SPRINGFIELD (Jan. 8, 2018) — Gov. Bruce Rauner sent Senate Bill 444 back to the General Assembly today, stating in a veto message that efforts to correct for errors and unintended consequences in last summer’s historic school funding reform law did not go far enough.
Lawmakers also should fix a defect that would prevent at least 36 Catholic and other independent schools — many of which serve African-American communities — from participating in the Invest in Kids program for up to two years, Rauner said.
Senate Bill 444, as written, does not address the exclusion from program participation of those schools not yet recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education. Invest in Kids creates a scholarship program affording low- to middle-income students opportunities to attend non-public schools through a system of tax credits for approved contributions.
SB 444 should include language that grants program eligibility to ISBE-registered schools, as well as those already recognized, to increase the number of schools affected and broaden the scope of potential applicants, according to the governor.
“Making this adjustment to this bill will maximize the number of schools eligible to participate, and therefore the number of students who may benefit,” Rauner said. “Inclusivity was the spirit of this legislation to begin with, and we simply must ensure that we follow through with the appropriate language to get the job done.”
Specifically, the governor has stated that he will approve Senate Bill 444 if it includes a proviso that Section 5 of the Invest in Kids Act is amended to define a qualified school as a non-public Illinois school “that is registered on or before February 15, 2018, or recognized by the Board pursuant to Section 2-3.25o of the School Code.”
“The students attending or looking to attend these schools deserve the same access to Invest in Kids scholarships as those in already recognized schools,” the governor wrote in his amendatory veto letter. “Their educational opportunities cannot wait for years.”