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Pritzker wants to start phase-out of private school scholarship program

Thursday, Feb 21, 2019

* Beware of this lede from the Illinois News Network

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is formally asking lawmakers to shut down Illinois’ private school scholarship program and pour more into public schools.

In his budget proposal Wednesday, Pritzker proposes taking the $100 million cap on donations to the Invest in Kids private school scholarship program and cutting it down to $50 million, $11 million less than what was donated in the program’s first year. He proposed to phase it out over the next three years.

As part of the overhaul of Illinois’ education funding formula in 2017, lawmakers added the five-year Invest in Kids pilot program, which grants a 75 percent income tax credit to those who donate scholarship funds for private schools. Officials with the program said most of the donations were for less than $1,000 and from individual donors.

“The governor is proposing to phase out the program over the next three years so that the state can direct its limited revenues to funding its commitments to public schools first,” according to the proposal. […]

More than 40,000 students applied for scholarship funds through the program in 2018. The program raised $61 million statewide that year, a national record for the first year of this kind of program, and paid the private school tuition for more than 6,700 students. Pritzker’s administration estimated that ending the pilot program would put $6 million into the state’s coffers.

Pritzker said he opposed using tax revenue to subsidize private schools when he said Illinois does such a poor job of funding public schools, the Sun-Times reported. […]

Holter said Pritzker’s assertion that the funding for the scholarships could be put into public schools is misleading.

“It’s not like there’s a big $100 million or $75 million pool of money out there that we’ve taken from some other pot of money,” he said. “We work hard to make sure that the story of [this program’s] importance and impact is out there so that these private citizens feel inspired to give.”

It’s a five-year pilot program. It began midway through Fiscal Year 2018. It’ll expire in three more years unless action is taken.

What he’s doing is starting the process of phasing it out by lowering the limit on tax credits for next fiscal year.

Also, money has to come from somewhere.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

58 Comments
  1. - notsosure - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 12:29 pm:

    And, as best as I can tell (from an admittedly anecdotal approach), the $ came from donors who used to give directly to schools, and the scholarships went to kids who used to get those same scholarships. Minimal new $ in the system, except the state-subsidized tax credits.


  2. - Blue Dog Dem - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 12:32 pm:

    The one thing I gotta give gov Kick the Can credit for, is he’s paying back his political favors in a timely fashion. Very Trump-like.


  3. - 44th - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 12:35 pm:

    Easy for him to do when he sends his kids to private schools and $ means nothing.


  4. - Sue - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 12:37 pm:

    Only reason is the union antagonism. Andrew Gillum would be Governor in Florida absent his opposition to charters


  5. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 12:38 pm:

    Absolutely right 44th.


  6. - allknowingmasterofraccoodom - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 12:42 pm:

    Most donations were less than $1000 and from individual donors.

    That is an interesting fact. I get the spin they put on it but I see many donors who had a new opportunity to do something with their money other than send it to the deep hole in springfield. I donated. To me that is taxation with representation. I know exactly where my money went. The program can be argued to death. I thought it was good enough of an idea to give it a chance.


  7. - Mad Maxx - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 12:46 pm:

    The real question is whether Madigan and Cullerton are on board.


  8. - illini - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 12:46 pm:

    This program should never have been initiated in the first place.

    Although I am a product of a private, parochial school ( K- 8) I have never been in favor of the state providing funding to private schools. This should be a family decision as to whether to send their children to private or public schools. For the state to be subsiding $9100 per year for students to attend private, parochial or charter schools is inconceivable.


  9. - wondering wendy - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 12:48 pm:

    For someone who says he is for the “common man” this will take away quality schools for several of these “common” people. The money isn’t coming from the public school system. Sounds like he wants to appease the Chicago school system….


  10. - Norseman - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 12:49 pm:

    Another one in the plus category. I agree with illini.


  11. - JS Mill - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 12:53 pm:

    =Only reason is the union antagonism.=

    Or that darn Constitution.


