BGA opposes bid to revive legislative scholarships
The Better Government Association (BGA) recently posted a scathing article regarding proposed legislation introduced by state Rep. Thaddeus Jones' (D-Calumet City) to revive a controversial tuition waiver program.
House Bill 279 would provide six tuition waivers per legislator to dole out to students in their districts. Four of those waivers would only extend for one year. The bill does not fund the waivers, leaving the universities to absorb the cost, the BGA said in the Feb. 15 posting.
The BGA pointed out that Illinois has a program in place that assists low-income students – the Monetary Award Program (MAP) that provides up to $4,720 to full-time students, based on need. The program has suffered from a lack of funding since the state's budget impasse began in 2015, and currently has no funding, since the stop-gap budget has expired and the legislature has not passed a new budget, the article said. With the overall lack of funding for higher education, the colleges and universities have shrinking revenues. They cannot continue to cover the gap for MAP students.
The previous "legislative scholarship" program was ended by then-Gov. Pat Quinn after the BGA revealed numerous rule violations, the posting said. Legislators had given tuition waivers to students living outside of their districts as well as to students whose parents were politically connected and those who made campaign contributions to the lawmakers, the BGA said in the article.
The BGA said it supports full funding for the MAP grants that benefit low-income students. The program helped 128,000 students in 2015. The BGA said it is against HB 279, which revives a problematic program without assisting the large number of students in need.
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