Parents, lawmakers fight for 'Invest in Kids'
A private school scholarship program on the chopping block under Gov. J.B. Pritzker's budget plan is receiving a lot of attention as the axe draws near.
Invest in Kids has provided scholarships for underprivileged children through tax incentives for businesses and individual investors since 2017, but Pritzker is planning to phase out the program less than halfway through its five-year pilot period.
“The governor’s budget proposed phasing out the scholarship tax credit program over the next three years so that the state can direct its limited revenues to funding its commitments to public schools first,” according to a statement from Pritzker’s office.
The funding comes from the state’s provisions of state level tax credits to businesses and individuals who give to scholarship funding for children from poor homes who attend schools in underperforming districts, in order to make it possible for them to attend private schools. Invest in Kids has made it possible for lower-income families to give their children access to better education, and many parents are outraged at the thought of the program being eliminated.
“We all live in this community," one single mother told WCIA. "We're single. We bust our butts and are busting our butts trying to go to work. I already work too many hours as is to not make enough money. Why do you want to make it more difficult on us for our kids to have the same chance? Whether you want to believe it or not, it is a difference. And without programs like this, my kids just don't have a chance.”
There is, however, a bipartisan effort underway to save the program's funding. House Resolution 0289 is being sponsored by Reps. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills), Michael J. Zalewski (D-Riverside), Kelly M. Burke (D-Evergreen Park), Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights), Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan), Elizabeth Hernandez (D-Cicero), Jonathan Carroll (D-Northbrook), Robert Rita (D-Blue Island), Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) and Amy Grant (R-Wheaton).
Rep. Terra Costa-Howard (D-Glen Ellyn) has not signed the resolution and is expected to vote with Pritzker's budget plan. She has also been in support of anti-school choice bills before.