Illinois Empowers Funding Private Schools; Liberals Balk

The Republican governor and Democrat-controlled Legislature freed up private money for funding private schools.

Despite a long history of gridlock, the Illinois government has implemented a tax credit that will encourage people and businesses in funding private schools. Governor Bruce Rauner and the mainly Democrat legislature came up with a way to increase the number of poor students that will get to enroll in superior private schools. Naturally, the teachers’ union is livid.

KSDK reports, “Private School Tax Credit Surprises, Riles Some in Illinois.

Democratic-leaning Illinois is the latest state to direct taxpayer money to private schools, a development that’s caught some by surprise and brought condemnation from politically powerful teacher unions and Democrats looking to defeat the Republican governor in 2018.

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Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled Legislature last week approved a sweeping overhaul of the way Illinois funds schools. It included a new $75 million tax credit for people and companies that donated to private school scholarships.

“It’s an important way for lower income parents to have choices that higher income parents already enjoy because of the financial circumstances that they are blessed with,” said Rauner, a multimillionaire and longtime advocate for school choice.

The program allows people and companies to get a credit worth 75 percent of their donation, up to $1 million. Lawmakers say it will provide scholarships for 6,000 to 10,000 students statewide to attend private schools, where teachers and other staff typically aren’t unionized. The students must come from households with an annual income below 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $73,000 for a family of four.

Unions argue it will take money from public education to benefit the governor’s wealthy friends. The credit “is tantamount to planting a ticking time bomb on a bus and driving through school districts throughout the state, creating even greater debt and fiscal distress,” the Chicago Teachers Union said.

Many of the more than half-dozen Democrats running for governor have vowed to try to eliminate the tax credit, if elected.

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