Gov. Pat Quinn
Updated: October 3, 2011 12:31PM
CHICAGO — Gov. Pat Quinn used his veto power Wednesday to rewrite legislation so that it would end the long practice of letting Illinois legislators hand out scholarships to state universities, a move that presents the lawmakers with a stark choice on whether to give up the perk.
The scholarships are technically tuition waivers, so state universities wind up eating the cost of educating the people who are granted scholarships by legislators. The waivers sometimes go to the children of legislators’ friends and political allies.
“It is past time for it to come to an end,” Quinn said in his veto message.
Federal prosecutors are investigating scholarships granted by former legislator Robert Molaro. He awarded them to the children of a campaign donor, although it’s not clear that they lived in his district, one of the requirements for receiving the scholarships.
Lawmakers have placed restrictions on the scholarships over the years, but have rejected calls for ending the program.
Quinn’s amendatory veto doesn’t force lawmakers to take action, but it does create a high-profile decision for them to make. They can do nothing and let the bill die, they can override Quinn’s changes and keep the scholarships or they can accept the veto and end the scholarship program.
Quinn said in his veto message that lawmakers should voluntarily stop awarding scholarships until they are barred by law. He also noted that the state’s Monetary Award Program lacks money to cover everyone who qualifies.