- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois officials are warning parents and providers that the state has run out of money to pay for a subsidized day care program.

Illinois’ Department of Human Services is short roughly $300 million to fund the program through June 30. Department officials, in a letter last week, warned that payment delays are expected to “get progressively longer” and services may be cut.

“Please try to adjust your bills to accommodate the new schedule,” the letter to parents and providers read, adding “we know you have financial obligations that will be difficult to honor because of the payment delays. You may show this notice to your creditors so they are aware that the payment from the state is delayed and will be delayed for the rest of the fiscal year.

The problem comes from the $35.7 billion budget lawmakers passed last spring. The plan didn’t allocate enough money to pay for expenses while a debate on whether to extend the state’s income tax increase was pushed off. Heeding new Gov. Bruce Rauner’s request not to address any “substantive” issues until his inauguration in January, lawmakers didn’t address the issue in their fall veto session, and the increase rolled back Jan. 1. A roughly $2 billion revenue gap is expected by the end of the fiscal year in June.

While lawmakers say they believe money can be reallocated from other areas of the budget, no immediate solution is yet in sight.

The issue is expected to be an early test for Rauner. He’s pledged to keep “essential” government services functioning but hasn’t provided specifics.

An estimated 100,000 low-income families rely on discounted day care rates.


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