Gov. Pritzker signs bill addressing tax credit scholarships

June 11, 2022

Illinois Policy Institute experts point to progress, but are still concerned for the program’s future after 2023

PRESS RELEASE from the
ILLINOIS POLICY INSTITUTE

CONTACT: Melanie Krakauer (312) 607-4977

Gov. Pritzker signs bill addressing tax credit scholarships 
Illinois Policy Institute experts point to progress, but are still concerned for the program’s future after 2023

CHICAGO (June 11, 2022) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill yesterday that amends Illinois’ Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship program to protect already-enrolled students. It is effective immediately.

About the Invest in Kids program: The Invest in Kids program was passed by lawmakers in 2017 and allows individuals and businesses to donate money to a scholarship-granting organization and receive a tax credit of 75 cents for every $1 donated. It offers low-income families scholarship money to attend qualified non-public schools that best suit their needs. More than 9,000 Illinois K-12 students received an Invest in Kids scholarship for the 2021-2022 school year, and about 26,000 were on the waitlist of Empower Illinois, the largest scholarship-granting organization in the state, last year.

Scholarships are awarded to K-12 students whose family income does not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level. In 2021, the average annual household income of participants who received scholarship money through Empower Illinois was just over $43,000. Nearly half of the children receiving scholarships are students of color. Bill 4126, sponsored by state Rep. Curtis Tarver, D-Chicago, grants super-priority status to current recipients of the Invest in Kids scholarship, providing assurance to families in the program that if students receive a scholarship one year, they will be first in line for a scholarship the next year. The legislation also gives schools greater flexibility to offer more partial scholarships.

But the program is currently set to expire Dec. 31, 2023, Illinois Policy Institute experts point out. That potentially leaves thousands of families’ futures uncertain.

“We’re pleased to see this bill signed into law as these scholarships can be life-changing for low-income families who wish to provide their children an education that fits their unique needs,” said Amy Korte, executive vice president for the Illinois Policy Institute. “The next step is ensuring the program will last beyond another year and can be there for the long term for students in need.”

Scholarships are awarded to K-12 students whose family income does not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level. In 2021, the average annual household income of participants who received scholarship money through Empower Illinois was just over $43,000. Nearly half of the children receiving scholarships are students of color.

Illinois Policy Institute recommendations for additional reforms:

  • Preserve and strengthen Illinois’ tax credit scholarship program by eliminating the 2023 sunset provision or extending the sunset by at least 10 years.
  • Allow businesses to designate a particular school as the recipient of their donations, as individual donors can do under current law.
  • Expand the program to include pre-K students.
  • Allow donors to make 100% of their gift federally deductible or creditable against state taxes.

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