Thursday, November 12, 2015

Happy Veterans Day and Springfield Update

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"Honoring the sacrifices many have made for our country in the name of freedom and democracy is the very foundation of Veterans Day."

Today is a very special day, it is the day we get to say THANK YOU, to the men and women who bravely serve our nation in service to the idea and ideal of America, the men and women of our armed forces. We can never say thank you enough for providing the freedoms we enjoy, today and every day we salute you and thank you for your service.
Happy Veterans Day!!!!

From the desk of
State Representative Elgie R. Sims, Jr.
November 10, 2015 Session Update
Dear Friend,
On November 10, 2015, both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly returned to Springfield to take action on various legislative items, including measures addressing the Child Care Assistance Program, the Coordinated Care and Home Services Programs, funding for local governments, higher education and other non-General Revenue Funding appropriations items. Following is an outline of the actions taken during the recently concluded session.
State Budget update
Illinois is now in its fifth month without a state budget, with no measurable progress towards a resolution of the current budget impasse. During the recently concluded session, the Illinois House took up several measures to address the budget crisis, these measures included:
  • House Bill 4305*: Appropriates funds for fire protection grants, local governments, including funds for 911 services, Motor Fuel and Riverboat gaming receipts and funds for lottery winners. The bill passed the Illinois House and awaits further action. *The measure was co-sponsored by Rep. Sims
  • House Bill 4156: Appropriates funds for higher education including funds for each of the public universities, Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, Illinois Community Colleges, the Illinois Math and Science Academy and the Illinois Board of Higher Education. An amendment was adopted and the bill currently sits on second reading in the Illinois House.
While each day this budget impasse continues is important because of the pain being inflicted upon all Illinoisans, the next day of note in the budget impasse is November 18, 2015. Even with a protracted budget impasse, continuous session and the failure of the state to have a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1, November 18 will mark the first time each of the four legislative leaders and the Governor are scheduled to meet since May. I remain optimistic that progress can be made and a resolution reached that will bring an end to this stalemate and hope they November 18 proves to be the first step in this direction.
Child Care Assistance Program update
During the recently concluded session, the Illinois House failed to pass Senate Bill 570, which sought to reinstate eligibility requirements for all children falling within 185% of the Federal Poverty Level. Under rules instituted by Gov. Rauner on July 1, eligibility for this vital program, which helps move working families from welfare to work, was slashed to $837 per month for a family of three, meaning 90% of children were ineligible to receive services. The Governor agreed to reinstate eligibility up to 162% of the Federal Poverty Level, but made no guarantees that he would not seek to reinstate the cuts put into place July 1; additionally, the partial restoration set a level that will still leave approximately 5,000 children ineligible and without services through the Child Care program. Despite media reports to the contrary, there was no purported "agreement" as advocates feared the partial restoration of services fails to provide the long-term protections they needed going forward.
The next critical date related to Child Care and the eligibility requirements is November 17, 2015 when the legislature's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, will take up the new emergency rules proposed by the Governor.
Coordinated Care and Home Services Program updates
The Determination of Need (DON) is an assessment tool used to determine an individual's level of impairment and need for long-term care services. The Governor sought to raise the score, meaning less seniors and individuals with disabilities would receive services; House Bill 2482 sought to lock in the current DON score until the federal government approves an updated assessment tool. The Governor vetoed the bill, maintaining the current score but forcing eligible residents to choose between institutional long-term care or home and community based long-term care.
Recently, the administration sent a letter to the federal government saying the current eligibility score would remain in place and individuals would be eligible for institutional, home and community based care. However, in spite of the proposed changes, advocates sought legislative protections and assurances, much like the Child Care Assistance Program advocates referenced above. Unfortunately, the attempt to override the Governor's veto failed in the Illinois House and the long-term protections sought by recipients and advocates will not be provided, but conversations and negotiations with the federal government continue and with the creation of a task force to study the implementation of a new home services assessment model, hopefully a positive resolution is on the horizon.
As it is my endeavor to always keep you informed, as developments occur or information becomes available I will pass it along to you.
State Representative Elgie Sims
"This nation will remain the land of the free so long as it is the home of the brave."

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