational assistance, job training and counseling for wards of the state aged 18 to 21. But Gov. Bruce Rauner didn't include those services in next year's proposed budget.

Rather than allow the cuts, the House passed House Bill 3507, which would guarantee the programs stay. Advocates say the young adults need certainty.

The proposal barely passed. Many Republicans, like Rep. Barbara Wheeler, voted "present," a way to oppose it without actually doing so. The Republican from Crystal Lake says it should be addressed in budget negotiations.

"It was, however, revealing ... how this budget process is going to proceed," Wheeler said. "Please don't insult us anymore by asking us for bipartisan support. As my colleague from the supermajority just reminded me, that's just how it goes."

Republican Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights was one of three legislators who did vote no. Harris says the legislation circumvents the budget process.

"I am not in any way unsympathetic to the population that needs the services, and the services are very important," Harris said. "At the same time, we have to put the budget together as a whole."

Later, Republicans reportedly refused to participate in meetings meant to survey budget needs.

The Republican governor has proposed many other budget cuts, too. While Democrats haven't taken steps like this to protect other services, many say they won't go along with Rauner's plan.

Lisa Ryan is a graduate student in the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She previously worked at Indiana Public Radio and the college radio station founded by David Letterman. She is a 2014 broadcast journalism and political science graduate of Ball State University.
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