black caucus 021523SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus announced they will focus on passing a balanced budget that uplifts low-income and working families and enhances classroom and early childhood education.

“The governor’s proposed budget showcases a continual dedication to fund programs that promote public safety and equity for all Illinois residents,” said State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago). “A budget proposal that contains investments in schools, small businesses, working families and our environment reframes key investments that have traditionally left out Black and Brown communities and is a step toward progress.”

After Governor JB Pritzker outlined his legislative priorities, the Black Caucus highlighted the importance of putting the voices and needs of Illinois’ Black communities at the forefront of upcoming budget negotiations.


The governor’s outline would put a total of $250 million toward a new program – SMART Start Illinois – a multi-year program to provide investments in preparing children to be lifelong learners. This includes increasing preschool availability and Early Childhood Block Grants. It also includes funding for the Minority Teacher Scholarship Program.


To continue Illinois on the path toward making more equitable, it also continues the commitment of a $350 million increase to K-12 funding.

“Children’s destinies begin at birth, making it vital that education is prioritized from then until college,” said Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood). “As a General Assembly, we will do what is right by the people of Illinois and continue to fight for equitable funding and access to education. I share in the governor’s enthusiasm for providing our youth with greater opportunities for success – from investing in early childhood education to ensuring our schools are fully funded.”

The budget outline also prioritizes business attraction and development, workforce training, public safety, violence prevention and more. A major part of the proposal is a $350 million investment for crisis response efforts to expand housing support and increase job opportunities for the homeless.

“As we begin negotiations, it is important that we pass a budget that is balanced, responsible and invests in hardworking people in all corners of our state,” State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr., the Senate’s lead budget negotiatory, said. “As chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, my pledge to the people of Illinois is that we will bring forth a budget that works to solve the pressing economic issues facing our working families and that makes investments in education, small businesses, public safety and more to provide a brighter future for our state.”

Members of the Illinois Black Caucus will work together over the coming months to solidify a budget that prioritizes all communities.