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Pritzker suggests changing Invest in Kids tax credit

Friday, Jun 2, 2023 - Posted by Rich Miller

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Despite the Illinois General Assembly taking no action in extending the Invest in Kids school choice scholarship program, the governor says it still may be approved this year.

The program, which grants tax credits to people who use private dollars to fund scholarships that allow students to attend private schools, is scheduled to sunset Dec. 31, if legislative action isn’t taken.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said lawmakers could approve an extension during a special session or during the fall veto session, but that the tax credit portion of the program needs to be reworked.

“I think we should have tax credits that support education and other things in state government, but we also have the federal government willing to cover about 40% of the cost,” Pritzker said at an unrelated event in Champaign Wednesday. “Why have we created a program in which we’re paying for 75% of it and not having the rest of the country essentially paying 40%?”

More from Pritzker’s quote…

This is a problem in the fundamental makeup of it. And I’ve suggested to the General Assembly if they decide to renew Invest in Kids, let’s alleviate the burden on Illinois taxpayers and make sure that, frankly, as other states do, let’s let other states pay in part for the benefit that we get.

I called the governor’s office to ask for clarification. The way the state tax credit is written, people who donate to Invest in Kids can’t claim any federal income tax deduction. But the law can be rewritten to allow for that.

* Meanwhile, you may have noticed that the Tribune has given failed mayoral candidate Paul Vallas a regular column. His latest is about Invest in Kids and quotes both Wirepoints and the Illinois Policy Institute

Chalkbeat Chicago reports that Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s 2024 budget, just approved in Springfield, adds another $570 million in education funding, a 6.2% increase that brings annual K-12 funding to $10.3 billion. And yet the legislature could not muster the courage to extend the modest Illinois Invest in Kids tax credit scholarship program.

Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin, in now classic union fashion, has said that “once we get to fully funding our schools, then let’s talk about adding these types of programs.” Hogwash!

Personally, I’d like to see an analysis of whether the students/parents who’ve benefited from the program were receiving similar scholarships before Invest in Kids was begun, or whether they’re all new to the private school system.


  1. - jim - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 12:29 pm:

    I would imagine people already can give to these scholarship programs and take a a traditional federal tax deduction for charitable donations instead of the state credit.
    If so, he’s not really saying anything of substance.
    Those who take the tax credit under the current law are not eligible to take a federal tax deduction.

  2. - notsosure - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 12:37 pm:

    I would love to see that, too. Many private schools, from all walks of life, had scholarship programs before Invest in Kids, and without a cut going to the middlemen. I’d also like to see an analysis of the reports the schools and middlemen are supposed to be providing.

  3. - Too cute by half - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 12:38 pm:

    We had someone email our office saying that we were going to H.E. double hockey sticks if we didn’t renew the Invest in Kids act.

    The street address was right by our office. The dude lives in a million dollar home.

    Yup, his kid needs a scholarship. /s

  4. - JS Mill - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 12:44 pm:

    =Yup, his kid needs a scholarship. /s=

    He also does not read his bible.

    I think the patronisingly named scholarship. should be ended.

  5. - ChicagoBars - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 12:54 pm:

    IIRC a handful of organizations act as clearing houses for the program participating schools so hopefully they at least have data on what zip codes/districts the scholarships were going to?

    A Chicago parent showed me the instructions they got to do Invest in Kids and my eyes just glazed over when I saw it required them to first register as individuals with the MyTax DOR portal to participate and I wished them hearty good luck. Having to create a MyTax account isn’t end of world but that’s a hurdle I bet many but most devoted donors gave up at.

  6. - charles in charge - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 1:01 pm:

    ==you may have noticed that the Tribune has given failed mayoral candidate Paul Vallas a regular column.==

    How can we ever miss Paul when he won’t go away?

  7. - Skokie Man - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 1:05 pm:

    When private schools are given government dollars the inevitable outcome is an increase in the cost of those private schools. The families that are currently priced out of private schools generally remain priced out. To wit:

    “Preparing for classes to resume next fall, St. Paul Catholic School in St. Petersburg told its families not to expect much difference in its tuition charges.

    “That changed after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure making state-funded private school vouchers of about $8,000 available to all school-age children, regardless of income. That’s the approximate amount Florida will pay next year to educate most students in public schools.

