On April 17, the Illinois legislature floated the idea of spending $100 million in Illinois tax dollars on an Obama Presidential library, despite that the President has made no decision on where his library will be. Almost immediately the idea drew criticism. Now, as the Illinois legislative session ends, the plan is stalled.
Originally, Illinois House Speaker, Democrat Mike Madigan, said that the idea was a sure thing. “The state of Illinois will spend over $1 billion in construction this year alone, so $100 million is not out of line. It’s clearly a good investment for the future,” Madigan said in April.
Yet even as Madigan, the most powerful man in the state, thought HB6090 would sail through the legislature, he still felt the need to conduct a secret committee meeting–excluding Republicans–to approve of the plan.
Despite Madigan’s power, protests started immediately. Illinois is nearly bankrupt and sits at the bottom of nearly every metric of what makes a successful state and this secret $100 million was too much for even some Democrats to vote for.
Chicago Democrats, though, wanted to show what they called a “good faith” effort to prove to the Obama Library Committee that the state was a serious contender for the installation.
But Republicans found the expenditure to be an “abuse” of the taxpayer.
“Bush and Clinton both raised over $200 million in private funds to take care of their library,” said Rep. Joe Sosnowksi (R, Rockford). Sosnowksi insisted that Obama’s “ability to raise that amount and more is without question.” He also felt that for Illinois taxpaiers to “chip in half of what a presidential library would cost is an abuse of the taxpayers.”
Finally, with the legislative session ended, the $100 million plan stalled without action.
The measure is not necessarily dead, though. Democrats may push the plan again in the next session.
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