The Illinois Senate passed a measure that would exclude unconditional taxpayer funded subsidies from consideration when someone seeks medical financial assistance.
Senate Bill 1665 was heard before the Senate on Thursday. The measure provides that any individual getting taxpayer funded subsidies through a local program meant to address poverty would not have that income counted against them when trying to qualify for medical assistance.
An amendment to the measure set up guidelines that the "guaranteed income" program must be a defined number of months or years, designed to reduce poverty, promote social mobility or increase financial stability for program participants to qualify.
State Sen. Cristina Pacione-Zayas, D-Chicago, explained what criteria needed to be met for someone to qualify for benefits in her bill that passed Thursday.
"This is statewide, the program," Pacione-Zayas said. "There is no preferential treatment. It is means tested. You have to meet a particular economic threshold which is 250% of the federal poverty line."
State Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, voted against the measure and said it favors individuals who do not work over those who do.
"I just don't believe that it's right that if you have two people who both earn $10,000 from a job and another from a guaranteed income program, that these incomes should be treated differently," Fowler said.
Other lawmakers claim this bill would actually incentivize those individuals who are not currently working to continue to be unemployed.
"I think there is an unfairness issue because one's getting a benefit and being able to qualify for additional benefits, and the other is not," said state Sen. Win Stoller, R-Peoria. "It seems like we are creating a disincentive to work in that situation."
Pacione-Zayas said all the measure intends to do is help those who need it.
"This is not a get-rich-quick, this is not any type of scheme, this is not unfair," Pacione-Zayas said. "What's unfair is that you're not able to make a livable wage in most parts of this state."
The measure was able to pass through the Senate and now awaits further action.
The Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot offers 5,000 eligible residents up to $500 a month for 12 months, which was a $31.5 million program introduced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot that seeks to increase financial stability for low-income residents and those who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.