SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Despite multiple rallies at the Capitol, and Republican and private school pressure, the Invest in Kids scholarship tax credit program will expire.
The Illinois House of Representatives adjourned Thursday without calling for a bill to renew Invest in Kids, letting the program sunset at the end of the year. This leaves parents and guardians of 9,500 students pondering the future of their children’s education.
“We would have to reevaluate and choose to send our student, our daughter, to a school that might not be giving the best education that she would be getting if she would be able to continue where she is at,” Jessica Peterson, whose student attends Newman Catholic Central High School in Sterling, said.
Some organizations, like the Catholic Conference of Illinois, are worried about the low-income families who want to continue their education at a private school.
“Due to the cruelty of the Illinois General Assembly, those 9,500 scholarships will not be available next school year.” CCI’s statement reads. “In addition, the hopes of more than 26,000 students on a waitlist who desperately want a scholarship have been dashed as has using Invest in Kids scholarships at high school-level trade schools.”
Other organizations, like Illinois Families for Public Schools, celebrated the end of Invest in Kids, calling it a win for public school funding and the principle of separation of church and state.
“We are thankful that they listened to a coalition of over 65 local state and national organizations and let this voucher program sunset as planned,” Cassie Creswell, the executive director of IFPS, said. “We hope it is paired with a renewed commitment by ILGA to fully resource a system of high-quality public schools for every child and community in our state, a commitment that is in our state constitution but one that we haven’t yet fulfilled.”
House Minority Leader Tony McCombie (R-Savana) was disappointed the bill to renew the program was never called. But she says restoring Invest in Kids will remain a top priority.
“It is my hope that over the remainder of the year, that the advocates for and against this will actually come together sit at a table together, and we’ll come up with a remedy,” McCombie said.
And the legislature’s inaction is inspiring action in some private-school circles. Anthony Corapi, the COO of the High School of St. Thomas More in Champaign, called Illinois Speaker of the House Chris Welch a “coward” in an email sent out to families, and asked the community to hold their representatives accountable at the ballot box.
“Politically, you should ensure your local representatives know how displeased you are that the legislator [sic] failed our kids,” Corapi wrote. “The next election should have a consequence for their failures and how cruel they were in stringing this out for so long.”