Senator Dave Koehler praised his colleagues in the Illinois House for voting to pass legislation cutting lawmakers’ pay and ending the sometimes-controversial Legislative Scholarship program.  Koehler opted out of the program earlier this year, frustrated that attempts to reform it had failed and concerned that the state would be better off focusing its financial aid efforts on need-based programs like MAP (Monetary Award Program) grants.

“I’m pleased to see such broad, bipartisan consensus on issues like cutting lawmakers’ pay and eliminating General Assembly Scholarships,” Koehler said.  “I think it’s a good sign that we can work together to resolve major issues.”

The first measure (House Bill 3188) requires lawmakers to work without pay for 12 days next year, costing each member of the Illinois House and Senate more than $3,000.   It also rejects a cost of living adjustment for the governor and other statewide officials, state agency directors, legislators, and members of boards and commissions.

The second (House Bill 3810) eliminates the decades-old tuition waiver program that allowed members of the General Assembly to send local students to public colleges on the universities’ dime.  The program has been broadly criticized because a small number of legislators have allegedly abused it.

“I encourage the governor to sign this legislation quickly,” Koehler said.  “Cutting our own pay and eliminating legislative tuition waivers were easy decisions compared to the hard choices we’re going to have to make over the next week and a half, but they’re a good symbolic first step forward.”