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updated: 1/9/2012 5:02 PM

2 Lake County Republicans vow to stop local scholarships

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  • State Rep. Ed Sullivan

      State Rep. Ed Sullivan

  • State Rep. Kent Gaffney

      State Rep. Kent Gaffney

 
 

Two state lawmakers from Lake County announced Monday they'll no longer participate in a controversial legislative scholarship program.

In a joint news release, Republicans Ed Sullivan of Mundelein and Kent Gaffney of Lake Barrington called the program "an unfunded mandate" that adds strain to Illinois' already stressed finances.

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"We need to look at every option available to save taxpayer dollars," Gaffney said in the release. "This (is) not the time to be awarding legislative scholarships."

The program allows lawmakers to award up to eight scholarships, which cover tuition at state universities, to residents of their districts. The scholarships can be worth thousands of dollars a piece.

Sullivan long has participated in the program. Gaffney, who was appointed to fill a vacancy last year, has not participated in the effort.

The scholarships have long been a source of ethical and sometimes legal concern.

Many have gone to students with ties to campaign contributors.

Last year, prosecutors subpoenaed records regarding scholarships that former lawmaker Robert Molaro, a Chicago Democrat, gave to a supporter's children who might not have lived in his district.

Sullivan denied any such favoritism in his prior scholarship awards. Applications are considered by a committee that did not know the students' names, sexes or hometowns, he insisted.

"I've always had a blind process," he said in an interview.

Last fall, Gov. Pat Quinn pushed lawmakers to adopt legislation that would kill the program, but none was approved.

Sullivan has pledged to support such a proposal.

• Daily Herald wire services contributed to this report.

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