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Lt. Gov. Simon to Legislators: Abolish political scholarships 

SPRINGFIELD – February 1, 2012. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon called on the General Assembly to abolish the legislative scholarship program that more than half of the state’s legislators are voluntarily abstaining from this year.

The action by Simon comes after the Better Government Association collected more than 600 signatures in an online petition drive to abolish the program. The BGA delivered the petitions to Simon’s office and other state leaders on Tuesday afternoon.

Simon said: “While legislative scholarships help a small number of students, the program’s abuse comes at an incredibly high cost in terms of trust in government and absorbed tuition at colleges and universities. We would do better by our schools and students if we strengthened the need-based Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants that help thousands of Illinois students across the state fulfill their dreams of higher education. By eliminating the legislative scholarship program, Illinois can take a meaningful step toward improving our ethical standards, while focusing our efforts on making college more affordable for all students.”

Nearly 100 of the 177 members of the General Assembly have now opted out of giving legislative scholarships this year. Sens. Dan Kotowski, Christine Radogno and Ron Sandack, as well as Reps. Fred Crespo, Paul Evans and Sandra Pihos have proposed legislation ending the political scholarship program as early as June 1, 2012.