School vouchers, 'Art of the Deal' on conservative spokeswoman's wish list for Trump's first 100 days
A communication director for a Chicago-based conservative political group has a wish list that includes scholarships for local kids, which she'd like to see in Illinois during President Donald Trump's first 100 days in office.
"I've got three big things," Illinois Opportunity Project Director of Communication Kathleen Murphy said during a recent edition of the radio talk show "Illinois Rising."
Murphy said the first item on her wish list, scholarships for local kids, came from an editorial published in the Chicago Tribune in December. That editorial, written by Illinois Policy Institute Vice President of Communications Diana Rickert, told Trump and Congress what could be done for Illinois in 2017.
"Illinois Rising" is a presentation of the Illinois Policy Institute.
Rickert's list also included allowing states to file for bankruptcy and the appointment of a U.S. Supreme Court justice who would end forced union representation in government jobs.
While Rickert's list was for 2017, Murphy said she'd be content if her list could be done within the new administration's first 100 days.
On top of that list is scholarship money funneled directly to students, rather than to schools.
"The federal government sends money to Illinois every year to be used for education," Murphy said, reading from Rickert's editorial. "That money belongs to students."
Citing the editorial, Murphy said that between federal and state funds, state vouchers would amount to thousands of dollars per student that could be used for tuition in nonpublic schools. That could be done without waiting for the Illinois General Assembly to act, she said.
"That would give families some control and it would force these school districts to be worthy of these families' investments in them," Murphy said. "Make them step up and compete for the kids."
It's important not to wait for the General Assembly to act, Murphy added.
"The state could do more but legislators don't seem to have an appetite for it," she said.
State Sens. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) and Michael Connelly (R-Naperville) co-sponsored SB0113, the School Choice Act, in 2015, which would have provided a school choice voucher program. The legislation spent time in the Senate Education Subcommittee on Special Issues and did pass a third reading, but it never garnered much support.
The bill was listed as "session sine die," or adjourned without an assignment, on the last day of the 99th General Assembly on Jan. 10, which means the legislation likely has died.
Illinois State House Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) introduced similar legislation earlier this month.
Trump should end the flow of money that has been coming in during the last administration that has only propped up politics as usual in Illinois, Kathleen Murphy said.
"He should end that until Chicago and Illinois get some structural reforms in place and get their spending priorities in order," she said. "And then insist on that before any more federal grants come to the city or the state."
The third item on Murphy's referred to Trump's 1987 book written with journalist Tony Schwartz.
"The last thing he can do is he can send certain Republican leaders in the Illinois Senate a copy of 'The Art of the Deal,' so they don't negotiate budget deals with $5 billion in tax increases," she said.