SPRINGFIELD — Furloughed federal workers in Illinois may be able to obtain low-cost loans to tide them over, Gov. JB Pritzker and Treasurer Michael Frerichs said Wednesday.
Frerichs said the state will make $100 million available through Illinois’ linked deposit program that participating banks can use to make low-cost loans to federal workers no longer collecting a paycheck. There are an estimated 8,000 federal employees in Illinois who have been affected by the partial federal government shutdown that began Dec. 22 as President Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress spar over Trump’s request for $5.7 billion to build a southern border wall.
Frerichs said the loans, which will be below market rates, can then be used by workers to make rent or mortgage payments or meet other critical expenses.
“Working men and women should never be locked out and used as pawns over a policy disagreement,” Frerichs said. “We have a moral duty to help people who play by the rules, go to work, support their families and just want to pay their bills.”
“Hard-working families are suffering because this president wants to build an unnecessary wall, and that’s simply unacceptable,” Pritzker said.
The loans will be available through nearly two dozen Illinois financial institutions. Further information about the program can be obtained at www.illinois.gov/shutdownaid.
Pritzker said the state will try to help not only the affected federal workers but “any community that’s impacted by the shutdown.” He said he’s asked his staff to review options to shore up programs that receive federal funding to head off any potential problems.
Pritzker also said the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will offer heating assistance to qualified federal workers, and the state is investigating making unemployment benefits available to employees who are still required to report to work even though they are not being paid.
“No federal employee should fall into debt or not be able to put food on the table because the president refuses to open the government,” Pritzker said.
With no end to the partial shutdown in site, Pritzker said he has directed state agencies and airports to develop contingency plans to deal with a long-term shutdown. He said a “big concern” is Transportation Safety Administration workers not showing up, which will hamper transportation.
Frerichs said the money will come out of the state’s $12 billion investment portfolio. He said using the money to make low-cost loans under the linked deposit program “will not strain Illinois finances.”