State Rep. Kent Gaffney issued the following news release on Wednesday:
LAKE BARRINGTON – State Rep. Kent Gaffney (R-Lake Barrington) is pleased Gov. Pat Quinn today signed into law House Bill 3810, effectively ending the legislative scholarship program.
The General Assembly Scholarship Program was an unfunded mandate that allowed legislators to award up to eight scholarships each year covering tuition at State universities.
“In addition to the numerous ethical questions that have been raised over the awarding of these scholarships, this program is an unfunded mandate that our public universities can’t no longer afford,” said Gaffney. “While many deserving students have gone to school because of these scholarships; the unfortunate realities of our budget situation made their elimination common sense.”
In 2011, 1,327 tuition waivers were awarded in Illinois, costing the State $13,508,800. This $13.5 million is an unfunded mandate on State universities, where the cost is then passed on to other students paying tuition. Tuition rates in Illinois have been skyrocketing the past few years. Since 2003, the University of Illinois’ tuition rate has gone up 53%, averaging $14,414 a year.
In January of this year, Rep. Gaffney pro-actively announced that his office would not be awarding the scholarships. His action, along with multiple other lawmakers opting out of the program helped build the momentum to pass this necessary legislation.