  12. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 12:55 pm:

    Good. Public funds are for public education first. The previous governor tried to get unlimited privatization rights in order to get corporate owners a slice of that public action and drastically cut workers. According to RNUG, the previous governor’s goal was for state workers to ultimately pay 100% of healthcare costs. So private contractors would have had lower overhead and had more of that public money for themselves.

    The last governor loves himself some socialism with those government pensions. He’s the real one who gets rich off of the government.


  13. - ike - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 12:59 pm:

    Why should taxpayer funds be used to fund private schools? If you want your child in a private school, pay for it yourself.


  14. - Blue Dog Dem - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:04 pm:

    Ike. I use a similar argument when it comes to abortion. Why should taxpayer funds be used to fund abortions? Sound silly?


  15. - Flynn's Mom - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:04 pm:

    I totally agree with this decision.


  16. - 4AllKids - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:13 pm:

    Invest in Kids is a great program with strong bipartisan support and overwhelming demand from regular Illinoisans who want to give their kids a great education and bright future. #4AllKids


  17. - Groucho - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:14 pm:

    So tax payers donated $61,000,000 to cover school tuition for over 6,700 students. According to the Governor’s Office it cost the State $6,000,000 in tax breaks to these donors (of course, this assumes these donors would not have found other tax breaks). Based on the cost per student figures I have seen for CPS (approximately $12,000 per student), the actual cost of educating 6,700 students is in the area of $80,400,000. So it cost the State $6,000,000 instead of $80,400,000 to educate 6,700. In addition, the parents of 6,700 truly had options as to where they would send their children to school, which is a luxury usually afforded only to parents in the higher income brackets. Seems like you would want to grow this program, not end it.


  18. - Anon - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    This is a bipartisan education program. The Governor’s calls for quality education and working together are ringing very hollow right now.


  19. - Nonbeleiver - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:17 pm:

    A lot of state money is directed to students who go to private colleges.

    Wonder if he will address that issue?


  20. - Chitowngal - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:22 pm:

    Ike and Illini- what if you are poor? Then you don’t deserve the right to make that choice for your child? Easy to just say “if that is what you want, pay for it.” That elitist position is nothing but pure socioeconomic discrimination. My guess is you are A-OK with every other form taxpayer funded social justice.


  21. - Groucho - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:23 pm:

    Illini - This program did NOT cost tax payers $9,100 per student.
    JS Mill - Please cite where in the constitution where government funds can’t to pay for private schools. PELL Grants and MAP grants are used at private schools.


  22. - Gave more because - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:25 pm:

    • $3x credit given by state entices
    • $4x donations from private individuals generates
    • $4x in scholarships which entices parents to spend additional
    • $4x in tuition and, if CPS spends ≥ 40%/child than religious/private schools, saves CPS
    • ≥ $3.2x
    Net result: $3x in state credit saves CPS ≥ $3.2x
    Even if CPS spends only 20% more, it would save $1.6x while maintaining its separate funding streams.
    Invest in Kids is not inconsistent with helping fund public schools.
    It is inconsistent with maintaining the strength of vested interests in what is nearly an educational monopoly.


  23. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:25 pm:

    $100 million of public money should go to public preschool education for disadvantaged children. This investment of tax dollars is the best way prevent high school dropouts and crime in our communities.


  24. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:26 pm:

    =Why should taxpayer funds be used to fund private schools?=

    These are not taxpayer funds. They are private dollars going to scholarships for poor (mostly black and brown) kids. The tax credits awarded here are similar to those already given to many businesses, corporations, and developers across Illinois as incentives for economic development.
    I guess poor black and brown kids really don’t matter.


  25. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:29 pm:

    He’s doing what he said he would and appeasing the teachers unions. Part of the reason this law was passed was because some school districts in this state have an pitiful record of educating their children. And in most cases it’s not because they don’t have money, Chicago for example. This was an innovative way for parents to obtain alternatives to failing schools. Also, there is nothing magical about public school funding, yes the law for the funding of public education does designate the local educational authority as the recipient of public funding but perhaps the time has come to move to a model where every child is entitled to a pot of money they can use for any registered school because the goal isn’t supporting a certain type of school but to ensure that children have actually learned something by the time they exit high school.


