The program allowing state lawmakers to give free tuition to students – who are supposed to live in the lawmakers’ respective districts – is a step closer to the junk pile, winning approval Thursday in an Illinois House committee. Senate leaders have long opposed a repeal, saying the program granted important opportunities to young people who otherwise could not attend college. Investigations revealed, though, that some of the people who benefited were children of donors or other political insiders, as well as people who did not live in their districts.
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The bill which finally came from the Senate includes a provision for a task force to study all tuition waivers, such as those for children of faculty and staff at state universities. Virtually none of those discounts have generated the controversy the legislative program has. “I have no problems with the task force,” said the House sponsor, State Rep. Fred Crespo (D-Hoffman Estates), “but to imply that they’re all the same … is like saying a donkey and an elephant are the same because they have four legs and a tail. They’re two different animals.” HB 3810 has passed the House State Government Administration Committee.