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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – The program allowing state lawmakers to give free tuition to students – who are supposed to live in the lawmakers’ respective districts – is a step closer to the junk pile, winning approval Thursday in an Illinois House committee.
Senate leaders had long opposed a repeal, saying the program granted important opportunities to young people who otherwise could not attend college. Investigations revealed, though, that some of the people who benefited were children of donors or other political insiders, as well as people who did not live in their districts — in violation of the rules of the program.
The Senate finally voted to end the controversial program on May 3, sending the matter to the House, which has voted repeatedly in the past to end the program.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports
The measure which finally came from the Senate includes a provision for a task force to study all tuition waivers, including those for children of faculty and staff at state universities. Virtually none of those discounts have generated the controversy the legislative program has.
“I have no problems with the task force,” said the House sponsor, State Rep. Fred Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates). “But to imply that they’re all the same … is like saying a donkey and an elephant are the same because they have four legs and a tail. They’re two different animals.”
The proposal was approved by the House State Government Administration Committee on Thursday, sending it to the full House for a vote.
If approved by the House, as expected, the measure to eliminate the legislative scholarship program would go to Gov. Pat Quinn, who supports ending the program.