While the interests of big business seem to be very much so on the radar of Springfield politicians, as evidenced by the passage of recent corporate tax break packages, the needs of children — and the impact of passed legislation and cuts on Illinois' youngest residents — may not always be as prevalent in political discussions as it should be.
One state organization is hoping to change that with the unveiling of a new fiscal policy center aimed at promoting the interests of Illinois children while also detailing the impact of budget and tax policies on one of the Prarie State's most vulnerable populations.
“Our expanded policy analysis will inform public debate about state budget priorities and the need to invest in children, families, and communities in ways that will benefit everyone in Illinois. We look forward to continuing our work to identify responsible and balanced solutions to the state fiscal crisis,” said Larry Joseph, director of the new Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children.
The Fiscal Policy Center comes as an extension of Voices for Illinois Children's Budget and Tax Policy Center, according to the group, and will increase its analytical work, with the goal of providing "timely, credible, and accessible information and analysis on state budget and tax policy, including impacts on education, health care, human services, and family economic security."
Other organizations that currently partner with Voices for Illinois Children, like the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, say the expanded Fiscal Policy Center will be an integral part of their efforts to push Springfield legislators to pass a fair and responsible budget.
"The expanded work of the Fiscal Policy Center is good news for all of Voices' partners who rely on its information and analysis to advocate for a responsible state budget," said John Bouman, president of the Shriver Center on Poverty Law. "FPC leadership and collaboration on the fiscal challenges we face today will help us to find balanced and equitable solutions to the ongoing budget crisis in Illinois."
The Fiscal Policy Center will also conduct analysis and produce reports on the numerous ways in which federal policies impact children's education, families, interests, and even state finances.
“We must continue to educate policymakers, candidates and the general public about the critical need to invest in programs and services that encourage children’s development and support strong families,” said Kathy Ryg, president of Voices for Illinois Children. “Enhancing our fiscal policy work will also help us to build awareness of cost-effective programs that can produce long-term results.”
The fiscal policy center's launch garnered attention from a few state legislators who say they look forward to utilizing the new resource during their legislative decision-making processes.
“As a legislator, I often rely on Voices' fiscal policy work," said State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). "They provide reliable data, and their reports are informative and insightful. I can count on their analysis to help me clarify complex state budget issues."