Gov. Bruce Rauner says the spending plan he will present during his budget address next month will be balanced, but would include spending cuts.
Rauner, who spoke with reporters after meeting with small business owners at the Edwardsville Public Safety Building, said he would not give specifics about possible cuts in the 2018-19 budget. […]
The state House is scheduled to go back into session Jan. 23 and the state Senate on Jan. 30. Rauner’s State Of The State Address is scheduled for Jan. 31, and his budget address is scheduled for Feb. 14.
“I have proposed a balanced budget every year I’ve been governor,” Rauner said.
“Today we present you with a balanced budget that shows what is possible if we all come together on a comprehensive approach to state finances and job creation” the governor told lawmakers.
Yet, the budget book produced by the governor’s office of management and budget suggests the budget is balanced by “working together on a grand bargain.” A so-called grand bargain budget compromise, though, has not been achieved or enacted.
Illinois government finance experts agree Rauner’s proposal is not balanced.
In the heated primary for attorney general, Democrats tried to raise money quick after incumbent Lisa Madigan’s surprise decision not to seek re-election. State Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, reported $781,825, spent about $109,000 and has $1.079 million on hand. He received $5,000 from Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, and smaller contributions from other fellow Democratic lawmakers. And he took in $10,000 each from Top Tobacco, Top Tubes and Republic Tobacco, all contributions that have been criticized by some of his opponents.
Former Gov. Pat Quinn received about $79,000 in contributions for his bid for attorney general, including a $55,400 transfer from the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters PAC. He spent $32,496.08 and has $278,714.04 on hand.
Former Civilian Office of Police Accountability chief Sharon Fairley received more than $195,000 in contributions, and reported a $300,000 loan from herself. She has $387,840 on hand. Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti took in $345,000 in contributions and spent about $146,000. He has a bit more than $198,000.
State Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, took in $506,000 in contributions and spent about $72,100. He has $731,187.94 on hand.
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering took in more than $452,000 in contributions and $178,000 in loans. She spent $146,000 and had $574,383 on hand.
Chicago Park Board President Jesse Ruiz took in about $449,000 in contributions and loaned himself $100,000. He spent $194,000 and had $355,147 on hand.
Attorney Aaron Goldstein reported nearly $18,000 in contributions and loaned himself $185,000. He spent nearly $30,000 and has $206,959 on hand.
Erika Harold opposed legalizing marijuana back in 2014 when she ran for Congress — but on Tuesday, the Republican attorney general candidate said she believes Illinois should start “exploring” legalization.
She noted that there is a push in Illinois to legalize pot, and the state should be ready.
“I want Illinois to prepared for that because I think that’s ultimately where we’re going to be,” Harold said. “And I think we want to be prepared to deal with it in a way that makes sense and that protects people as much as possible.” […]
While Harold — who lost a bid for Congress in 2014 to U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis — criticized outgoing attorney general Lisa Madigan for over-politicizing her post in fighting President Donald Trump’s policies, the Harvard-educated lawyer and former Miss America on Tuesday also took issue with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ memo that rescinded a policy that discouraged federal prosecutors in most marijuana cases from bringing charges wherever the drug is legal under state laws. It essentially allows federal prosecutors to more aggressively prosecute marijuana laws.
Then there’s state Rep. Scott Drury of suburban Highwood. He’s the real black sheep of this august group, the bete noir of a party establishment led by Democratic state party chairman and all-powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Madigan not only doesn’t want Drury to win the Democratic Party’s nomination to run for his daughter’s current job, he also doesn’t — make that didn’t — want Drury in the race at all.
That’s why powerful Democrats tried — and failed — to knock Drury off the ballot with a clever ploy to challenge the legality of his candidate filing.
Was Madigan behind the effort?
He’s too clever to leave his fingerprints behind. But Madigan’s chief of staff, Tim Mapes, obtained copies of Drury’s petitions, and Drury was the only candidate whose petitions were challenged by party regulars.
As I told subscribers weeks ago, Mapes pulled petitions for just about every candidate in just about every race throughout the state.
* Candidates for Illinois Attorney General discuss women’s issues, Trump: Chicago resident Milton Davis said he was impressed with the candidates’ qualifications and answers. Still, Davis said it was hard for a specific candidate to stand out in a crowded field with similar progressive views. “There was not any one,” Davis said. “I saw some of the same answers come from different people.”
