Alexi Giannoulias buys SUV with funds from Bright Start College Savings Program

How does purchasing a $26,000 Black 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid SUV with money taken from Bright Start, an Illinois-based college savings fund intended to help less fortunate students pay for higher education, benefit students?

It’s a question that Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias answered by supporting his decision to purchase a hybrid SUV using funds from the dwindling program, which lost $85 million last year.

Giannoulias claimed to the Chicago Sun-Times that the vehicle purchased will be driven events promoting the college savings plan, and that the truck will ultimately save gas money by virtue of it being a hybrid.

Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias today defended using proceeds from a troubled college savings plan to purchase a $26,000 hybrid SUV, saying it's used by staff to promote the program and will actually save money in the long run.

Giannoulias said the black 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid was purchased to replace a 10-year-old vehicle so Bright Start staff have a way to travel the state and sign families up for the program, which lost $85 million last year. The SUV is also used to promote other programs besides the college savings plan, the Chicago Tribune noted in today's story about the vehicle.