Carle-initiated bill to help those working while on public aid heads to Rauner

Carle-initiated bill to help those working while on public aid heads to Rauner

SPRINGFIELD — A five-year, privately funded pilot program that would allow hundreds of people to hang onto their public assistance temporarily while they're working to get back on their feet is on its way to Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk.

The bill (SB3232) was sponsored by state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, and initiated by the Carle health system to help fight poverty in the area. Carle also partnered with state Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, state Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, and state Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, to get the measure passed.

It was approved by the Senate last month and passed the House on Monday.

The pilot program is intended to help boost financial self-sufficiency among 500 future entry-level Carle employees also participating in Carle's job-readiness and learning program. Some may also be participating in Carle's healthy-beginnings program.

Participants would be able to work and earn incremental pay increases, and for three years, their income would be disregarded by the state for the purpose of determining their continued eligibility in public-assistance programs.

In other words, it would be a chance for people to work their way toward self-sufficiency more gradually, without the fear that public-assistance programs they rely on for help with necessities, such as food, would be immediately cut off, according to Carle and state lawmakers.

"I am really excited for the great opportunity that this legislation will provide and the fact private dollars will be used to support it," Rose said. "I applaud Carle Foundation Hospital for its creative thinking and enthusiastic support on this. I am sure this will become a wonderful opportunity for people in Champaign County to move toward economic security."

If signed into law by Rauner, the bill would take effect Jan. 1, 2019, and the pilot program would begin July 1, 2019.