* The GOP opposition to House Speaker Michael Madigan’s bill appropriating $100 million for an Obama presidential library is principled and on target…
“We’re not opposed to the library, but we have lots of other needs,” [Republican Rep. Ed Sullivan] said, citing, for example, Emanuel’s push to outfit more city schools with air-conditioning.
“Do you want to pay for air conditioning in schools or a library? Do you want to pay for cops on the streets to stop the killing or do you want to pay for a library?” Sullivan said.
* Rep. Ron Sandack…
“I would love to see an Obama Presidential Library in Chicago, but believe it is incredibly irresponsible for the majority party to suggest allocating $100 million in taxpayer money to help fund it. Illinois has colossal financial problems, and at a time when critical budget areas like Education, Human Services, Infrastructure and Public Safety are underfunded, it’s just bad policy to be throwing money we don’t have toward a project we’re not required to fund.
“Representatives from the federal National Archives and Records Administration stated that all existing presidential libraries from our 31st President Herbert Hoover through our 43rd President George W. Bush, were constructed solely with privately-raised funds. The precedent is clear, and Illinois is not in a position to break tradition by offering to foot the bill.
“This isn’t Monopoly Money that would be funding this project. It’s real, hard-earned taxpayer money from the citizens of Illinois. Sometimes I wonder if the majority party forgets that they are dealing with actual dollars.
“Majority party leaders in Springfield are talking out of both sides of their mouths. They claim they must permanently extend the temporary tax increase of 2011 because the State is in dire financial trouble, and in the next breath they are advocating spending $100 million in taxpayer funds on the Obama library project. The state has $7.2 billion in unpaid bills and a $100 billion unfunded pension liability. While I support the construction of the Obama Presidential Library in Illinois, I cannot support spending taxpayer money on it. I’ll be voting no.”
* Jack Dorgan…
“We certainly think that the Obama Library in Springfield or Chicago would be a perfect location,” said Jack Dorgan, Chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. “But the use of public funds at this time is unacceptable. It needs to be spent on deteriorating classrooms and fixing potholes in our streets.”
* But Madigan is pretty much all about the politics…
“The people that are concerned about the optics are the people that are not supporting it. And you heard the roll call: They’re all Republicans,” Madigan told reporters.
* He did, however, address the propriety of spending tax dollars…
“We did it for Abraham Lincoln here in Springfield,” Madigan said, citing the presidential library and museum in Lincoln’s hometown for which $125 million in state funding was appropriated. “We should do it for Barack Obama in Chicago.”
To further tamp down the GOP concerns about state funding for the Obama library, Madigan’s spokesman, Steve Brown, added that presidential libraries across the country have been built on land that either was given or leased to those respective institutions by universities.
“You don’t have Lincoln’s friends and family any longer who could raise money,” said Representative Ed Sullivan, a Republican from suburban Chicago. “It’s apples and oranges.”
Sullivan said Obama, 52, is a “prolific fundraiser,” who with Democratic allies raised more than $1 billion for his 2012 re-election campaign. Sullivan pledged to personally contribute to the project, if public funds aren’t used.
State Senator Matt Murphy, another Republican from suburban Chicago, said Madigan’s push for the public money has more to do with “racial and partisan” politics than economic development.
“He is showing a fear that his base isn’t going to come out in this election,” Murphy said. “They are trying to gin up the usual wedge issues.”
Brown said politics are also playing a role on the Republican side.
“The Tea Party gene has kicked in,” he said in a reference to the national limited-government movement. “Anything that has the Obama name, the Tea Party wants to object to.”