Recent questions over Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Medicaid managed care overhaul have mostly focused on the program’s rising costs and secretive contracting processes. Much less attention has been paid to the potential human impact of the program, which will force more than 500,000 people to change their insurance plans, and touch roughly one quarter of all Illinois residents. While the goal of the program is to improve health and reduce costs, there will, in fact, be plenty of people harmed by the transition.
Among the most at-risk are children with chronic, severe medical conditions, also known as children who are medically fragile. For children who are medically fragile, managed care will be devastating. Cutting services and benefits is the only way for managed care organizations to reduce costs for this population.
Until her death in 2014, my daughter Karuna participated in a program called the Medically Fragile, Technology Dependent Medicaid Waiver, which allows children requiring ventilators, tracheostomies or central intravenous lines to live at home, thanks to home nursing provided by Illinois Medicaid. Traditionally, states have recognized that children like Karuna aren’t a good fit for managed care, because their needs are too specialized and extraordinary. Unfortunately, the Rauner administration chose to ignore this precedent, and plans on moving these children into managed care starting in July.
The few states that have moved individuals who are medically fragile into managed care have experienced unanticipated negative outcomes, including loss of home nursing care; elimination of therapy services, medication and service denials; hospitalizations; emergency visits; and even deaths. In Illinois, the situation would likely be even worse, since managed care organization contracts have no provisions that would ensure children who are medically fragile maintain access to their medical equipment suppliers, home nurses and pediatric subspecialists. These omissions will put the lives of children like Karuna at risk, and will also inevitably cost taxpayers, who will be forced to pay for hospitalizations when children can’t get the care they need at home.
In a rare break of the usual tradition of House incumbents either backing each other or staying neutral in a primary, Illinois Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez on Wednesday are endorsing challenger Marie Newman over Rep. Dan Lipinski.
Newman winning the backing of Schakowsky and Gutierrez dramatizes the intra-party Democratic divide that is animating this contest for the third congressional district seat.
Lipinski is one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress. Newman’s views are allied with Schakowsky and Gutierrez, prominent members of the Democratic progressive wing.
Informing Newman’s bid: In the March 2016 presidential primary, in the third district, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent, beat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton went on to defeat President Donald Trump in the district.
Governor Bruce Rauner reiterated yesterday that an ad, featuring embattled Governor Eric Greitens, was only taken down because of scheduling. Rauner said the campaign decision to take down the ad was “not related” to news that Greitens has been accused of blackmailing his mistress, or that Greitens is facing calls for his own resignation. Nope, Rauner was not making any grand statement with his decision.
Rauner’s put at least $1.3 million behind an ad featuring Governor Greitens, which has been running on and off since Rauner announced for reelection. When news broke last week that Greitens was accused of blackmailing his mistress, Rauner did not renounce Greitens’ endorsement and his campaign told reporters the ad was simply being shifted out of rotation. Rauner’s campaign even left up a Facebook post with the ad.
Yesterday, Rauner was asked if the ad came down because of accusations against Greitens – Rauner said that was not the case (watch here):
“Question: In regard to your past political support for Governor Greitens, maybe you can tell us why the ‘Thank You, Mike Madigan’ ad was pulled and do you think Governor Greitens should resign?
“Rauner: Ah, well, the charges that have been made, the allegations in that situation are very serious. There is an investigation underway. And I do hope they get to the truth in that situation very quickly.
“Question: So, you have not made any decision on whether he should resign?
“Rauner: I think the investigation is underway.
“Question: Why was the ad pulled, the ‘Thank You, Mike Madigan’ ad?
“Rauner: Ah, I don’t think those were related. I think there’s a plan in place that’s been going on for a while about messaging and that’s a separate issue.”
Back at home, members of his own party are calling for Greitens to step aside. But not Bruce Rauner, who has not ruled out running the ad again.
“Bruce Rauner is sticking by his political allies rather than doing what is right,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “It’s time for Rauner to cut ties with Governor Greitens, stop playing his video on social media, and promise never to run the ad again. Rauner has failed to show any moral leadership this week and giving political support to an accused blackmailer is sending the wrong message.”
* Rauner campaign…
Last week, in response to a new Citizens for Rauner TV ad, JB Pritzker claimed that “nobody knew” the FBI was investigating now-imprisoned ex-governor Rod Blagojevich at the time he was caught on FBI wiretap negotiating with him for his own appointment to statewide political office.
