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Quinn to sign bill abolishing legislative scholarships Wednesday

Updated: July 10, 2012 8:16PM

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn will sign legislation Wednesday to abolish the scandal-tainted, century-old program that allowed lawmakers to dole out free college rides to the children of the politically connected.

The governor, who has lobbied to end the program since 2009, intends to put his signature on the legislation during a bill-signing ceremony that was announced Tuesday afternoon.

“In combination with news reports continuing to shed the light on the abuses taking place and the governor’s continued advocacy in pushing this forward and also shining a light on this issue, reform and sunshine will come,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said.

“This is a good day for taxpayers, a good day for reform and a good day for the good-government advocates who pushed for this,” she said. “The governor is proud of all these collective efforts.”

For a century, Illinois lawmakers have given themselves the perk of being able to hand out college scholarships to anyone they choose.

They get to give out two four-year tuition waivers every year, often parceling them out in yearly pieces so they can give them to as many as eight students per legislator annually.

The program has been under fire for years but survived until a series of reports by the Chicago Sun-Times and the Better Government Association since last summer laid bare how some legislators awarded waivers to the children of campaign donors, political allies and even a reputed mobster and ignored a law requiring that recipients live in the legislator’s district.

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