SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — With the start of a new calendar year comes a familiar call from dozens of state lawmakers – abolish the legislative scholarship program.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Alex Degman reports, state Rep. Jason Barickman (R-Champaign) is one of many co-sponsoring a measure to get rid of the program, which allows all state lawmakers to award up to eight scholarships per year. Barickman says the program is expensive, and the money saved could be put to better use.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Alex Degman reports
“If what we’re doing in the legislature is prioritizing our state spending, it would seem to make more sense to push more dollars towards MAP grants, which is a regulated process for providing financial aid to students,” Barickman said.
There are several ongoing investigations about illegal distribution of the scholarships, and Barickman says it would be easiest to do away with the program. He says such a move could save up to $15 million annually.
The measure, H.B. 3901, is currently in a rules committee.
Last year, Gov. Pat Quinn sought to abolish the program with an amendatory veto, but 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.
The program has faced criticism for many years, as lawmakers dole out tuition waivers to friends, family members and students with connections to campaign contributors. Lawmakers are only technically allowed to grant tuition waivers in their own districts.