    “After consulting the Diocese of St. Petersburg, parents and other area Catholic schools, ‘we decided that we need to take maximum advantage of this dramatically expanded funding source,’ Monsignor Robert Gibbons, the St. Paul pastor, said in a YouTube video the school shared publicly.

    “‘Otherwise,’ he added, ‘we would be negligent.’”

    Points for saying the quiet part out loud.


  8. - Donnie Elgin - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 1:19 pm:

    “I’d like to see an analysis of whether the students/parents who’ve benefited from the program were receiving similar scholarships before Invest in Kids”

    For Rockford archdiocese Catholic schools, there is no equivalent to Invest in Kids - the only other “scholarships” are from local school fundraising - some Catholic High Schools have a needs-based fund - that might be called the “Angel Fund” or similar. Lower-income families can get a portion of the tuition paid depending on the cash raised. For Catholic grade schools, most have no such funds available.

  9. - Donnie Elgin - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 1:28 pm:

    JB’s missing the bigger picture - most folks that take advantage of the “tax credits” related to the scholarships are actively giving to qualified Scholarship Granting Organizations or SGOs only to support Catholic/Christian schools. Take away the program - then those donations are gone and the choice for lower-income families to go to better schools. Tryin to get Federal tax credits for these - is a head fake.

  10. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 1:32 pm:

    “Points for saying the quiet part out loud.”

    It’s not the quiet part. It’s what the church has been saying for years. It was reiterated, out loud, by the church during Vatican II that *governments have a duty* to fund catholic schools.

    Unfortunately, not many people were paying attention and others thought it would be a good idea to listen to the advice of a foreign country that is structured as a theocracy for its form of government.

    It’s a bad program for the state to be involved in, and a poor use of state education funding.

  11. - Simply Sayin' - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 1:36 pm:

    As a parent who has benefited from this program: At the two schools where we have used the scholarship, Invest scholarships supplemented, and did not replace, existing financial aid (we received some aid already, but not 100%). Without it, we likely could not have gone to one of the two schools, which had the best resources of the schools in the area, including public, to provide for the needs of one of our children with special needs.

  12. - Shlomo soroka - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 1:50 pm:

    The governor is absolutely right that the state’s provision preventing scholarship supporters from claiming a federal deduction is senseless.
    Illinois is the only state in the nation that has this provision.
    The way the federal deduction works though is not so simple. You cannot simply shift 40% of the burden onto the feds. Federal tax law does not allow donors to claim a federal deduction on the portion of the contribution for which they receive a state tax credit. (E.g. if someone contributes $1000 to this program and receives a $750 tax credit he/she would only be able to claim a charitable contribution of $250. For a donor in the highest tax bracket that deduction is worth $92.50 or 9.25 %.) Another important point to consider is that the majority of donors are low- and - middle income and do not itemize their charitable contributions. If they do, they are in lower tax brackets.

  13. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 1:51 pm:

    ===JB’s missing the bigger picture - most folks that take advantage of the “tax credits” related to the scholarships are actively giving to qualified Scholarship Granting Organizations or SGOs only to support Catholic/Christian schools.===

    Cite please.

    If they were, by the way, there would be no need for the plan to begin with, lol

  14. - DTownResident - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 2:18 pm:

    No reason why the current admin of the scholarships could not still do it and anyone getting the credit could get both the 3% state deduction and the federal one also instead of special credits.

  15. - Perrid - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 2:29 pm:

    I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face: We need better public schools that give a quality education to all, we don’t need to be funneling money to private actors to give some “lucky” students a better education. Charter schools are a distraction and a drain on the system and make life worse for everyone as a whole, because we all suffer from the failings of the education system.

  16. - Chicagonk - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 2:32 pm:

    I’m involved with Big Shoulders and this tax credit definitely does go to those who need it the most - It’s good to hear that Pritker still supports this. I know Rep Tarver has been a big advocate.

  17. - JS Mill - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 2:34 pm:

    =which had the best resources of the schools in the area, including public, to provide for the needs of one of our children with special needs.=

    That seems dubious at best, unless you are in CPS or Peoria.

  18. - H-W - Friday, Jun 2, 23 @ 3:04 pm:

    It pains me that Vallas has stolen my descriptor, “Hogwash.”

    I pray he is not intending this to become another typical Republican double-speak talking point; you know, where politicians say one thing but mean the opposite, as in “Freedom isn’t free.”

    Save the hogwash from being coopted by politicians.

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