Proposal could threaten private-school funding, Catholic Conference of Illinois director says
A plan by Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Plainfield) would tie continuation of the Invest in Kids Act, a private-school scholarship program, to the General Assembly satisfying a minimum funding level for all schools each year, according to a report from the Illinois News Network.
“The new funding formula, passed in tandem with the Invest in Kids program, would require $350 million more from the state than was required last year,” wrote Cole Lauterback on INN’s website. “It would increase by another $350 million in the year after that.”
Executive Director Robert Gilligan of the Catholic Conference of Illinois told Prairie State Wire cutting the private scholarship tax credit could threaten funding for parochial schools.
“If this bill is signed into law, our fear is that (fewer) scholarships will be granted, which will result in fewer children being able to attend the school of their choice,” Gilligan said. “We have already seen a few donors indicate that this bill is giving them pause in donating to the program.”
The scholarship program was part of an education bill Gov. Bruce Rauner approved in 2017, according to an article in America magazine, a Jesuit publication. The report said the scholarship program allows $75 million in tax credits to donors contributing to schools that receive the private scholarships.
Gilligan lauded the creation of the scholarships as an issue of equality in an interview in the Jesuit publication America magazine. The report quoted him as saying, “The greatest social justice issue of our time is access to a quality education for the economically disadvantaged, and this legislation goes a long way toward addressing that need.”
The new Democratic proposal has the attention of Catholics, which benefit from the 6,000 and 10,000 students receiving scholarship across the state, as America magazine stated.
Gilligan’s position is that the bill Bertino-Tarrant is advocating is unnecessary since Rauner already authorized a $350 million increase in the state’s minimum funding level.
“The main impact of this bill could be on students,” he said. “By holding students in non-public school hostage to the budget process flies in the face and the spirit of the Invest in Kids Act.”