Illinois lawmakers are losing a century-old political perquisite -- the ability to award college scholarships. Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation this morning to end the practice after one last round of awards this summer.
"Instead of scholarships going to those who truly deserve them and who were qualified for scholarships to go to college,” the governor said, “too often the program was abused in a political way."
The "scholarships" are actually tuition waivers to the state’s public universities, meaning universities wind up footing the bill for educating the students but not getting any payment.
Some lawmakers insist the waivers ensure deserving students can attend college.
Over the years, legislators have given waivers to the children of friends, campaign donors and political allies.
The program has one basic rule. Legislators must give the waivers to students living in their district. But even that rule has been broken many times.