But his own words on FBI tapes about cutting an insider deal with Blagojevich, combined with prominent media reports publicly showing how the investigation into corruption in the Blagojevich administration unfolded, clearly show that JB Pritzker wasn’t telling the truth.
So why did JB Pritzker lie to cover up his ties to Blagojevich? Because telling the truth would reveal decades of corrupt, insider dealing in the midst of his campaign for governor. The two were cozy political allies, engaged in endless favor-trading – until one of them ended up behind bars.
Here’s a timeline to illustrate their unseemly connection:
1996 – JB Pritzker makes his first appearance as a money man for Blagojevich’s political career, saying ‘I’m JB Pritzker; I help with fund-raising’ (Jorge Oclander, “In Mell’s World, It’s Politics as Usual,” Chicago Sun-Times, 3/23/1996)
1996 – JB Pritzker and his wife give $3,000 to Blagojevich’s congressional campaign
1998 – After JB Pritzker finished 3rd out of five candidates in the Democratic primary for U.S. Congress in Illinois’ 9th Congressional district, Blagojevich gushes praise on the failed candidate, saying, “Remember, Abraham Lincoln didn’t win his first election and Mario Cuomo lost several races before he got elected. For JB, this is only the beginning”
2002 – JB Pritzker gives $30,000 to Blagojevich’s first gubernatorial run (State Board of Elections)
2003 – As a reward for being a member of his infamous $25,000 Club, Blagojevich appoints JB Pritzker as chair of the Illinois Human Rights Commission
2006 – Pritzker gives $100,000 to Blagojevich’s reelection campaign (State Board of Elections)
2006 – As a reward for being his 5th biggest donor, Blagojevich authorizes $1 million state grant to Holocaust museum project for which JB Pritzker served as finance chief
2008 – FBI wiretaps reveal Pritzker encouraged Blagojevich to engage in a quid pro quo with Mike Madigan for President-elect Obama’s soon-to-be vacated U.S. Senate seat, while lobbying for a top state job for himself
2018 – JB Pritzker claims no one knew Blagojevich was being investigated
Democrats in Maryland’s state legislature on Tuesday rolled out three bills in response to the new tax overhaul that President Trump signed last month, including trying to protect state and local tax (SALT) deductions. […]
One of the bills is designed to mitigate the fact that the new tax law caps the SALT deduction at $10,000. Under the measure, Maryland residents would be able to make charitable contributions to a state fund and receive a credit against their state taxes. The donations could still be deductible from federal taxes.
The other two bills would decouple Maryland’s tax code from the federal tax code.
One would allow Maryland residents to still claim personal exemptions on their state taxes, even though personal exemptions are eliminated from the federal tax code. Lawmakers said that residents would see state tax increases absent this change.
The other would separate the Maryland and federal estate taxes. The new federal tax law increases the amount that’s exempt from the estate tax to about $11 million for an individual, and Maryland Democrats want to limit the state’s exemption about to about $5 million.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed conversion from an income tax to a payroll tax would be voluntary for some businesses, officials said Tuesday.
Cuomo, a Democrat, broke with expectation and did not include details of his planned changes to the state tax code when he unveiled a $168.2 billion spending plan. Instead, the governor said his tax commissioner will release a preliminary report on the potential change on Wednesday, as well as other proposals to help high-tax New York avoid the pinch of federal limits on the deductibility of state and local taxes.
That includes, as other states have proposed, setting up dedicated funds through which New Yorkers could donate to local governments and allowing businesses to substitute payroll taxes — which are fully deductible under the federal tax bill, H.R. 1 (115) — for income taxes, whose combined deductibility with property taxes is capped at $10,000. […]
The payroll tax switch has been described by business leaders as more complicated than the donation-credit ideas advancing in New Jersey and California, but its principal benefit is its application to a wider range of people — not simply those who elect to use it, as a donation would be.
The proposed California workaround, by Senate leader Kevin de Leon, is the first of what are expected to be several legislative efforts in high-tax states to mitigate the impact of the SALT deduction cap on their residents.
The average state and local tax deduction claimed by Californians is well above the cap, at $18,438, according to de Leon’s office.
To help ensure they can still deduct much or all of the state and local taxes they pay, de Leon has proposed letting residents make a charitable contribution to the state in exchange for a tax credit.
