The Illinois State Fair will go on despite the budget impasse and cuts to child care assistance, which isn't sitting well with one state legislator.
The same week the fair begins, Republicans backed Gov. Bruce Rauner's emergency rules cutting 90 percent of previously qualified families from child care assistance. State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) says Rauner is being inconsistent on his budget message if entertainers for the fair will still be paid while simultaneously cutting child care to manage the state's finances.
Harris says his issue with the fair isn't about spending money on a Downstate event.
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"It's not an upstate, downstate issue," Harris said. "It's why do we have money for entertainment, but we don't have money for child care?"
In response to Harris's criticism, Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly blamed the Democrats for not passing a balanced budget, adding "one of the governor’s first major actions as governor was to save child care funding from the Democrats purposefully underfunding it in the last fiscal year. Now, the Speaker and his caucus are threatening to keep childcare providers from receiving federal funding by attaching a poison pill to legislation agreed to by the Governor and Illinois Senate."
Emily Miller, policy director for Voices for Illinois Children, says families which lost eligibility for child care assistance may be angry about money being spent on the fair, but she feels it doesn't need to be an either-or proposition.
"The State Fair serves an important economic purpose, as do parents who go to work every day, and these are things that we should not, as a society, have to choose from. We should not have to choose between a functioning economy and having a safe place to put children," Miller said.
Some fair vendors will have to go unpaid for the time being for services provided, but not some, like bands playing at the Grandstand, will be paid. Fair officials say those funds come from a separate account which doesn't require legislative approval.