Democrats can't override Rauner cutting day care help to poor families

Gov. Bruce Rauner Tuesday prevailed over Democrats seeking to block his cuts to a program intended to help low-income parents pay for day care.

Rauner has implemented rules limiting who can get into the program for subsidized day care as the state continues to operate without a budget needed to pay for the program. Under his plan, a family of three would have to make less than $10,000 per year to get into the program, down from about $37,000.

Parents who are already in the program wouldn't be affected.

Democrats on a state panel tried to block the cut Tuesday but failed. They argued Rauner's new rules weren't emergency changes that can be unilaterally made by the governor.

"They will create emergencies all over the state," state Sen. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat, said.

Republicans defended the governor's move, saying he's trying to manage the state while the two parties are at loggerheads over the state budget.

"I do believe this is an extraordinary time," said state Rep. Mike Tryon, a Crystal Lake Republican. "I do believe this is an emergency."

The panel voted 6-4 along party lines to block Rauner's move, but the committee needed a supermajority to override Rauner. So his rules remain.

Linda Wywialowski, director of Community Child Care Center of Palatine, said she's already had one parent rejected by the program for not meeting the new income requirements.

Soon, about 20 percent of her center's about 85 children will turn over as they head to kindergarten, so she expects to hear about more rejections soon. Wywialowski said the center can offer some parents spots under a federal program, but only for limited hours. So she worries her day care won't remain full.

"Are we going to be filling all the openings?" Wywialowski said.

The debate over child care is the latest drama in the ongoing battle over state spending. And it's one that lawmakers and Rauner are familiar with from the spring.

Then, lawmakers and Rauner approved additional spending to save the program after it had run out of money and was unable to reimburse day care providers for parents' reduced costs. Some low-income parents worried that without a break on the high cost of day care, they wouldn't be able to work.

While Rauner's signature of the education budget will let schools open this month and court orders are keeping state workers paid, the governor and lawmakers continue to wrangle over the rest of the state budget with no clear end in sight.

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