Illinois Dems must make Rauner voucher plan a Red Line that cannot be crossed.


In talking to some Democratic legislators about the creation of a Tier III privatized pension option, I was told that this was the cost of getting Republican votes to override the governor’s budget veto.

I don’t believe it.

I just can’t believe that a dozen Republicans would cross their Republican governor for a Tier III.

As one long-time observer of Springfield machinations told me, “This was a Democratic Party plan. Madigan always wanted to unload pensions to the private sector.”

I think that’s about right.

Now, as attention turns to the Rauner’s veto of the education funding formula and funding bill, there is the real Republican demand of a huge voucher plan.

Under the draft proposal reviewed by WBEZ, individual taxpayers could choose to send up to $1 million annually to scholarship organizations rather than to the state Department of Revenue. Those diverted taxpayer dollars would fund scholarships to pay tuition cost at private or parochial schools, or to pay the cost for a public school education in a district outside a child’s community.

All told, the state could dole out $100 million annually in tax credits to finance this scholarship program. If the scholarship fund attracts at least $90 million in donations in any year, it would grow to $125 million. It could continue to grow by 25 percent annually, with no cap, as long as taxpayers send at least 90 percent of the maximum allowed to the fund. Donors could direct their money to a specific school, rather than a specific student, and some eligible students could be turned away.

The proposal is striking in its reach. Any family of four earning up to $113,775 annually would be eligible for a scholarship. In Illinois, 67 percent of families of two or more people earn up to $100,000 a year, according to U.S. Census data.

Another 18 percent of Illinois families earn up to $150,000. The median income is $71,500 for an Illinois family of at least two people, which is how the federal government defines a family.

The tax credit voucher proposal was never introduced in the General Assembly but resurfaced as a bargaining chip during talks over the school funding bill impasse. It was first reported on nearly two years ago by WBEZ.

The governor’s veto at the heart of that impasse has established a showdown in which lawmakers may vote to override the governor’s changes. But both sides have said they would prefer to work out a compromise, in which the tax scholarship program has entered the talks.

State Senator Daniel Biss called the voucher plan a “Red Line that Democrats cannot cross,” on our Hitting Left show.

All Democrats must be held accountable for this.


4 Replies to “Illinois Dems must make Rauner voucher plan a Red Line that cannot be crossed.”

  1. So the state of Illinois already falls far short of their obligations to fund PUBLIC schools, and we are supposed to give $100 mil to private and parochial schools?

  2. This one has support from unexpected places. Please “splain” what’s wrong w scholarships? Having freedom of choice is wrong, oh how un American Fred.
    Please explain rationally. Can you??

    1. There is no rational explanation for taking $100 million dollars from public schools and handing it over to parochial and private schools.

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