DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - After the governor's budget address on Wednesday, the Catholic Conference of Illinois is concerned with the proposed cut to tax credit programs.

Invest in Kids in a tax credit program. Illinois enacted the Invest in Kids Scholarship Tax Credit program in 2017.

The program offers a 75 percent income tax credit to individuals and businesses that contribute to qualified Scholarship Granting Organizations (SOGs). The SOGs then provide scholarships for students whose families meet the income requirements to attend qualified, non-public schools in Illinois.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois reported the proposed cuts by Gov. J.B. Pritzker would slash the 75 percent tax credit to 40 percent.

"This program should be expanded, not restricted," said Zach Wichmann of government relations with the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois released a statement on Wednesday. 

"The proposal by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to slash the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship program reduces the most effective state program for low-income and working-class students in Illinois. Even during the pandemic, scholarship recipients have been attending high-quality, non-public schools.

"Students at Catholic schools have been learning in-person since August and have surpassed nationally-certified benchmarks.

"This is the time to expand the program so that more low-income and working-class students can attain educational achievement that will lead to a successful future.

"We urge the governor to reconsider and work towards expanding educational opportunities instead of restricting them."

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the $41.6 billion dollar budget on Wednesday. He proposed steady spending with an end to nearly $1 billion in corporate tax breaks.

"We live in a challenging moment in so many ways, not the least of which are the choices that must be made to balance our state budget in the midst of economic hardship for everyday Illinoisans," Pritzker said.

With the proposed cut to tax credits, the fate of the Invest in Kids Act is an uneasy feeling for Nick Blackburn, the principal at St. Patrick's School in Decatur.

"It really affects more the kids than the school," said Blackburn.

St. Patrick's has an enrollment of 170 students. Of those, 51 of them are Invest in Kids scholarship recipients. Blackburn explained these can be 50-100 percent funded.

"I get notes once a week from students who have been through this program saying what a blessing it has been to come to St. Patrick School," Blackburn said.

The Catholic Conference of Illinois said tens of thousands of students have had the opportunity to receive a private education through the Invest in Kids Act. They are working with lawmakers to make sure the tax credit doesn't get cut.

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