Thanks to the new state budget, Chicago families that send children to private school will see an additional $250 deducted from their state taxes each year. Together with a new $250 tax credit for teachers, this proposal was part of a package of measures supported by Agudath Israel of Illinois.

As a member of the Illinois Kids Campaign coalition, Agudath Israel of Illinois (AIOI) was a part of the coalition that lobbied this year for a package of three tax credits related to education. The proposals included an increase to the existing education expense tax credit, a new teacher tax credit, and a scholarship tax credit.

The existing education expense tax credit allowed all Illinois parents, regardless of income, to receive a tax credit of up to $500 for out-of-pocket education-related expenses including tuition. Together with the Catholic Conference, Agudath Israel played an integral role in the original passage of the tax credit, and has been pushing for an increase for many years. During Agudath Israel’s mission to Springfield in March, the delegation encouraged lawmakers to increase the credit to $750.In the end, the revenue bill did just that. With over 1,000 families sending their children to Orthodox Jewish schools in Illinois, the $250 increase will save community members more than a quarter of a million dollars each year.

The other tax credit that will take effect for this year, was a $250 reimbursement for teachers for out-of-pocket expenses. With more than 500 teachers working at Orthodox Jewish schools, this will generate approximately $125,000 for our hardworking, dedicated teachers.

While the coalition was successful in securing legislative support for two of the proposals, coalition members are still diligently working on the most important part of the package, a scholarship tax credit program. Similar to those existing in 17 states, a scholarship program would award dollar-for-dollar tax credits for donations to a fund that would then grant scholarships to eligible students to attend the private school of their choice.

While the passage scholarship tax credit program, which AIOI continues to fight for, would be far more significant, the education expense credit directly benefits every family that sends a child to private school. AIOI is grateful to the Illinois lawmakers that included this tax credit increase in the revenue bill, and to the Illinois Kids Campaign for spearheading the effort.