The U.S. Senate did not authorize a new funding stream for jobs programs like Put Illinois To Work (PITW) as part of a vote on welfare programs today. The decision raises the specter that thousands of PITW workers will be laid off around the state unless Democrats in Washington's Upper Chamber find a way to approve additional dollars in the face of Senate Republicans' intransigent opposition.
Some 27,000 people in Illinois -- most of them young, female, and poor -- found $10-per-hour jobs in the private and public sector through PITW; the federal government paid for most of their wages using dollars appropriated under the 2009 stimulus bill, with the states picking up the rest. PITW was one of the most aggressive jobs programs in the country, and when the initial round of federal funding ran out on September 30, Gov. Pat Quinn committed $75 million in state dollars to keep it going through the end of November.
Quinn -- who took a lot of flack during his gubernatorial campaign for supporting PITW with state dollars -- was hoping that Congress would provide more funding for a successful program that created jobs and generated impressive returns of sales, income, and other kinds of taxes. That hasn't happened in Washington. This is bad news for Illinois.