Sunday, 02 May 2021 09:20

Governor’s budget proposal slashes tax credit scholarship that helps low-income students

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In February, Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveiled his budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1, proposing a cut to the Illinois Tax Credit Scholarship program that allows low-income and working-class students to receive scholarships to Catholic and other nonpublic schools.

Empower Illinois logoIn 2017, Illinois legislators passed the bipartisan Invest in Kids Act which grants a 75 percent state income tax credit to individuals and businesses that contribute to need-based scholarship funds for students to attend private school. The governor is proposing to change that to a 40 percent tax credit. This month, lawmakers will debate and pass a budget.

In the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, there are 481 students in 30 schools who received scholarship money this school year totaling about $1.4 million.

“The proposal by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to slash the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship program reduces the most effective state program for low-income and working-class students in Illinois,” the Catholic Conference of Illinois said. “Even during the pandemic, scholarship recipients have been attending high-quality, nonpublic schools. Students at Catholic schools have been learning in-person since August and have surpassed nationally-certified benchmarks. This is the time to expand the program so that more low-income and working-class students can attain educational achievement that will lead to a successful future. We urge the governor to reconsider and work towards expanding educational opportunities instead of restricting them.”

“Gov. Pritzker’s plans to make devastating cuts to Illinois’ Tax Credit Scholarship Program — that serves low-income and working-class families — in addition to withholding required public education funding increases, is harmful to students across Illinois,” said Empower Illinois, an organization that operates the tax credit scholarship program. “Making these cuts to the Tax Credit Scholarship Program does not help support those most in need, and scholarships for kids are not ‘corporate loopholes.’

“During this challenging time, kids need more quality education options, not fewer. And while Illinois’ financial challenges are significant, the State should not balance its budget on the backs of children from low-income and working-class communities or the schools that serve them so well.”

You are encouraged to reach out to your local state lawmakers and Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office asking them to support the tax credit scholarship program by not cutting the tax credit.

Donations to a school of choice should be made to the school through Empower Illinois (go to empowerillinois.org and click on donate). This page will walk an individual through what he or she must do to make a donation and to ensure he or she receives a 75 percent state income tax credit. Donors need an account on mytax.illinois.gov before applying for a tax credit, and this can take up to 10 days and involves a mailed letter containing your account pin, so act sooner rather than later.

Empower Illinois reports when families were asked, “Why do you want to send your child to a school of your choice and apply for a scholarship?”:

  • 74 percent of families were seeking a school with higher academic quality.
  • 62 percent of families were seeking a school with character/values instruction.
  • 55 percent of families were seeking a safer school.

For applicants seeking a scholarship for next school year, visit empowerillinois.org.

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