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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — The Better Government Association doesn’t trust lawmakers to reform the state’s legislative scholarship program, so it is calling for the abolition of the program.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Alex Degman reports, under the program, each lawmaker is allowed by law to award up to eight one-year scholarships to a state university every year to students in their districts. But more and more lawmakers are deciding not to award them any longer due to increasing scrutiny of the program.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Alex Degman reports
“Between 2004 and 2009, 83 scholarships were given out to politically connected kids. As a result, our tax dollars, our hard-earned tax dollars, are being spent on political rewards,” says Andy Shaw, executive director of the Better Government Association.
Shaw says deserving students also receive scholarships, but it would be difficult to police the program across the board.
Last year, lawmakers tried reforming the program through legislation. But Gov. Pat Quinn refused to sign the bill, and instead tried to abolish the program with an amendatory veto.
In so doing, the governor ended up running against Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, who believed Quinn was violating the Illinois Constitution. Madigan himself has voted previously to do away with the program.
A new measure to do away with the program, H.B. 3901, is now pending in committee in the state House of Representatives.