Quinn to abolish controversial scholarship program

Program let lawmakers waive tuition for students outside their districts.

May 22, 2012

(AP/file)

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said Monday that he intends to sign a law abolishing a controversial scholarship program that allowed state legislators the ability to grant tuition waivers to students in their districts.

“Today is a good day for deserving students in financial need, and a good day for the taxpayers of Illinois," the governor said in a statement.

The program was a target for critics of government corruption after the Chicago Sun-Times and the Better Government Association profiled cases where lawmakers awarded waivers to students living outside their legislative districts. Their investigation revealed that children of campaign donors and political allies were sometimes recipients.

“There is no place for a political scholarship program in Illinois," Quinn said. "Scholarships, paid for by Illinois taxpayers – should be awarded only to those with merit who are in true financial need. Abolishing this program is the right thing to do."

In a statement released Tuesday, Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) said the estimates given by state agencies show that educating these students costs universities $12 to 13 million dollars per year, yet the program provides no funding.

“Our state universities face the same budget pressures as other state entities and it is unfair to continue this unfunded mandate as tuition prices skyrocket,” said Franks.