SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois House on Friday sent Gov. Pat Quinn a measure that would put new restrictions on a controversial legislative tuition waiver program but not kill the often-criticized practice.
Under the measure, students would be ineligible to receive one of the scholarships state lawmakers hand out each year if an immediate family member made a political contribution in the previous five years.
They would also have to forfeit the waiver and repay the university for tuition costs if a family member contributes within five years after the award is given.
Media reports have shown lawmakers using the scholarships as political favors for campaign contributors and demonstrated the funding gap it creates for state universities.
The House voted to end the program last week, but that proposal seemed to be dead in the Senate, where the reform package originated.
Sponsoring state Rep. Robert Flider said the compromises were better than allowing the program to continue untouched.
State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, who sponsored legislation to end the program this year, said he voted in favor of the reforms even though they are “baby steps” to solving a bigger problem.
“They keep saying how valuable it is because kids can go to college,” Franks said. “OK, but that’s not good enough. There are a lot of things we can do to help kids go to college. People like the power to be able to give it to students.”