The Illinois Tuition Tax Credit: Who Gets the Credit? Who Pays the Consequences?

Endnotes

1. The other five states and the year in which their original tax-credit or deduction statute was enacted are: Minnesota (1955), Iowa (1987), Arizona (1997), Pennsylvania (2001) and Florida (2001). For more information, see: “Vouchers, Tax Credits, and Tax Deductions,” Policy Brief: Vouchers, Education Commission of the States, updated February 2003, pp. 1-5.

2. No state has ever enacted a tuition tax credit program through a ballot initiative. Since 1981, three states and the District of Columbia have given their voters the opportunity to approve tuition tax credits through a ballot initiative. In each of these cases, voters soundly rejected tuition tax credits. This includes defeats in the more conservative and Republican states of Utah and Colorado.

3. Amy Fagan, “Republicans Find Voucher Alternative,” Washington Times, May 28, 2002, available at http://www.childrenfirstamerica.org/DailyNews/02May/058024.htm; Christine Hall, “State Legislators Endorse School Tax Credits,” CNSNews.com, August 3, 2001. (In the article, Andy LeFevre, a spokesperson for the ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council noted the similarities between the two approaches. In the case of tuition tax credits, LeFevre said, “the end goal is the same as a voucher; it’s just a different way to come about it.”)

4. George Archibald, “Gov. Bush Gives Vouchers ‘A’ Grade in Fixing Schools,” Washington Times, Feb. 25, 2003.

5. Kimberly Miller, “Students Rely on Donations More Than School Vouchers,” Palm Beach Post, Dec. 26, 2002.

6. For example, Lisa Graham Keegan, Arizona’s former superintendent of public instruction, hailed the state’s 1997 tuition tax credit law for being “responsive to the needs of disadvantaged students and their families.” See: Lisa Graham Keegan, Tuition Tax Credits, Education Leaders Council, available at: http://www.educationleaders.org/issues/010401keegan.htm.

7. From the Motion of Intervenors/Defendants to Dismiss, Toney v. Bower et al, Circuit Court for the Seventh Judicial Circuit, Sangamon County, Illinois, Case No. 99 MR 0413.

8. Lon Grahnke, “Tuition Tax Credit Break Challenged: Suit Argues It Violates Constitution,” Chicago Sun-Times, November 5, 1999.

9. Elliot Mincberg, Arohi Pathak and Mike Wessely, Misplaying the Angles: A Closer Look at the Illinois Tuition Tax Credit Law, People For the American Way Foundation, September 24, 2002, available at: http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=5177.

10. McGee’s quote is from: “Tuition Tax Credits Mainly Benefit the State’s Affluent,” School Board News Bulletin, November 2002, Illinois Association of School Boards, available at: http://www.iasb.com/files/nb1102.htm#dist.

11. Tax year 2000 data received from the Illinois Department of Research and Revenue, June 2002; Tax year 2001 data received from the Illinois Department of Research and Revenue, February 2003.

12. ibid.

13. Tax year 2001 data received from the Illinois Department of Research and Revenue, February 2003.

14. The use of the term “poor families” refers specifically to those Illinois residents who reported income of $20,000 or less on their state income tax return. This income bracket is used as a benchmark since it is only slightly higher than the federal poverty line for a family of four: $18,100. For more information, see poverty guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at: http://www.aoa.gov/network/2002povguidetable.html; Tax year 2001 data received from the Illinois Department of Research and Revenue, February 2003.

15. The number of taxpayers in this upper income level who claimed the tax credit in 2001 increased by 12,536 over the previous tax year. The increase in the lowest income bracket was 1,261. See: Tax year 2001 data received from the Illinois Department of Research and Revenue, February 2003.

16. Tax year 2001 data received from the Illinois Department of Research and Revenue, February 2003.

17. ibid.

18. HB 0999, Illinois Tuition Tax Credit Legislation, available at http://www.legis.state.il.us/legisnet/legisnet91/hbgroups/hb/910HB0999LV.html, accessed July 2002.

19. ibid; “Tuition Tax Credits Must Be Stopped,” Tuition Tax Credit Fact Sheet, Illinois Federation of Teachers, 1998.

20. “Legislative Proposals for FY 2004,” Voices for Illinois Children, available at: http://www.voices4kids.org.

21. “Madigan Nixes Lincoln Tower, Farnsworth House Purchases,” a press release by the office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Feb. 6, 2003; “State Budget Director Outlines $4.8 Billion Deficit Facing Illinois,” a press release by the office of State Budget Director John Filan, Feb. 17, 2003.

22. Arohi Pathak, Mike Wessely and Elliot Mincberg, Misplaying the Angles: A Closer Look at the Illinois Tuition Tax Credit Law, People For the American Way Foundation, September 24, 2002, available at: http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=5177.

23. Illinois’ overall score of 42.7% ranks last of the 50 states, although its “overall grade for equity” was 57 and ranked 49th. See: “Quality Counts 2003: The Teacher Gap,” Education Week, January 2003, state-by-state rankings of resource equity; available at: http://www.edweek.org/sreports/qc03/reports/equity-t1.cfm.

24. One such group, Voices for Illinois Children, has urged the state to “[b]oost the funding formula’s ‘foundation’ level to $5,500 per pupil, from its current level of $4,560.” See: “Legislative Proposals for FY 2004,” from the Web site of Voices for Illinois Children, available at: http://www.voices4kids.org.

25. Sean Cavanagh, “Illinois Districts Using Red Ink to Pen Budgets,” Education Week, Nov. 6, 2002; available at: http://www.edweek.org/.

26. ibid.

27. “KSD 140 Scores Well On the Illinois Standard Achievement Test,” from the Web site of the Kirby School District 140 in Tinley Park, Ill., accessed February 2003 at: http://www.ksd140.org/kirbynews/news11.htm.

28. Mark Stricherz, “Illinois School Board OKs Plan for More State Testing,” Education Week, Nov. 1, 2000, available at “archives” at: http://www.edweek.org.

29. As the superintendent of one suburban Chicago public school district noted, the ISAT prompted “the school board and teachers [to make] a number of changes in the curriculum to fulfill the state's academic standard.” See: “Manhattan Students Perform Well on Tests,” The Herald News, Feb. 18, 2001.

30. Illinois data from: State Regulation of Private Schools, U.S. Department of Education, June 2000, available at: http://www.ed.gov/pubs/RegPrivSchl/illinois.html.

31. For more information on Illinois’ Open Meetings and Freedom of Information Acts, see the Chicago Headline Club, a Web site for journalists at: http://www.headlineclub.org/foiaill.html.

32. Illinois data from: State Regulation of Private Schools, U.S. Department of Education, June 2000, available at: http://www.ed.gov/pubs/RegPrivSchl/illinois.html.

33. “History of Failed Vouchers and Tax Credits,” People For the American Way, available at: http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/general/default.aspx?oid=2970.

34. Pat Kossan, “School Tax Credits Fail Poor,” The Arizona Republic, March 23, 2002.

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