  26. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:34 pm:

    This program passed as a bipartisan bill that had, and has, widespread support. Wrong cut to make Gov.


  27. - Pick a Name - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:35 pm:

    People who send their kids to private schools do pay for it, at the same time they send 58%-62%+ of their real estate tax bill to fund publics.

    If those private schools didn’t exist and everybody went to publics, what then???? You already received the tax money from from.


  28. - Perrid - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:37 pm:

    Right cut to make Gov. With our public education system sorely underfunded it makes no sense to throw public money at private schools.


  29. - ike - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:46 pm:

    Blue dog Dem - never said that i approved of taxpayer funds for abortions, so that is something we can agree on.


  30. - TwoCents - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:49 pm:

    40,000 applicants to this program shows a HUGE demand in just one year. Yet, the Governor is okay denying these 40,000 low-income families the same opportunities he gives to his kids. Sure, that’s not elitist at all.


  31. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 1:50 pm:

    Groucho, if you want to compare this program to MAP and Pell, then students at public elementary and high schools should also be allowed to receive money from this fund.


  32. - Still Waiting - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 2:02 pm:

    Groucho - where in the constitution? I see two places: Article VIII Finance, Section 1 General Provisions: “Public funds, property, or credit shall be used only for public purposes.”

    And then there’s Article X Education Section 3. Public Funds for Sectarian Purposes Forbidden: “Neither the General Assembly nor any county, city, town, township, school district, or other public corporation, shall ever make any appropriation or pay from any public fund whatever, anything in aid of ay church or sectarian purpose, or to help support or sustain any school, academy, seminary, college, university, or other literary or scientific institution, controlled by any church or sectarian denomination whatever; nor shall any grant or donation of land, money, or other personal property ever be made by the State, or any such public corporation, to any church, or for any sectarian purpose.”

    It seems pretty clear, yet it also seems it’s violated constantly, especially when a capital bill comes up.


  33. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 2:03 pm:

    TwoCents - Pritzker doesn’t take money away from public schools when he sends his kids to private schools.


  34. - City Zen - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 2:05 pm:

    CPS spends more picking up 7% of the employee pension contribution for their teachers than this statewide program costs.

    $100 million for this program is 1.4% of the $7.2 billion K-12 education budget. Where have I heard that percentage before?


  35. - yup, - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 2:06 pm:

    ok - we get it….folks can/will just donate directly to the private school of their choice and leave the state out of it; too bad we cannot earmark our property-taxes to the public school of our choice as well so that the charters get a fair shake


  36. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 2:11 pm:

    “I guess poor black and brown kids really don’t matter.”

    This program isn’t available to everyone? Why is it only available to black and brown kids?


  37. - ilparent - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 2:17 pm:

    This program was passed as part of a bipartisan deal that also reformed the public school funding formula. The public schools got a record level of funding and private schools got this program that they have to fund with private donations. Why does everyone make this into a public vs private fight? I just want to see kids get a good education.


  38. - Spiritualized - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 2:18 pm:

    His budget book said he could cut the cap to $37.5 million and not harm any current scholarship recipients. Not even close to correct. Time to hire new policy staff.


  39. - TwoCents - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 2:20 pm:

    Anonymous - this program doesn’t take money away from public schools either. These are private donations. Not to mention this program was actually part of a bipartisan compromise that funded public schools at a record level and made the funding formula more equitable.


  40. - Pick a Name - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 2:54 pm:

    So, why is Jay Robert doing this??


  41. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 3:01 pm:

    Please stop calling it school choice.
    There is no “choice.”
    There are either neighborhood public schools or charter schools - they cannot co-exist for long. Charters drain resources from neighborhood schools until, eventually, they starve to death.

    Or to misquote Grover Norquist:
    I don’t want to abolish public schools. I simply want to reduce them to the size where I can drag them into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.


  42. - thechampaignlife - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 3:07 pm:

    Another indirect revenue stream for private schools is the Education Expense Credit. That credit cuts your income tax by $750 if you paid at least $3250 in tuition. It is equivalent to a deduction of $15k (i.e., $15k in tax free income because you paid $3k in tuition).


