Bill passed to create poverty commission

By Kathleen Foody

A bill sponsored by state Sen. Mike Frerichs (D – Champaign) creating a commission to investigate the level of access Illinois residents have to education, housing, childcare, health care and transportation passed through the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

According to a press release, more than 1.5 million Illinois residents live below the poverty line and another 2 million are close to entering the category. Champaign County is home to more than 20,000 residents living below the poverty line, Frerichs said in the release.

The Commission on the Elimination of Poverty is expected to release a plan with specific fiscal and policy recommendations in 2010 under the law’s specifications.

The commission will not just be aimed at the Chicago area, which Frerichs said is commonly assumed to be the only location in Illinois dealing with poverty. Champaign and Vermilion Counties have poverty rates higher than the state average and Cook County, according to the release.

The House bill passed without opposition and is waiting for approval from Gov. Rod Blagojevich.