CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn flexed his veto power Wednesday by rewriting legislation in a way that would end the long practice of letting Illinois legislators hand out scholarships to state universities.
Quinn’s amendatory veto compels lawmakers to make a choice about whether to give up the perk as federal prosecutors investigate scholarships awarded by one of their former colleagues.
Because the scholarships technically are tuition waivers, state universities wind up eating the cost of educating the people who receive them. The waivers sometimes have gone to the children of legislators’ friends and political allies.
“You can’t put perfume on a skunk,” Quinn said at a news conference in Chicago. “This system has had too many problems for too many years and it’s time to abolish the legislative scholarship program.”
Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records regarding scholarships that former state legislator Robert Molaro granted to a supporter’s children, according to copies of two subpoenas obtained by The Associated Press. 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.