Rauner aide: Quinn could have eased day care crisis

  • Robin Nordin, owner of Kiddie Junction Education Institute in Des Plaines shows a page out of the school's yearbook with faces crossed out of kids that will no longer be able to attend the school if the state can't afford to help pay for low-income parents' day care rates.

      Robin Nordin, owner of Kiddie Junction Education Institute in Des Plaines shows a page out of the school's yearbook with faces crossed out of kids that will no longer be able to attend the school if the state can't afford to help pay for low-income parents' day care rates. Jeff Knox | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/6/2015 5:57 AM

Lawmakers of both parties say they want to shore up a state-subsidized child-care program that ran out of money this week, but no solution has emerged.

An aide to Gov. Bruce Rauner put the blame on former Gov. Pat Quinn for letting money run out halfway through the budget year. Top Rauner aide Rich Goldberg hinted at attempts to plug the funding hole, but wouldn't tell an Illinois Senate committee Thursday what those are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We don't want to pre-empt those negotiations," he said.

Meanwhile, day care centers don't know when they'll be reimbursed for offering about 100,000 low-income families discounted day care rates. Goldberg said Democrats knowingly shorted the program and Quinn did nothing to manage the smaller budget in his final six months in office. That leaves Rauner with his first immediate budget pressure.

"And so we find ourselves in this crisis today," Goldberg said. "Hardworking families should not have to suffer because of the prior administration's mistakes."

Goldberg said the crisis has to be solved without raising taxes or borrowing money from elsewhere in state government.

State Sen. Dan Kotowski, a Park Ridge Democrat, asked Goldberg what kind of special budget powers Rauner was asking for and pressed him about what lawmaker would be putting forth the solution.

But Goldberg declined to say publicly, suggesting a private negotiation over the matter is ongoing. Rauner would need lawmakers to approve such powers.

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The state would need to find nearly $300 million to take care of the program until the next budget takes effect July 1. Federal money pays for about half the program, so the state can keep it going, but payments will be delayed.

Uncertainty about repayment means child care providers either have to float the costs of parents' discounted rates until the state pays up or start charging low-income families full price many can't afford. Either could be tough.

"This is not the type of industry you get into to make money," Sessy Nyman, vice president of Illinois Action for Children, told the panel.

The day care crisis could be the first one of many facing the state before the budget runs out. Rauner is seeking broader budget powers that could let him try to address other shortfalls in the coming months even as he prepares to deliver his proposal for next year's budget on Feb. 18.

"Some of those prisons are going to start missing payrolls," Rauner budget chief Tim Nuding said.

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