That way, the charitable contribution would be deductible on their federal return, since the new federal tax law doesn’t limit deductions for charitable gifts except in certain instances.
Amends the Illinois Income Tax Act. Creates an income tax credit in an amount equal to the contributions made by the taxpayer to the Illinois Excellence Fund during the taxable year. Amends the State Finance Act. Creates the Illinois Excellence Fund. Provides that moneys in the Fund shall be used for exclusively public purposes, as specified under Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code relating to charitable contributions and gifts. Amends the Counties Code. Provides that the county board may establish a fund in the county treasury for the purpose of accepting contributions for exclusively public purposes, as specified under Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code relating to charitable contributions and gifts and may provide for a credit against the taxpayer’s property tax liability in an amount equal to the amount of the contribution. Effective immediately.
* The Chicago Sun-Times is broadcasting its editorial board meeting with the Democratic gubernatorial candidates on YouTube. Watch it…
*** UPDATE 1 *** Rauner campaign…
Following the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board meeting with Democratic candidates for Illinois governor, Citizens for Rauner Communications Director Will Allison released the following statement:
“One thing was clear from today’s forum: no matter who wins the Democratic primary, he’ll be running on an agenda of more tax hikes on Illinois families and businesses. For JB Pritzker, he claims he has detailed plans, but when will he specify the rates on his progressive income tax proposal?” - Will Allison, Communications Director for Citizens for Rauner
“Today’s Chicago Sun-Times editorial board meeting was a train-wreck for Illinois Democrats, with candidates arguing amongst themselves over who is most beholden to the special interests and crooked politics that have dominated Illinois for so long. The reality is that they all have deep ties to disgraced politicians like Mike Madigan or Rod Blagojevich, and that the general election will be a stark contrast between their politics as usual and the reform agenda of Governor Bruce Rauner.” – Republican Governors Association Spokesman Steven Yaffe
*** UPDATE 2 *** Pritzker campaign…
Today, JB Pritzker demonstrated why he is the best candidate to take on Bruce Rauner and get Illinois back on track at the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board interview. JB highlighted his record of getting big things done for Illinois’ working families and standing up for progressive values while consistently holding Bruce Rauner accountable for his failed leadership. JB laid out his plans to reverse Rauner’s systemic disinvestment in Illinois communities and grow the economy statewide, demonstrating he is the candidate with the vision and leadership to move Illinois forward.
“JB is the only candidate in this race ready to take on Bruce Rauner and he made that clear at the Sun-Times today,” said Pritzker campaign manager Anne Caprara. “With his record of standing up for progressive values and his plans to grow the Illinois economy and create jobs statewide, it is clear that JB has the vision and leadership to move Illinois forward. JB was proud to hold that record up to Bruce Rauner’s record of failed leadership and will continue to make that message clear throughout this campaign.”
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign on Tuesday clarified the governor believes former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke is a racist, amid Democratic criticism that Rauner failed to take such a stand a day earlier.
After fumbling the answer to a question about whether a former Ku Klux Klan leader is a racist, the campaign of Republican Bruce Rauner on Tuesday clarified the governor’s opinion of David Duke.
During a radio interview on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Rauner was asked if President Donald Trump was racist following reports he used vulgar language to refer to African nations. Trump allegedly also questioned why America would want to accept more immigrants from Haiti. Rauner repeatedly declined to directly answer, saying “that language has no place in our political conversation.”
When WVON-AM host Charles Thomas on Monday asked if Duke is a racist, Rauner would only respond “we have racism in our society.”
“We have got to come together to change our system,” Rauner said.
It’s not the first time Rauner has been criticized for attempting to brush aside questions about racism. Last summer, he resisted denouncing a political cartoon amid complaints that its message was racist. He also was slow to label a deadly incident in Charlottesville, Va. involving white supremacists as domestic terrorism.
Whether it’s because he’s being cautious or isn’t prepared for such questions, Rauner’s responses sometimes end up making the issues bigger than they otherwise might have been. Facing a primary challenge from his right flank and looking ahead to a potentially tough general election, Rauner’s political calculation has been to avoid further alienating his conservative base, even if that means allowing a narrative to emerge that calls into question his willingness to denounce the fringe elements from his party.
It’s been a tough road for Gov. Rauner, who can hardly go a day, it seems, without putting out a fire, tamping down a crisis or making an unforced error.
