Thursday, May 3, 2012

McGuire Helps Kill Controversial Illinois Legislative Scholarship Program

Springfield, IL- State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) today joined his colleagues in the Illinois Senate and voted to end the controversial legislative scholarship program.  McGuire, in office for two months, chose not to participate in the scandal-ridden program and has vocally supported its abolition.

"Programs that aren't on the up-and-up have to go," McGuire said.  "Getting rid of legislative scholarships is an important step toward restoring confidence in Illinois government."

The Legislative Tuition Waiver Program allows each member of the General Assembly to send residents of their districts to Illinois' public universities for only the cost of room and board.   Although often referred to as a scholarship program, state universities actually receive no extra funding to cover the cost of students who receive these waivers.

The tuition waiver program has faced criticism over the past several years.  Legislators have allegedly awarded scholarships to elected officials' family members, personal friends, campaign donors, and even students who reside outside of their districts.

"The State of Illinois has better ways to spend its money than on legislative scholarships, and the General Assembly has more important issues to address," McGuire said.  "We must work on making higher education affordable for everyone.  We also must make sure students graduate and are ready to work and make our state great again."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

McGuire Pleased with IYC Joliet Decision

Springfield- A bipartisan, bicameral legislative commission this morning refused to endorse Governor Pat Quinn's proposal to close Illinois Youth Center (IYC) Joliet, the state's only maximum security facility for young men.

"The commission agreed with us that closing the state's only maximum security youth center doesn't make sense when it comes to public safety or savings," said State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet).  "This is a victory for the Joliet area.  IYC employs 219 people, indirectly supports almost 100 more jobs, contributes more than $30 million to our local economy, and provides youthful offenders one last chance to go straight."

The legislative panel-the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CoGFA)-was created to provide the General Assembly with a reliable, accurate source of budget-related information.  Analyzing governors' proposals to close state facilities is one of CoGFA's most important duties.  Though CoGFA's recommendations are not legally binding, no governor has ever closed a state facility over CoGFA's objections.

"We must make some tough budget decisions this year, and I respect the governor's good intentions," McGuire continued, "but closing IYC Joliet would result in mixing older, more dangerous youth with younger, more vulnerable youth, increasing safety risks to both residents and staff. It also threatens to thwart the younger offenders' rehabilitation as they are diverted from corrective behaviors by the older offenders."

IYC Joliet's final fate won't be decided until after the state passes a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.  McGuire vowed to work with legislators and the governor's office to guarantee funding.

"I urge the governor to heed the voices of elected officials, law enforcement, and religious leaders and to abide by today's bipartisan decision," McGuire said.  "No other state facility has the skilled staff IYC does, nor the location and recent capital improvements."