PEORIA — Gov. JB Pritzker highlighted the need to improve conditions for social service agencies throughout the state during a Monday afternoon visit to Neighborhood House.
At the South Peoria site, he told an assembled crowd before a roundtable discussion that "it's time to be responsible with a budget, to get it passed, to make sure we're investing in our social services across the state of Illinois."
The governor, inaugurated in January, pointed to three efforts he said will help change the underlying conditions for those struggling with poverty.
First, he said, the minimum wage increase that will raise hourly pay to $15 per hour by 2025 means that "1 million people will be lifted out of poverty in the state."
He also said his administration is pushing to increase the amount of available childcare assistance for working parents. The goal is to ensure that working parents — particularly single parents — have kids cared for while they're on the job and don't have to miss work, or have to choose between working and staying home to care for their children.
Pritzker's plan raises the threshold of eligibility beyond the previous 185 percent of poverty rate it had been at before the budget battle during Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration, but increases it to 215 percent of poverty. He said his goal is to apply it on a sliding scale starting at 300 percent of poverty.
Pritzker also said his graduated income tax plan — for which details have not yet been released — is an opportunity to reduce taxes on lower earners.
The governor also praised the Meals on Wheels program Neighborhood House administers, serving more than 1,000 seniors around Peoria and Tazewell counties.
His budget proposal for the coming year contemplates a $2 million increase in funding statewide, taking more than 500 seniors off the waiting list, according to data released by the governor's office.
Some 43,300 seniors participate in the program statewide.
Chris Kaergard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.