It happened again this week when Rauner joined WVON hosts on the Martin Luther King holiday. That’s when Charles Thomas (former ABC political reporter) and Maze Jackson asked Rauner about Donald Trump’s recent immigration comments and whether the president was racist. Rauner danced around it, as he does with just about every Trump question. Thomas pushed Rauner: “is David Duke racist? … I mean, what about Donald Trump?” […]
Duke, the former KKK leader, wrote of Rauner on his web site: “deep down in his soul, deep down something’s happened inside of him, and he knows that I’m not really a racist.”
Nah man, Rauner definitely thinks you’re a racist. Rauner’s problem is that he ties himself into a pretzel to avoid talking about Trump. Now he’s paying the price.
But a source from the Kennedy campaign tells POLITICO that Kennedy later this week is expected to give himself a “significant boost” by once again digging into his own pockets. Kennedy so far has donated $500,000 to his own campaign fund. He’s up against billionaire J.B. Pritzker who has plowed $42 million into his bid. However, lesser known candidate, state Sen. Daniel Biss, waited to start ads until after the new year and has burned through less cash, giving him more money to play with before Election Day.
Kennedy has actually contributed $750,000 to his campaign so far. Those contributions, in $250,000 increments, have mostly been made at the end of the quarters. He can’t wait until the end of this quarter, which would fall after primary day. So, he’s planning to kick in his usual $250K later this week, I’m told.
Obviously, he needs a whole lot more cash than that. And there are those on the campaign pushing him to dig much deeper into his bank account. But Kennedy doesn’t have Pritzker or Rauner money. A longtime friend of his told me not long ago that he believed Kennedy was worth about $10 million. So, by that measure, after this next $250K check, Kennedy will have kicked in ten percent of his net worth. Pritzker would need to spend $340 million before reaching that same point.
Spending on advertising ramped up significantly this quarter, with candidates reporting a total of $15 million in advertising-related costs. This compares to just $6.2 million spent on ads in the 3rd quarter, and $7.5 million spent in the 2nd quarter. J.B. Pritzker led the pack in ad spending with $8.4 million. Governor Rauner followed close behind with $6.7 million in reported ad spending in the 4th quarter. Senator Biss reporting $85,000 in ad-related costs, while candidates Kennedy and Ives both reported about $11,000 each in ad spending. Kennedy reported an additional $32,000 in printing costs, which could include some print advertising.
Personnel was the next most costly expenditure reported by gubernatorial candidates, with a total of $3.1 million spent on staffing-related items. J.B. Pritzker reported $2 million in personnel costs, while Rauner reported just under $400,000. Chris Kennedy spent an amount close to Rauner, with $381,000, and Senator Biss reported about $300,000 in personnel costs. Total payroll costs slightly exceeded the third quarter, in which candidates reported spending a total of $2.35 million.
Finally, candidates spent heavily on consulting services. Chris Kennedy spent a considerable amount in this category, totaling about $912,000 – just over half of his $1.6 million in spending for the quarter. Over $681,000 of his consultant spending was labeled as “media consulting.” Pritzker spent the most on consulting with $1.6 million, and Rauner and Biss trailed with $376,000 and $112,000 respectively.
Man, that Pritzker and his spending. Whew. $2 million on staff? In three months?
And the way I read Kennedy’s D-2, most of Kennedy’s “media consulting” expenditures were actually for producing and broadcasting his TV ad. So, I don’t think ICPR got that one right.
A Democratic candidate for Illinois governor accused another on Tuesday of not playing by the rules when it comes to affordable housing.
State Sen. Daniel Biss said one of his opponents, Chris Kennedy, is pushing people out of their neighborhood with the Wolf Point development on Chicago’s Near North Side.
One luxury high-rise is already up and another is on its way in the Wolf Point development, owned by the Kennedy family, along with three others.
But Biss claimed Tuesday that Kennedy should have considered how to provide affordable housing in the building - an issue that may have never surfaced had Kennedy not first criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel of a similar offense. […]
“When Chris Kennedy skirts the rules by using his connections to powerful attorneys to avoid affordable housing requirements, that doesn’t just make him richer, that pushes people out of a neighborhood and makes working families struggle more,” Biss said Tuesday.
However, Kennedy fired back and claimed Biss is misinformed.
