The Illinois General Assembly has adjourned for the year without taking action to extend scholarship programs for low-income students, nor to extend a key criminal statute to keep repeat gun offenders off the streets, according to State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Edwardsville).
“Once again, Democratic leaders refused to act to help low-income students pleading for help,” said Senator Plummer. “Thousands of students and their families visited the Capitol over the last few weeks, pleading with lawmakers for help. Unfortunately, Democratic leaders cared far more about pleasing special interest groups than helping students.”
The Invest in Kids Scholarship program was designed to encourage donations for scholarships by offering tax breaks to donors. The donations were used to fund scholarship programs that offered a lifeline to low-income students in failing school districts by giving them the opportunity to attend the school of their choice. Over 9,000 students are currently enrolled in the Invest in Kids program, including 241 in the 55th Senate District.
Without legislative action, the program will now shut down at the end of the year.
“It is a disgrace that Democratic leaders decided to leave these students, many of them their own constituents, without help,” said Plummer. “Now those students and their families will have to decide whether to yank their students out of schools where they are excelling in the middle of the school year, or to try to scrape together money they don’t have to keep them in school.”
Meanwhile, Democrats in both chambers played games over another law that is set to expire. House Bill 1440 would have extended an important criminal statute that increased penalties for repeat offenders convicted of gun crimes. The statute was the result of requests from law enforcement and was supported by the Attorney General.
“We have to give law enforcement the tools they need to keep violent criminals off of the streets and behind bars,” said Plummer. “Prosecutors across the state rely on this statute to keep us safe.”
Initially, Senate leadership included the statute in a bill that covered numerous other unrelated laws that were also set to expire. Before voting on that bill, however, the provision was removed and placed in House Bill 1440. While it passed the Senate, it was not called for a vote by Democratic leaders in the House, meaning that the statute will expire at the end of the year.
“What this means is that Democrats in the legislature decided to make sure that violent gun criminals and gang members are able get back on the streets faster,” said Plummer. “Illinois is less safe because they refused to act.”