From the desk of State Rep, Kelly Burke, a loyal Crusader mom and a huge advocate for us in Springfield.

Dear Principals and Presidents: I hope the school year is off to a great start. I am writing to give you an update on the progress of the Illinois Kids Campaign. Earlier this summer, the legislature included two of the campaign’s proposals in our budget, namely increasing the tuition tax credit for parents from $500 to $750 and creating a $250 tax credit for teachers who purchase classroom and instructional material with their own funds. These tax credits go into effect this year, so parents and teachers can claim the new amounts when they file tax returns next spring.

This week, I was happy to support a new school funding bill which contained the last of three elements, the scholarship tax credit. We expect the Governor to sign the bill today.

Under this program, corporations and individuals will be able to donate to scholarship granting organizations (SGOs) which would award scholarships to students who meet certain income thresholds. The donors would receive a tax credit of 75% of their donation. Examples of existing organizations which would be considered SGOs are Big Shoulders and the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund. New SGOs can be created as well. Individual donors will be able to designate specific schools to receive their scholarship donation.

The income cap for the families of scholarship recipients is 300% of the Federal Poverty Level, which is currently about $75,000 for a family of four. The family’s income can increase to 400% of the FPL while the student receives the scholarship. Priority is given to students whose family income is 185% of the FPL or are in failing school districts.

The maximum scholarship amount is the lower of the tuition and fees at the school the student will attend OR the average per pupil spending in public schools (currently about $12,000). The program will go into effect for the 2018-2019 school year. The Illinois Department of Revenue will make the rules that will guide the SGOs and the application process.

There are many more details and I fully expect that the Illinois Kids Campaign will be doing outreach to your schools to give you those details and answer your questions. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any help.

Good luck and best wishes for a successful semester!