Fearful parents campaign to save 'Invest in Kids' scholarship program from Pritzker budget's axe
Parents are pressuring lawmakers to breathe life back into a private school scholarship program likely to be eliminated by cuts proposed in Gov. J.B. Pritzker's new budget.
Invest in Kids is an education funding program that has helped underprivileged children get private school educations since 2017, but Pritzker has said he plans to phase out the program.
“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,” Pritzker's spokeswoman said.
One single mother of a child in the program spoke to WCIA about the impact shutting it down would have on her family.
“We just want our kids to have a fair shake to live better than we have, and just have a good life," she said. "Or at least a chance at it. This year they got full rides, so I was like super excited. But then literally like three days later, I hear that [Pritzker]'s trying to get rid of the program that made me so excited and caused so much joy. I'm like, 'Why would he want to do that?' There's so many more moms like me.”
While Pritzker’s budget states that the funding commitments needing to be upheld are those to the public schools first, the funding for Invest in Kids does not come from tax dollars. It comes from the state’s provisions of state-level tax credits to wealthy individuals and businesses that help provide scholarships for children who qualify.
In hopes of saving the program, a group of parents have started the Save My Scholarship campaign that is pleading with lawmakers to oppose the governor’s phase-out plan. There is, in fact, a bipartisan effort underway to save the program.
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. Anne Stava-Murray (D-Naperville) has not signed HR 0289 to support Invest in Kids. Rather, Murray is expected to support with the governor’s budget plan, which would be in line with her past support of anti-school choice bills.