Despite the setbacks coming out of the 2022 legislative session, one positive outcome was achieved on a bipartisan basis, thanks to members of the Black Caucus and Latino Caucus who joined with Republicans to save Illinois’ successful school-choice program that helps families in communities where public schools are underperforming and too often flat-out failing the needs of our students, by giving them the ability to provide their child with a quality K-12 education at a non-public school.
Enacted in 2017, the Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program provides need-based scholarships to kids from low-income and working-class families to attend their best-fit school. The scholarship program is funded by Empower Illinois, a non-profit organization that gives low-income and working-class families the opportunity to explore new, quality K-12 education options through private school scholarships.
Since 2018, the Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program has awarded more than 28,000 scholarships totaling more than $250 million. The average scholarship recipient’s family income is just over $38,000, and 49% are Black or Hispanic, according to Empower Illinois.
In his February 2021 budget proposal, Governor Pritzker labeled these low-income students as “tax loopholes” and sought to cut the Invest in Kids program by $14 million. He proposed reducing the tax credit, cutting what private school donors receive from 75 cents on the dollar to 40 cents.
Pushing back with the voices of thousands of parents whose children have benefited from the program, the tax credit was extended for an additional year.