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WBEZ Updates

Chicago Mayor Opposed to Diverting Tax Money to Private Schools

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday he is opposed to any plan to divert public money to help pay for private school tuition, a plan state lawmakers had been discussing as part of negotiations to end political impasse over school funding.

The proposed $100 million tax credit scholarship program would allow individuals and corporations to donate to private school scholarship funds in exchange for a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit. Critics have slammed the plan as a voucher program because it diverts tax revenue, which might otherwise fund public schools, away from state coffers.

Before the idea became part of behind-the-scenes negotiations over how to release state money to public schools across the state, the mayor told Cardinal Blase Cupich in an April email that he was open to discussing the idea.

But on Monday, Emanuel said he does not support any kind of private school choice program funded with the help of public tax dollars.

“The answer is one answer the five different times I’ve been asked — I’m opposed to it,” Emanuel said.  

Emanuel’s children have attended private schools. That decision, the mayor said, should not be “subsidized” by the public.

WBEZ first reported on the state-level proposal earlier this month when reporters learned it had become part of negotiations aimed at ending the impasse over all school funding. The impasse threatens the delivery of nearly all state education money weeks before the start of a new school year.

The Illinois Senate has already voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the new education spending bill. The House is set to meet Wednesday to take up its own possible override.  

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