SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois lawmakers resumed their spring session Wednesday; attempting to pass a 2024 state budget after blowing past a self-imposed deadline last week.
Budget negotiations have hit numerous snags, including how to deal with a separate crisis. Pension problems are nothing new, but the state is grappling with the financial implications of a relatively-recent issue: undocumented immigrant healthcare.
Around 10,000 migrants have arrived in Illinois since Texas Governor Greg Abbott began transporting undocumented immigrants to Chicago last August, according to WBEZ. More are expected after Abbot sent a letter to then-Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on May 1st concerning the “ongoing border and humanitarian crisis.”
The cost of treating these migrants has Cook County’s Health Department “bracing for a financial storm” and anticipating a $40 million drop in revenue.
The state is expected to spend over $1 billion on migrant healthcare, according to State Senator Sue Rezin (R-38th) in a May 11th release.
Illinois’ Health Benefits for Immigrant Seniors program provided benefits to undocumented immigrants aged 65 and older starting in 2020. In 2022, the program expanded to include individuals 42 and older.
“With the cost to everyone for the state of Illinois, costs for the county, costs for the city of Chicago. I mean, these are very real costs that somebody has to pay for,” said Rezin, according to Northern Public Radio.
“Regardless of what side of the issue you are on regarding the bill that was passed in 2020, we as legislators have to figure out, how are we going to pass a balanced budget?”
Lawmakers’ next deadline is May 31, after which a supermajority (60%) would be required to establish a budget. Until then, only a simple majority (50%) is required.