GOP Lawmakers Push to End Legislative Scholarships

August 30, 2011

A trio of east central Illinois Republicans has renewed the call to end legislative scholarships in the state.

House members Jason Barickman, Chad Hays, and Chapin Rose point to a federal investigation involving some Chicago Democrats who have provided the scholarships. Hays said it has been some time since the scholarships served their original intent of helping young people from challenging backgrounds. The Catlin freshman lawmaker said it is time to gain back the public trust, through one act of integrity at a time.

"The notion that a legislative scholarship would be utilized as a perk to give out to somebody who is a large campaign contributor is something that is unconscionable, and something that I personally will not be associated with," Hays said. "I have not given scholarships this year, and I will not give them out going forward."

In a press conference Tuesday, Champaign House freshman Barickman noted that even the state's top Democrat wants to bring an end to the program.

"Gov. (Pat) Quinn has been talking about this issue since his budget address early in the year," he said. "I think if we could have a roll call vote on this bill with all the current public pressure out there, plus all the governor's presumed support for it, we might be able to put the votes together to get it to pass."

Hays said the program has come under so much scrutiny, that recipients themselves are being hounded about their relationships with lawmakers. He said the program now is too far off track to be saved. Rose said by not providing the scholarships, it should save the state about $14 million.

Legislation to abolish the program that was introduced last spring could could be revived this fall. It had the backing of all three Republicans and 13 additional Democrats, including Urbana Democrat Naomi Jakobsson.

Story source: WILL