CHICAGO – Key Illinois lawmakers are supporting the Better Government Association’s online petition — http://bit.ly/BGAlegscholpetition — to eliminate the legislative scholarship program. The program, which allows every lawmaker to grant two scholarships a year to a state-sponsored university is beyond reform and should be eliminated.
On Tuesday morning in Springfield, the BGA will deliver petition signatures to the following Illinois lawmakers and leaders:
- Governor Pat Quinn
- Lt. Governor Sheila Simon
- Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan
- House Minority Leader Tom Cross
- Senate President John J. Cullerton
- Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno
The BGA is encouraged that 94 members of the general assembly have voluntarily opted out of the legislative scholarship program, including the entire Republican Caucus lead by Senator Christine Radogno. Here are the names of lawmakers who have opted out:
With support from the Senate and House Leadership, a bill to eliminate legislative scholarships can pass and be ready for the Governor to sign by the end of February. There are currently five legislative bills already filed, sponsored by Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate. Here is a list of the current bills
In theory, the scholarships go to deserving students who have the brains to attend a state school, but don’t have the bucks to pay tuition. In reality, the program has been abused as a precious political perk gifted to lawmakers’ friends. There is little oversight or accountability.
Recent investigations by the Better Government Association and other media outlets found lawmakers abusing the program by doling out tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships to children or relatives of their friends, political allies and supporters. The latest example came last week when the BGA reported that State Rep. Robert Rita gave a scholarship to the daughter of Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale, a friend and political ally of Rep. Rita. Read the investigation here.
“The BGA recommends lawmakers dump the legislative scholarship program because it’s rotting from within, lacks accountability and is not based on merit but clout,” says Emily Miller, BGA Policy and Government Affairs Coordinator. Read more from Emily Miller on the BGA’s Think Tank blog.
The BGA is urging its members to sign the petition and contact their lawmakers to urge them to eliminate the legislative scholarship program.
Media Contact: Mary Frances O’Connor
Better Government Association
Chicago, IL 60606
*To add your name to the list of lawmakers who have voluntarily opted out of the legislative scholarship program, please contact Joe from the BGA at JMalinowski@bettergov.org