Support grows for rescue of Invest in Kids funding
Democratic state Rep. Katie Stuart (Edwardsville) may have some explaining to do to a growing number of frustrated constituents in the 112th District.
Stuart is not yet among a growing group of lawmakers in Springfield who have signed on in support of bipartisan House Resolution 0289, which would prevent the phasing out of the Invest in Kids private school scholarship program. To the chagrin of many, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has targeted the program for dissolution as part of his proposed state budget.
"This year they got full rides, so I was like super excited," Jasmine Bland, a Springfield mother of two young kids that are part of the program, told WCIA.com. "But then literally like three days later, I hear that [Pritzker]'s trying to get rid of the program that made me so excited and caused so much joy. I'm like, 'Why would he want to do that?' Why do you want to make it more difficult on us for our kids to have the same chance?”
Bland is far from alone in her fears. A group of concerned parents from the Save My Scholarship campaign recently traveled to the State Capitol Building in Springfield to directly confront Pritzker and Democratic supporters about their planned elimination of Invest in Kids. Though Stewart has yet to speak publicly about HR 0289, she is known to have supported a number of anti-school choice bills in the past, among them House Bill 2100, which seeks to abolish the Charter School Commission.
Invest in Kids operates by allowing state-level tax credits from wealthy donors who sponsor scholarship funds for poor children in underperforming school districts to attend private schools. Critics have argued the program incentivizes students to turn their backs on the public school system, which results in less government funding based on sagging student enrollments.
Pritzker campaigned on dismantling the program while still a candidate, including reducing the program from its originally planned five years to just three at a purported savings of around $6 million for the state.