SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Last minute talks continued in Springfield on Thursday as pressure from lobbyists, interest groups, and citizens during an uneventful veto session.
Union child care and home care workers convened in Springfield on Wednesday demanding a raise and better retirement benefits.
Also on hand, supporters of a private school scholarship program set to sunset at the end of the year.
“My son, Wyatt went from low grades not loving school, crying, not asking to go to school,” Stacy Moore said. “The Invest in Kids Scholarship gave me the choice to put my son in private school at Christian Life School and a smaller school setting, he’s now getting A’s and B’s and we’re now talking about college.”
The 5-year-old scholarship program encourages private donors to fund scholarships for low-income children. Individuals and businesses who contribute get a tax credit equal to 75% of their donation.
Roughly 10,000 students benefit from it, but the powerful Chicago Teachers Union opposes it.
“There are children on these scholarships in each legislator’s district,” Sen. Republican Leader John Curran said. “It is time to represent the people of your district and not the ideology of your party.”
The program is being called a back-door voucher program, with critics saying there’s no proof the program improves academic achievement. In fact, Congressional Democrats urged their colleagues at the state level to let the scholarship expire.
“This program diverts public funds from the public school system to be used to pay for tuition at private and religious schools,” local U.S. representatives say.
Some state Democrats are working to save the program. A House compromise would shrink the scholarships to $50 million and sharpen the focus on low-income students. But privately, Republicans and Democrats both say there’s not enough support to pass it.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have introduced a proposal concerning Chicago’s elected School Board. The measure would allow voters to choose all 20 members next year.
The Chicago mayor would still choose the Board President until 2026.
Lawmakers made a deal with Governor Pritzker to lift the moratorium on new nuclear reactors.
Final approval could come before Thursday’s deadline.