A bill to eliminate the controversial legislative scholarship program passed the Illinois Senate and is very close to becoming law.

The Better Government Association’s policy unit has been advocating a complete dismantling of the scholarship program and had strongly recommended President John Cullerton call for a full Senate vote on a bill that will scuttle the troubled and clout-riddled legislative perk.

Forty-three Senators voted to end the program while five voted no and five members voted present.

The Senate sends the measure back to the House, which earlier had approved eliminating the program, to address some changes attached to the Senate bill.

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan has agreed to those changes, so it’s expected the bill will be approved and sent to Gov. Pat Quinn to be signed into law.

This year, Quinn has repeatedly stated that he favors total elimination of the scholarship program, which has been in place for nearly a century, and 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. In total, those scholarships cost taxpayers about $13 million a year.

The BGA and media outlets throughout the state have reported for years that this program is being misused and abused for political, not educational, purposes.