House lawmakers accept school funding bill after initial failure

UPDATE: MONDAY, AUG. 28, 2017  7:15 P.M.

WSIL — A new school funding bill, which included a tax credit for people who donate to private school scholarships, has passed in the House with 73 votes.

The same bill failed earlier this evening, but was called for a vote again after lawmakers failed to override the governor’s veto on the original school funding bill, SB1.

ORIGINAL STORY: MONDAY, AUG. 28, 2017  6:30 P.M.

WSIL — Illinois House lawmakers shot down a bill to overhaul the state’s school funding formula Monday. They also failed to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1.

The two bills were similar, but SB 1947 included some added provisions.

Several lawmakers on both sides of the aisle voted against it for various reasons: some didn’t like the amount of money going to Chicago public schools and others didn’t like the tax credit for people who donate money to private school scholarships.

That tax credit could have helped private schools like the Carbondale New School.

Director Carla Watts said she doesn’t want to see public money used for private schools directly, but she supports help for parents in paying for education.

“I think it’s just another tax credit for charitable giving,” Watts said. “I think it would be a good process. It would certainly help the private schools out.”

Watts said the tax credit for scholarships would help enrollment at the New School, which took a hit during state funding problems at SIU.

“We have a lot less students than we normally have,” Watts said. “I’d say about half the students that we usually have. It’s been going down since they’ve cut the budget to SIU.”

The tax credit would have repaid up to 75 percent of donations to private school scholarships for low-income students.

As far as southern Illinois lawmakers go, only Rep. Brandon Phelps (R-Harrisburg) voted for the bill. Reps. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro), Dave Severin (R-Benton) and Jerry Costello II (D-Smithton) all voted against it.

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