Illinois officials are offering state-backed loans to federal employees who haven’t been paid because of the partial federal government shutdown, and state leaders are looking at ways to help others who could be affected if the shutdown drags on.
The state will make $100 million in low-interest loans available to estimated 8,000 federal employees in Illinois impacted by the partial federal government shutdown.
It’s been 34 days since the partial federal shutdown started. Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs said the loan program he and Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday at the statehouse is an effort pay federal workers during the budget impasse.
“These dollars will be spent securing a roof over a family’s head, dollars spent at a local grocer, or a corner gas station,” Frerichs said.
Frerichs’ office said it will make the $100 million deposits from the various investment accounts worth $12 billions to participating financial institutions who will, in turn, provide low- or no-interest loans to eligible federal workers.
“This shifting of investment money will not strain Illinois’ finances,” Frerichs said.
The interest rate will depend on the financial institution facilitating the loan.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said it may not stop there if the shutdown continues.
“This is a terribly difficult time for too many families across our state and we’re going to do everything we can to have their backs,” he said.
There are other areas the state may need to address and contingency plans are coming together, Pritzker said, including how to deal with a possible lapse in food stamp benefits.
“We have the ability [with] programs that are partially funded by the federal government that are also partially funded by the state government to continue to fund those programs possibly through March,” Pritzker said.
A list of banks, credit unions and other assistance programs the state is offering furloughed federal employees can be found at Illinois.gov/shutdownaid.
The federal impasse is over border security, and while the historic partial shutdown has entered its second month, Trump has already signed a measure to give back pay to federal workers.
Pritzker said Trump should reopen the government. He said immigration reform would negate the need for a border wall.
“Very important to me that we get comprehensive immigration reform,” Pritzker said. “That’s actually the best border security we can get.”
Pritzker wouldn’t say he believes the wall is immoral as some other Democrats have suggested.
Trump did offer up some concessions, including three years of legislative protection for children brought to the country illegally in exchange for barrier funding. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on that and other legislation Thursday.
[This story is from Illinois Radio Network News.]