The Real Cost of Governor Rauner’s Vetoes

Last Friday afternoon, Governor Rauner took his hatchet to two important pieces of legislation that would have insured vital social supports for some of Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens. He vetoed HB 5931, which would have guaranteed a $15/hour wage to those who care for people with developmental disabilities, and SB 730, which would have expanded child care for low-income families.

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To be fair, the Governor did acknowledge the importance of these services and the sacrifices of those who provide them. But, in the end, he justified the vetoes by saying the State is broke and the bills didn’t provide a funding mechanism. In other words, no child care without a bake sale to pay for it.

The Governor’s vetoes will cause great hardship for parents struggling to earn a living, keep home health workers living in poverty and limit the quality of care available to the developmentally disabled. But if his decision was, indeed, based only on economic consideration, then we feel compelled to point out that it was penny wise and pound foolish.

It is far too simplistic to point out that vetoing the child care expansion will save the State $330 million we don’t have in the coffers. What the Governor failed to account for was how much economic activity and revenue that $330 million would generate.

Here’s a hint as to what he should have taken into consideration: The nonpartisan research-based advocacy organization Innovation Illinois estimated that during FY2013 every dollar of General Revenue Funds invested in caregiver programs generated an average of $3.74 in economic activity.

So spending money on caregivers for the developmentally disabled seems like a pretty good return on investment. The same calculations can be made for child care workers, and that doesn’t even take into account the economic activity (and tax revenue!) generated by providing the child care necessary to help more parents go to work.

It’s time we started telling the truth about the real impact of budget cuts and supposedly unaffordable programs being imposed by our Governor and state Legislature. Please send a message to Governor Rauner and insist that he include estimates of the lost economic activity, including revenue, when he vetoes or slashes spending on social benefit programs.