Democratic state lawmakers file bill extending school choice

Democratic state lawmakers file bill extending school choice

Chicago state Rep. Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar filed a bill that would extend Invest in Kids scholarships through 2028 but would cut total tax credits by one-third and therefore the number of scholarships. Another bill would make the program permanent.

Illinois Democratic state lawmakers have filed a bill that would add another five years but create restrictions on Invest in Kids scholarships for low-income students.

House Bill 4194, filed by state Rep. Angelica Guerrero-Cuellar, D-Chicago, and co-sponsored by three other Democrats, would extend the program through the end of 2028 but also lower income tax credits to $50 million from $75 million. It also:

• Allows contributions to be directed to an underserved area, but not to a particular student.

• Makes the first $5,000 contributed a 100% credit on state income taxes, which is up from 75% on all contributions.

• Drops the credit for donations above $5,000 to 55% if they are not directed to an underserved area.

• If donations are directed to an underserved area, credits above $5,000 are 65% deductible.

Teachers unions are advocating to let Invest in Kids die, cutting off scholarships for more than 9,600 low-income students who otherwise couldn’t afford tuition at private schools.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he would a sign a bill extending Invest in Kids if it passed both chambers, but has backed away from that stand and has repeatedly flip-flopped on the issue.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers and Illinois Education Association condemned Pritzker’s willingness to extend the program.

Empower Illinois, the largest scholarship granting organization in the state, reported the majority of its scholarship recipients in 2022 were Black or Hispanic.

A separate bill, House Bill 4105, would remove the sunset on Invest in Kids and make it permanent. That bill has no sponsors from the Democratic supermajority.

The legislative veto session for Oct. 26 was canceled. Lawmakers take a break and return to Springfield Nov. 7-9 to close out the veto session.

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