Illinois government will keep the lights on Wednesday even if it can’t immediately pay the electric bill.
State police will stay on the roads. State parks will stay open for the July 4 holiday. Gambling regulators will keep working, allowing casinos to stay open. […]
Rauner’s administration will keep state workers on the job.
* The SJ-R editorializes about the pending closure of the Illinois State Museum…
Preserving the Illinois’ history and sharing it with the people of this state has been a priority for Illinois leaders for generations. The museum’s value is immeasurable.
But today, Illinois’ elected leaders are so entrenched they can’t come to an agreement on a new budget, and the Illinois State Museum is in the cross hairs. The budget expires Tuesday, and there’s still no signal that Rauner and lawmakers are on the brink of a deal.
Closing a museum is complicated business. It’s impossible to simply lock the doors and walk away. The accreditation the Illinois State Museum has had for 40 years could be revoked if it closes. Donations of money and artifacts will be affected. Collections will have to be returned to rightful owners. Research will come to a halt. The museum could go into legal default on federal grants and contracts. Private collection donors could sue the museum for failing to live up to its promises. Local tourism would take a hit.
All of this upheaval just to save the state of Illinois $4.8 million a year in operating costs for a facility that generates an estimated $33 million in visitor spending throughout the state each year, based on Illinois Office of Tourism minimum estimates of visitor spending.
For 138 years, the Illinois State Museum has been a priority for the state, through wars, economic downturns and tough times. If leaders choose to close the museum, Illinois will invalidate decades of valuable and meaningful research and preservation work, as well as people’s interest in the state’s history and culture.
This isn’t about the budget year expiring, it’s about Gov. Rauner declaring that the museum will be closed without a new budget. It wouldn’t be closing tomorrow had it not been for Rauner’s order.
* Also this…
On Tuesday, the doors to the Illinois Smart Energy Design Assistance Center in Champaign will close, putting several dozen employees out of work, at least temporarily.
Across campus, a million-dollar project to improve the nation’s power grid is on hold.
And a pile of solar panels, designed to make the University of Illinois’ new high-tech Electrical and Computer Engineering Building consume zero net energy, sits in storage.
Those are some of the early casualties of the ongoing budget standoff in Springfield.
Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has called for deep spending cuts, placed a freeze on a number of state grants and programs until a fiscal 2016 budget agreement is in place.