May 22, 2012 01:28 PM
Illinois House Votes to End Controversial Legislative Scholarships
Bill Heads to Governor, Who Favors Killing the Longtime Perk
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The state’s scandal-tainted legislative scholarship program is nearing extinction with the Illinois General Assembly’s passage of a bill to end the long-troubled program.
The BGA’s policy unit has been advocating a complete dismantling of the scholarship program, calling on lawmakers to discontinue the taxpayer-supported legislative perk that costs nearly $13 million annually. Gov. Pat Quinn has said he will sign the bill into law.
"The Better Government Association appreciates the fact that Illinois lawmakers have finally realized this well-meaning program has been scammed and scandalized beyond redemption, and it makes more sense to kill it than to set up a costly bureaucracy to police it," said Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the BGA. "We support scholarships for needy and deserving young people based on credentials, not clout, and that is best left up to educators, not politicians."
The House voted 79-32 this week to end the waiver program. That vote follows earlier passage of a similar bill by the Illinois Senate. The scholarship program, which has been in place for nearly a century, allows every member of the Illinois General Assembly to give two tuition-free scholarships a year to major state universities to constituents in their district.
The BGA, Chicago Sun-Times and other media outlets throughout the state have reported for years that this program is being misused and abused for political, not educational, purposes.