Toro BudgetAddress PinkSPRINGFIELD — After hearing the governor’s budget address, State Senator Natalie Toro is hopeful that the proposed investments in early childhood education and housing will help address issues she observed when she worked as a teacher in her district.

“As a kindergarten teacher, many students would come to my classroom unprepared or behind some of their peers because they were not able to attend Pre-K due to the cost, or they didn’t have access to children’s books growing up,” said Toro (D-Chicago). “Financial barriers to early childhood education can set kids back years in their educational development. I am proud of our governor’s commitment to giving all children in Illinois a fair chance with these investments in early childhood education.”

The proposed budget includes an additional $75 million for ISBE Early Childhood Block Grants, $13 million to launch the Department of Early Childhood, and $3.5 million to support the Dolly Parton Imagination Library early childhood literacy program. It also includes $200 million to fund Early Childhood Workforce Compensation Contracts, as well as $36.5 million to expand access to the Child Care Assistance Program.

In addition, the proposed budget allocates $180 million to support new arrivals to Illinois. A granddaughter of immigrants and advocate for better supports for migrants, Senator Toro is thrilled about this commitment, making the proposed total investment from state, city, and county funds $320 million. The Senator is also supportive of the proposed $10 million investment in a program to erase medical debts totaling an estimated $1 billion in relief for more than 300,000 Illinois households, recognizing the burden high medical bills place on Illinois families.

Toro, who is working on a number of measures supporting housing affordability including reinstating rent control programs, was also encouraged by a proposed $50 million for Home Illinois, which expands housing support and works to prevent homelessness. This investment will help maintain funding for current supportive housing, provide short-term rental assistance, offer street outreach and more.

“People in my neighborhood are being forced to move because they cannot afford the rent of units their family has lived in for decades,” said Toro. “It is devastating to hear how many communities are being disrupted by greed. I am glad to hear the governor’s budget proposal also prioritizes making housing more affordable for all Illinoisans and assisting people who are currently unhoused because housing is a human right.”

The General Assembly will begin budget negotiations in the coming weeks.