Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Suspicious Scholarships

On Monday, the Capital ran a piece describing one of the less well known practices conducted by some Delegates and Senators. Each year, each Senator is provide with approximately $138,000 and each Delegate receives about $35,000 to dole out as "legislative scholarships." The total amount allocated to the programs for FY08 is $11.4 million.

Why Senators or Delegates are uniquely qualified to determine who is eligible for need-based aid is an important question (particularly given that the State already has institutions set up for precisely this purpose). More important, to my mind, is the question raised by Common Cause: Aren't financial gifts, given with no oversight, extremely susceptible to abuse?

Several proposals are on the table, and both Republicans and Democrats are scrambling to retain vestiges of the program (although other Republicans and Democrats are very uneasy with the program). My suggestion is, abolish the programs and divert the funds to the Maryland Higher Education Commission to distribute as scholarships. Certainly, there's no way Senator Jennie Forehand's (D - Montgomery) bill to "lift the $2,000 cap on awards and allow senators to pay the annual undergraduate tuition and fees for a full-time student at the University of Maryland College Park" should be allowed to pass.

I encourage you to check out the list below and look for familiar names. There are a number that raise red flags for me, including children living in exclusive, gated communities and the children of lobbyists making six figures (or more).

Scholarship recipients from Districts 21, 30, 31, and 32

Local Delegates and Senators who opt out:

  • Senator John Astle (D) (Did not opt out until '08).
  • Del. Virginia Clagett (D)

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