  43. - edforall - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 4:25 pm:

    If I were J.B. Pritzker, I’d propose to:
    1) cut the allowable limit of eligible contributions by $10M, which saves the state $7.5M
    2) eliminate the nonsensical provision that prevents donors from taking a federal deduction and forces Illinois taxpayers to send local dollars to the feds.
    Now, ain’t everyone happy?


  44. - A guy - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 4:30 pm:

    Such small potatoes. He easily could have simply left it alone through the test period. This decision makes little difference and will anger more than it pleases. With everything else out there, this is a silly place to focus.


  45. - City Zen - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 4:45 pm:

    ==Such small potatoes.==

    1.4% of the education budget.

    It took about one month to anoint a new “Governor 1.4 percent”. Congrats, JB. Your sash is being extended as we speak.


  46. - MyTwoCents - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 4:56 pm:

    There is nothing stopping donors from making tax deductible donations for scholarships to all these schools and organizations. All this program did was create a special class of charitable donations different from donations made to any other non-profit organization. So theoretically even if this program went away, the scholarships wouldn’t necessarily went away…unless the donors were making the donations to simply reduce their taxes instead of supporting school choice for low income students.


  47. - Anon - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 4:56 pm:

    Governor kick the can hates poor people.

    This is his version of let them eat cake.


  48. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 5:18 pm:

    A lot of headaches for 6 million bucks.


  49. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 6:46 pm:

    Strange, this is a far cheaper way to educate low income kids.


  50. - Adrian - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 6:46 pm:

    Bad decision. Cut something else. This program had bipartisan support for a reason. It helps low income children. It encourages individuals and businesses to invest in education. As previous posts point out, state gets great return for small investment. Those claiming constitutional issues clearly haven’t followed the case law on this issue. Illinois is one of 18 states with similar programs.


  51. - Anonymous - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 6:47 pm:

    The governor seems to care more about teachers unions than poor kids. Not a good look.


  52. - wordslinger - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 6:49 pm:

    –This is a bipartisan education program. –

    This was a face-saving out for Rauner after he jammed himself up by not understanding the consequences of vetoing the school-funding bill.

    Curious that parochial school supporters couldn’t raise $25 million to leverage another $75 million from the state for tuition. Was there no coordinated effort by the Archdiocese of Chicago?

    In my neighborhood, the former CEO of McDonald’s ponied up $3 million to build a parking garage at Fenwick. That could have leveraged another $9 million from the state if it would have gone to scholarships.


  53. - Anon - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 7:02 pm:

    We knew jb was in the bag for the unions, but he has essentially turned over the entire state government to them.

    He has become a raging disappointment and it is alarming to realize he has almost 4 years left run things into the ground.

    He is owned lock, stock and barrel by the unions. We knew it was bad but it is even worse than any of us could ever have imagined.


  54. - Enviro - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 8:03 pm:

    The investment of 100 million in public early childhood preschool education for disadvantaged children is the best way to help poor children have a better education.


  55. - Blue Dog Dem - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 9:06 pm:

    I would rather offer these types of donations than give Amazon a $3 billion credit of any sort. Darn . Do I sound like that girl in NY?


  56. - Union Thug Gramma - Thursday, Feb 21, 19 @ 9:15 pm:

    We need more funding for public schools. If you want to send you child to a private school, THEN PAY FOR IT.


  57. - Pick a Name - Friday, Feb 22, 19 @ 7:16 am:

    Gramma—We do pay for it. And, we also pay for your kids to attend public schools thru our real estate taxes.

    But, I’m sure you know that.


  58. - allidap - Friday, Feb 22, 19 @ 8:54 am:

    This program was added to appease Republicans to sign on to the evidence base formula. If you get a 75% tax break on your doantion then yes you are taking money away from the revenue stream that could be directed to the poorer schools. No public funds should pay for private education. I am not only a graduate of private schools but also sent my kids to both private and public. The decision was mine. If private schools want public funds then 1. lose your tax exemption. 2. Accept all children


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