Local lawmakers applauded Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday for signing off on legislation to abolish the state's scandal-ridden legislative scholarship program.
The adoption of House Bill 3810 ends 100 years of legislators being able to award deserving or undeserving college students with annual scholarships to state universities, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
The controversial program came under fire in recent years after legislators began misusing it, awarding scholarships to children of legislative employees and campaign donors instead of students in need of financial aid.
“There is no place for political scholarships in Illinois,” Quinn told NBC Chicago. “I believe in the power of education, the importance of ethics and integrity, and the idea that you can get ahead in life with a little hard work."
Under the new law, members of the Illinois General Assembly can no longer award scholarships after Sept. 1. Students nominated for the program for the 2012-13 school year will still receive the scholarships, according to NBC Chicago.
Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-), one of the bill's co-sponsors, released a statement Wednesday applauding Quinn for abolishing the program.
“At a time when the state is looking to cut costs and show we are serious about cracking down on impropriety, eliminating this oft-abused program was the obvious next step,” said Radogno, who voluntarily opted out of the legislative scholarship program years ago.
House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) also applauded the legislation.
“Over the last couple of years, the Illinois House has voted to eliminate the program. Finally, the bill has made it through the Senate and onto the Governor’s desk for signature today,” Cross said in statement. “Because of the abuses of some lawmakers, the program became tainted.”
According to Cross, the new law will also create the Tuition and Fee Waiver Task Force to conduct a thorough review and evaluation of the tuition and fee waiver programs offered by public institutions of higher education. The task force will be required to submit a report of its findings by April 15, 2013.