CHICAGO
10/13/2011 03:25 pm ET Updated Dec 13, 2011

Michael Madigan To Block Quinn's Attempt To End Controversial Legislative Scholarship Program

Though Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has his eye set on dismantling the state's abuse-ridden legislative scholarship program, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) indicated this week that he will defend the program and block Quinn's plan.

A spokesman for Madigan's office claims that Quinn's move to rewrite legislation previously passed through the General Assembly to prevent state lawmakers from granting tuition waivers to family relatives does not pass constitutional muster. The governor, Madigan's office claims, circumvented the legislative body in altering the bill, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

"It's not in compliance with the constitution as it relates to the use of the amendatory veto. That’s very clear," Madigan spokesman Steve Brown told the Sun-Times.

Brooke Anderson, a spokeswoman for Quinn's office, counters that the governor still "feels strongly that the political scholarship program is in disgrace," according to the Chicago Tribune. Anderson claims that the governor was right to take the step to eliminate the program altogether.

"It's past time to abolish the political scholarships, which are ripe for abuse," Anderson continued.

And it appears that the governor will not be backing down on the issue any time soon. The Tribune's Monique Garcia tweeted Thursday afternoon that, despite Madigan's claim that he will not allow lawmakers to vote on the governor's amendatory veto to the bill, Quinn "says he'll ask Speaker Michael Madigan to carry a bill eliminating the legislative scholarship program during veto session."

According to a separate AP story, Quinn was disappointed by Madigan's position on the program, particularly as the House Speaker has previously voted in support of ending the program.

State Rep. Robert Pritchard (R-Hinckley), who sponsored the original bill that Quinn amended, was also disappointed by Madigan's questioning of the constitutionality of Quinn's rewrite.

"The speaker has unprecedented authority. That’s all I’ll say on this," Pritchard told the Sun-Times.

In August, it was announced that federal investigators were probing of a former legislator -- State Rep. Robert Molaro -- who allegedly used the program to give scholarships to four children of a major campaign donor, Phil Bruno. The "scholarships" are basically vouchers allowing those who receive them to attend any state university tuition-free.

A spokesperson for Senate President John Cullerton (D) indicated to Capitol Fax this summer that he, too, opposed the program being disbanded and favored reforms aimed at instances of abuse instead.