News

Illinois Shelving $100M Gift to Obama Library

Illinois Shelving $100M Gift to Obama Library

Photo: Newsradio WTAX

A plan to offer $100 million in tax dollars to lure Barack Obama’s presidential library to Illinois is on the shelf, as lawmakers wrapped up their spring session without advancing the idea.

Democrats in the president’s home state pushed the proposal to compete against rival bids from Hawaii and New York. But it faced opposition from Republicans wary of an expensive and precedent-setting gift — with no immediately identified funding source — for a mostly private endeavor when the state faces serious financial difficulties.

Not all Democrats were on board either. Both the Democratic-controlled House and Senate adjourned without calling for any final votes on the measure.

“It wasn’t clear that a state monetary incentive was necessary for a successful (library) proposal,” said Rikeesha Phelon, a spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton.

Sponsors of the measure vowed to continue their advocacy, but the initiative now must wait despite a June 16 deadline for host proposals to Obama’s library commission.

The state’s influential House speaker, Michael Madigan, who doubles as state Democratic Party chairman, had hoped the library plan would be part of a multibillion-dollar replacement for a five-year statewide construction plan that is expiring. But that larger bricks-and-mortar program also got no traction as lawmakers patched together a 2015 state budget without extending a temporary income tax increase, as Democrats had sought.

Even without approval of a capital plan, Davis wanted a vote before the House adjourned to send a supportive message ahead of the commission’s application deadline. She said she will continue pushing the idea this fall when lawmakers return to Springfield.

Republicans say they welcome the library and the tourists it would attract. But they pointed out that no library dedicated to a modern president received state or federal tax dollars — although Democrats point out public assistance is often offered, such as donated land.

Madigan cited as precedent the public funding of another presidential library — that of the Prairie State’s other favored son, Abraham Lincoln. That $155 million Springfield showplace was financed with $115 million in state tax money and $32 million in federal dollars.

Recent Headlines

in Election 2014, Local

Durbin: Sun-Times Reporter’s Departure “Worrisome”

Fresh
Republican state Sen., Jim Oberweis, right, offers to give Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, more paper after Durbin joked about only getting one page of paper for notes before their first of two televised debates prior to the Nov. 4 election Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Chicago. Oberweis, a dairy entrepreneur from Sugar Grove, has acknowledged it will take a big GOP year to unseat Durbin, the second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate who's represented Illinois on Capitol Hill for more than three decades.

Bruce Rauner’s campaign is being accused of bullying the Chicago Sun-Times, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says that should be a troubling sign to voters.

in Local

Sears Announcement Doesn’t Include Springfield Stores

Fresh
unemployed

Sears says it is closing more than 100 stores and laying-off more than 5,400 employees across the nation.

in Election 2014, Local

Analyst: Debate for US Senate Doesn’t Reveal Much

vote

One more debate scheduled for next week

in Election 2014, Local

Oberweis Comes Out for Same-Sex Marriage

durbin oberweis

GOP challenger to Durbin insists this is not a change

in Local

Springfield Based Reporter Resigns Following Rauner Complaint

Chicago Sun Times

Dave McKinney was the Chicago Sun-Times' Springfield bureau chief.