May 12, 2010
On May 11, Governor Quinn vetoed Senate Bill 0365, a bill that would have limited but not eliminated legislative scholarships. His veto message states that he cannot condone a program that provides student assistance regardless of need or merit but relies instead on the favor of a legislator. Governor Quinn recommends that the General Assembly pass House Bill 4685, which would eliminate the legislative scholarship program effective June 1, 2010.
Each of the 177 members of the Illinois General Assembly is currently entitled to grant the equivalent of two four-year college tuition waivers each year. The recipients must live in the legislator’s district and must use the waiver for undergraduate or graduate tuition at a state university, which is not reimbursed by the State for the cost the waiver. The Illinois Board of Higher Education reports that the waivers cost $13.5 million in fiscal year 2009 (see Table 1 of the IBHE Annual Report to the General Assembly).
The Civic Federation has long recommended that legislative scholarships be eliminated and we support the Governor’s veto. The House has already passed the legislation that would eliminate the scholarships entirely and we urge the Senate to do so as well. Scholarships should be granted through need and merit-based programs, not by state legislators as favors to constituents.