(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he will support extending the Invest in Kids school choice scholarship program that expires at the end of the year, but it’s up to the legislature to send him something to sign.
A recent poll regarding the state’s Invest in Kids Act shows that more than half of Illinois residents favor its extension. The program allows donors to get a 75% Illinois income tax credit toward donations to fund school choice scholarships for qualified families throughout the state.
The poll by Impact Research shows that 56% of voters still support the program and that 58 of the 80 parents who participated in the poll favored its extension.
Sabrina Sibby of Southside Chicago has four boys involved in the program. Last month, she told The Center Square that she may have to quit her job to homeschool her children to avoid placing them back into Chicago Public Schools if the program is cut.
“I probably would opt into homeschooling,” Sibby said. “That would be difficult for me because then I would have to quit my job and work on making sure he gets the things he needs to get. I’m still sure it would be a financial burden on me because I would have to purchase certain things.”
The program makes it possible for lower-income residents who otherwise couldn’t afford private school tuition to send their children to schools of their choosing.
Illinois Education Association President Al Llorens opposes extension of the program.
“We believe the new Invest in Kids voucher scheme proposal acknowledges that more white students have been helped by the program than anyone else, even though proponents have tried to tout the program as helping Black and Brown students,” Llorens said.
Pritzker was asked at an unrelated event Thursday if the program would be extended during the fall veto session.
“I have said it, and I think both sides are lobbying the various folks in the General Assembly, I will support it if it comes to my desk in any form,” Pritzker said. “I can’t imagine it will show up in some form where I’d be unwilling to, but again, the reality is that the legislature needs to go through this process, and I’ve said that from the very beginning.”
Filing a bill to extend the measure is “where the rubber meets the road,” Pritzker said.
State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, said the right thing to do for Illinois families is to extend the program.
“I trust that when we return next week for Veto Session, the General Assembly will do the right thing for students, parents & our communities and make Invest In Kids permanent,” Halbrook told The Center Square in a text. “This program has and is making a positive impact on our students all across our great state.”
Lawmakers return to session on Oct. 24.