SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — After being unanimously passed by Democrats with no Republican support, Governor JB Pritzker signed the bill containing the fiscal year budget for 2024 into law Wednesday.
In signing the bill, Pritzker zeroed in on educational investments that he had been travelling the state, highlighting in weeks prior.
“You’ve seen we’ve put forward significant dollars to support education in every way possible,” Pritzker said at a ceremony for signing the bill Wednesday.
Cornerstone tenants of the bill include boosts to funding for K-12 education and higher ed, as well as the launch of Pritzker’s early childhood program, Smart Start.
Smart Start aims to provide every child in Illinois with access to preschool. It’s also intended to grow the childcare sector, while also investing in early intervention and home-visiting services.
“Birth through 5 [year-old] services and kindergarten readiness is the foundation for the rest of our children’s educational experiences,” Pritzker said.
The 2024 budget increases K-12 evidence based funding by $350 million, while diverting more dollars to college scholarships, state colleges and universities.
“With this budget, we have proven once again that we don’t have to choose between being a responsible state and a compassionate one,” said House Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch.
Alternatively, the budget ends the Rauner era ‘Invest in Kids’ Scholarship Tax Credit Program that offers a 75% income tax credit to individuals and businesses that contribute toward scholarship-granting organizations.
Illinois Senate Republican Leader John Curran slammed the end of the scholarship tax credit.
“The program helps about 10,000 disadvantaged kids throughout the state,” Curran said. “It was just an unwillingness on the part of Democrats to extend the program in the face of opposition, mainly from teacher unions.”
When asked about the program, Pritzker hinted it could be saved later this year.
“I think there’s time still for that program to be considered,” Pritzker said. “We still have the veto session and there are two separate parts of that session in October and November.”