“There was no law broken, there was no law skirted, there was no payoff,” Kennedy said, arguing that the land was zoned back in 1973, and therefore the city rules on affordable housing do not apply.
I’m not clear about how the Wolf Point development is “pushing people out of their neighborhood.” Seems overly dramatic.
On Tuesday, Biss used a luxury high-rise development being constructed by one of his opponents, Chris Kennedy, as the backdrop to make his case for repealing the state’s rent control ban.
Biss and his lieutenant governor running mate, Rep. Litesa Wallace, were joined at the press conference by Rep. Will Guzzardi, who is the main sponsor of the repeal legislation, and Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th), who said he wants the city to enact rent control. […]
But he’s found surprising company on the rent control issue from Pritzker, who also has staked a claim to it as he tries to burnish his own progressive credentials and fight back against Biss’ portrayal of him as just another out-of-touch billionaire.
In an interview last week, Pritzker told me he also favors removing the state “moratorium” so that local communities could “choose to have rent control.”
“That’s one example of how we might be able to begin to fight gentrification,” he said.
Pritzker also pointedly noted: “That’s not something that Chris Kennedy has advocated.”
A Kennedy spokeswoman confirmed his opposition to rent control and accused Biss of “political pandering.”
“Chris supports affordable housing and the need to put an end to strategic gentrification. Rent control is not a solution solving either of those issues. In fact, studies show that rent control worsens income inequality in gentrifying cities,” she said.
But with Pritzker believed to be well ahead in the polls—though short of 50 percent—the only way to catch him may be for either Biss or Kennedy to effectively implode or otherwise be made irrelevant, leaving the survivor with a better shot.
Biss’ pivot to attacking Kennedy is “a smart move,” said Democratic consultant Tom Bowen, who is not working for a candidate for governor this winter. “The battle for the No. 2 position is the only way to block Pritzker. Fracturing the vote won’t work.”
Put a different way, with Pritzker having consolidated support from labor, committeemen and much of the rest of the party establishment, the question is whether Kennedy or Biss will be able to do so among progressives.
Said a close Kennedy ally, “Biss has no choice” but to go negative on Kennedy. “He has to find a way to step over Chris to have a shot against Pritzker.”
Pritzker doesn’t need 50 percent in a multi-candidate primary, but the rest of this is right. Biss has to somehow leapfrog Kennedy.
But this fight for second place can’t last too long. The object is to win, not come in second. Kennedy’s famous last name keeps him in the race. Biss has a few million bucks to play with, but that’s not enough to overcome Kennedy’s inherent advantage.
Empower Illinois understands and appreciates the effort to resolve the recognition issue facing many private K-12 schools in Illinois. All quality private schools deserve access to the Tax Credit Scholarship Program provided by the Invest in Kids Act.
After the passage of SB1947, many private schools found themselves investigating how to participate in the tax credit program.
While many were registered with the Illinois State Board of Education, a significant number had not pursued recognition, a voluntary process many deemed unnecessary in the private school marketplace.
While Governor Rauner’s amendatory veto of SB444 aimed to allow these schools to participate this year, it went too far, decreasing the standard schools need to meet in order to participate, and imperiling the positive funding opportunities of SB444.
Empower Illinois believes that a compromise can be reached, which will increase the number of schools that can participate in the program without decreasing their quality, instead improving the standards that allow participation in the program. The compromise, if signed by the Governor, will also allow SB444 to become law.
EI urges legislators to refile SB444, with the following amendment added:
“Qualified school” means a non-public school located in Illinois and recognized by the Board pursuant to Section 2-3.25o of the School Code or accredited by an accrediting agency approved by the Board. A non-public school shall become a qualified school immediately upon being recognized by the Board or immediately upon having their accreditation status approved by the Board.
Accreditation, like recognition, is a detailed review process, but it goes further — it not only looks at the health and safety at non-public schools, but also a school’s academic quality.
Further, it is our position that if a school is recognized or accredited in the 2017-2018 school year, IDOR should allow SGOs to list these schools for donors to donate to, and for students to receive scholarships. Of course, SGOs would not be able to submit payment to these schools until they officially become recognized or upon adoption of the suggested amendment, accredited too.
This amendment would not unnecessarily hold up critical public-school funding in Illinois while also increasing the number, and quality of non-public schools that can participate in the first year of the tax credit scholarship program.
It’s a win-win for all; especially the children for whom are our priority.