2013 Spring Legislative Roundup

IMG_20130521_164636The spring legislative session of the Illinois General Assembly has come to a close. This year, Illinois has taken some giant steps forward in combating poverty and creating greater opportunities for low-income individuals and families in Illinois. IABG, working with our partners across the state, advocated for expanded access to savings opportunities and tools that people need to become financially secure.

Eliminating the TANF Asset Test:
The Illinois General Assembly voted to eliminate the TANF Asset Test last month – removing a significant savings barrier facing families. The TANF Asset Test has prevented our poorest families from building the savings they need to weather unexpected expenses and become financially stable. By eliminating the asset test we save the state in much needed administrative costs and allow families to preserve the few resources they have, like emergency or college savings, and avert financial disaster.

Expanding Retirement Savings:
We moved closer to making an Automatic IRA program a reality in Illinois. With more than 50% of all private sector workers lacking access to an employment-based retirement savings account, we are seeing more and more people retire into poverty. An Automatic IRA program would ensure that all workers have access to this important savings tool. This year IABG partners – including SEIU Healthcare, AARP Illinois, the Sargent Shriver Center, and the Woodstock Institute – testified in a subject matter hearing in front of the Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee.  In addition to gaining more legislative sponsors, our retirement savings coalition has expanded to include grassroots community organizations, labor unions, businesses, financial services partners, and advocates.

Other Successes This Year:
Heartland Alliance, together with amazing partners, successfully advocated for additional changes that combat poverty:

  • Health care: 342,000 low-income Illinoisans will now have access to health care because the coverage gap in the Medicaid program will be closed.
  • Employment and Justice: People with criminal records will face fewer barriers to employment. Learn more.
  • Housing: Renters in foreclosure will be able to stay in their homes and be given enough time to make safe moves for themselves and their families. Learn more.

Over the next few months, IABG will be traveling across the state hosting roundtable discussions on the racial wealth gap and how an asset building agenda can address growing inequality. We hope to engage communities more deeply in our policy agenda as we get ready for the next legislative session. If you are interested in co-hosting a discussion in your community, please contact Lucy Mullany.

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