Capitol Briefs: Advocates push for guaranteed income, child care assistance

Capitol Briefs: Advocates push for guaranteed income, child care assistance

Illinois Supreme Court agrees to hear case of Jussie Smollett

Capitol News Illinois

The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear the case of actor Jussie Smollett, who was convicted for staging a hate crime against him in 2019 in a case that drew criticism for Cook County’s top prosecutor.

Smollett made what turned out to be a false police report alleging that he’d been violently attacked by two men in downtown Chicago. The men punched him and allegedly yelled homophobic slurs, put a noose around his neck and told Smollett, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. A month later, prosecutors charged Smollett for putting on the hoax with a pair of brothers he’d paid to perpetrate the attack.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx drew sharp criticism when she suddenly dropped the charges, prompting the involvement of a special prosecutor. The prosecutor charged Smollett again, resulting in his 150-day jail sentence, though that’s been put on hold as Smollett goes through the appeals process.

In his appeal, Smollett argued that he should not have been charged again because he’d forfeited his $10,000 bond after his arrest and done community service – things he claimed constituted a nonprosecution agreement.

But a state appellate court ruled 2-1 in December to affirm Smollett’s convictions, finding that the record did not support Smollett’s claims that there was any such nonprosecution agreement with the state’s attorney’s office.


Guaranteed Income

Lawmakers on Wednesday heard testimony on a handful of proposals in front of the Illinois Senate’s Health and Human Services Appropriations committee.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Ram Villivalam, D-Chicago, would create a task force to look at the feasibility of implementing a guaranteed income of $1,000 per month to certain Illinoisans – regardless of immigration status – including parents, those who recently gave birth or adopted children.

Former Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar, now senior advisor at the progressive-leaning Economic Security Project, testified in favor of Senate Bill 3462.

“Wages haven't gone up enough to cover the rising costs of everyday goods like groceries, gas and school lunches, and guaranteed income can help families afford what they need,” Pawar said. “This is one of the first states in the country to actually have a conversation on guaranteed income.”

For one year, the city of Chicago ran a pilot program that gave 5,000 residents a $500 monthly stipend, with no strings attached. The Chicago Sun-Times reported on the program last June.


Health care workforce

The committee also heard multiple proposals that would use state money for recruiting and retaining workers in Illinois’ health care industry.

Among them were SB 3399, sponsored by Sen. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, which would increase the wages of frontline, non-executive workers who provide services for those with developmental or intellectual disabilities. Advocates from the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities estimated it would cost the state’s general revenue fund $60 million.

Sen. Laura Fine, D-Glenview, is sponsoring SB 3593, which outlines about $40 million for a grant program to recruit new hires and directly award bonuses to certified mental and behavioral health care providers, including registered nurses, medical assistants, and emergency medical technicians.

Jud DeLoss, CEO of the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health, backed the bill, arguing those in the field are generally underpaid and need a “competitive wage.”


Child Care Assistance Program

Nakisha Hobbs, CEO and founder of the youth social service organization It Takes A Village Family of Schools, said low-income families would benefit from SB 3626, which extends eligibility periods for Illinois’ Child Care Assistance Program, or CCAP. 

The bill is also sponsored by Villanueva and would allow parents to rely on state-funded services for longer periods of time during their children’s first years.

“This bill, essentially, is asking is that the CCAP eligibility periods be more aligned with the other sources of funding,” Hobbs said. 

She also said the measure would “provide stability for children who we care about we know that between the ages of birth and five that's when children's brains are developing the most.” 


Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of newspapers, radio and TV stations statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.


Hannah  Meisel

Hannah MeiselHannah Meisel

Hannah has been covering Illinois government and politics since 2014, and since then has worked for a variety of outlets from NPR affiliate stations to a startup newsletter. She’s a graduate of both the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the U of I’s Springfield campus, where she received an M.A. through the Public Affairs Reporting program and got her start reporting in the Capitol.

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