Shared on behalf of the Save My Scholarship Coalition
CHICAGO – Following intense political pressure from special interest groups, the Illinois General Assembly failed to even vote on extending the Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program during their 2023 veto session. Their inaction will result in over 9,500 students from low-income families statewide losing their scholarships following the end of this school year, causing many to leave their best-fit school.
“It is a terribly sad day in Illinois because of the legislature’s failure to address and extend the Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program. The legislature’s inaction on such a critical issue has created very real and tragic consequences for thousands of kids, families, and entire school communities,” said Anthony Holter, president of Empower Illinois. “What our families question is how a compromise bill with majority, bipartisan support was not even called to allow votes to be cast. And so, The Invest in Kids Act Tax Credit Scholarship Program as we know it is over at the end of the calendar year. From here we are committed to continue working with Springfield leaders to figure out if they have the will to create real, quality educational options for all kids in Illinois—regardless of where they live of what school is the best fit for their educational needs.
“Furthering the loss, the hopes of 26,000 more students on the scholarship waitlist have now been eliminated,” added Josh Hale, president and CEO of Big Shoulders Fund. “The General Assembly’s inaction will disproportionately harm Black and Brown students from low-income families across the state. The Invest in Kids program was designed as an investment in poverty reduction and economic acceleration, so we will urge lawmakers in the coming months to reestablish an alternative vehicle for helping these vulnerable students have access to their best-fit schools.”
“A parent, practically in tears, asked me last night how will she keep her kids in school next year when she can’t even afford basic necessities right now,” shared Rabbi Shlomo Soroka, director of government affairs for Agudath Israel of Illinois. “I had no response for her, or the thousands of other families across the state who are asking the same question. Our elected officials owe all of them an answer.
Bob Gilligan, executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, concluded, “We expected more from our elected officials. At the very least, we expected them to represent the opinions of their constituents. An Impact Research poll conducted in August 2023 found the scholarship program has 2:1 support among Illinois voters. But our work is not over, because the kids are worth the fight.”
About the Invest in Kids Act
The bipartisan Invest in Kids Act passed in 2017 and created the Evidence-Based Funding model for public schools and Illinois’ Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to kids from low-income and working-class families to attend their best-fit private school. All students qualify based on financial need. Since the program’s inception, nearly 41,000 scholarships have been awarded statewide.
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