ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Lawmakers have only a few more days to decide the fate of Illinois’ “Invest in Kids” program, which allows parents to donate to private school scholarship funds.
The “Invest in Kids” program was started in 2017 under the Republican administration of former Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Under the program, people can donate to select non-profits in exchange for a 75% income tax credit, and the money is used to help send lower-income students to private schools.
More than 9,500 students have already taken advantage of the scholarships.
Critics have said that the scholarships should go to families in underrepresented areas, and have argued for adding additional conditions to the language of the bill.
Some House Democrats have filed an extension proposal, but it includes big cuts, including limiting the amount of tax credits the state can award and how much of a credit is available.
Empower Illinois is one of the largest drivers of the “Invest in Kids” program, and says it agrees to the compromise.
“What I would say is, the cuts that you mentioned are steep, and they are deeper than I think anyone would want. But we believe that they’re necessary and responsive to the concerns we’ve heard from legislative leadership to address those items to ultimately extend this program,” Empower Illinois representative Anthony Holter said.
Teachers unions and other educational advocates have long opposed the program, with the Illinois Education Association saying the state should put the funding toward public schools instead.
Gov. JB Pritzker hasn’t ruled out an extension of the program, but put the burden on state lawmakers, saying if they can pass legislation, he would sign it.
Lawmakers are expected to return to Springfield next week to consider the extension.
The tax credits are set to expire on January 1st if the program is not extended.