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GOP legislator blasts use of state funds for Obama library infrastructure

Monday, Oct 30, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* RFD Radio/WFMB

State Rep. Bill Mitchell, Forsyth, said he’s hearing House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton may seek a nine-figure sum during the just underway veto session to help get the [Obama Presidential Library on Chicago’s South Side] project off the ground.

“Never in our country’s history have we used state funds for a presidential library, but Madigan and Cullerton are trying to urge the governor to provide that $100 million that should go to roads,” Mitchell said.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has been partially funded by the State of Illinois since it opened in 2006. […]

“I would urge people to call Governor Rauner’s office at 782-6830 and urge the governor to resist Madigan’s and Cullerton’s pressure to use our road money for the Obama library,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell has co-sponsored legislation seeking to prevent the state from spending $100 million on the library project. His co-sponsors are State Reps. David Reis, C.D. Davidsmeyer, Terri Bryant and Charles Meier.

I asked Madigan’s spokesman Steve Brown for comment. Brown said he would remind Rep. Mitchell “we are talking about a state infrastructure program and that Chicago is in Illinois. Perhaps that has slipped his mind.” Senate President Cullerton’s spokesman has not yet responded.


  1. - anon2 - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 2:18 pm:

    This is consistent with Rep. Mitchell’s resolution a couple of years ago calling for the county of Cook to secede. Now improving roadways for other purposes is kosher, but not for a library for the former President who calls Illinois home.

  2. - W Flag - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 2:24 pm:

    Shouldn’t the Abraham Lincoln Library be considered a special case? Presidential libraries were not the norm in 1865 and did not really take off until after Hoover served in office. No one from the Lincoln family was available to fund raise for a library, so the legislature helping out made sense.

  3. - Nearly Normal - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 2:26 pm:

    There was an effort to use state funds earlier in the site selection process in 2014. The article notes that state funds were used for the Lincoln presidential library. That also houses the collection of the Illinois Historical Library that used to under the Old Illinois State Capitol.

    From a USA Today article–

    “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.”


  4. - JoeMaddon - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 2:34 pm:

    LOL - I love these two paragraphs together:

    “Never in our country’s history have we used state funds for a presidential library, but Madigan and Cullerton are trying to urge the governor to provide that $100 million that should go to roads,” Mitchell said.

    The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has been partially funded by the State of Illinois since it opened in 2006. […]

  5. - Not Rich - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 2:37 pm:

    The Road Fund doesn’t have $1 much less $100million .. people just talking at each other..

  6. - We'll See - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 2:39 pm:

    State “Rebs” Mitchell, Reis, Davidsmeyer, Bryant and Meier… still fighting that Northern Aggression.

  7. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 2:40 pm:

    I’m personally OK with partially funding it, but shouldn’t that buy the state some say in what it looks like and how it operates? I think I saw a Trib article about some local opposition to certain aspects of the project today. Not wild about a blank check to give the Obama library carte blanche to do whatever they want.

  8. - Grand Avenue - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 2:42 pm:

    This sounds like a Red Meat thing he can send out a taxpayer-funded mailer about (maybe with a survey card) that will eventually lead to nothing.

    The HDems have been doing it with the Elected School Board for 2 cycles now.

  9. - Shemp - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 2:47 pm:

    I have a hunch that if a plan were developed, the donors would make it happen. The State need not fund anywhere near that level. This at a time when stories are running about big MFT cuts to counties on down for road work…. The inability for Illinois to prioritize continues and is what got us here.

  10. - Back to the Mountains - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 2:49 pm:

    Okay, let’s all play along and pretend this has nothing to do with the person we’re building the library for…

  11. - We'll See - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 3:00 pm:

    Does Davidsmeyer’s family still own a road building construction company in Jville? If so, that may that explain his co-sponsorship.

  12. - cdog - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 3:02 pm:

    It took 140 years for Lincoln to get his library. Obama can wait awhile as far as I’m concerned. /s

    I voted for him, 2x, but as every day goes by, I like him less. I would prefer our state’s financial problems are not compounded by this.

  13. - Amalia - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 3:09 pm:

    “….Chicago is in Illinois. ” LOL

  14. - Honeybadger - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 3:18 pm:

    cdog-you voted for Lincoln 2x? /s

  15. - Steve Rogers - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 3:36 pm:

    Comparing the two (ALPLM and Obama Library) is apples and oranges. I thought presidential libraries (Bush, Clinton, Bush, etc) were funded and built privately then operations turned over to the National Archives. The Obama Library should follow that model. The Lincoln Presidential Library was a different animal–the Library was the the Illinois State Historical Library which had been state funded for years and years. The Museum is new of course, but it was never intended to go to the National Archives.

  16. - Tequila Mockingbird - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 3:50 pm:

    Let Hawaii do it.

  17. - Anon - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 3:57 pm:

    ===I voted for him, 2x, but as every day goes by, I like him less. I would prefer our state’s financial problems are not compounded by this.===

    Illinois’ problems are structural created by a deliberate and intentional plan to skip making pension payments for decades combined with refusing to levy a enough taxes to pay for the services folks demand.

    Quite an instinct for the capillary ya got there.

    ===Let Hawaii do it.===

    Maybe the state with a long history of race riots, sundown towns, and blatant institutionalized racism across the board would benefit more from housing a library paying tribute to the first African American President.

  18. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 3:57 pm:

    As a life long republican I still am proud of Obama and the Illinois connection. However I do not want to give a blank check either. We should do what we can but in this day and age when ex presidents really have money thrown at them, let them do a few fund raisers and let them pay for their own security and I do mean both parties. And if truly was a library where his letters and records stored more money to it, but true or not I hear his actual letters etc stored somewhere else with digital access at the library. that is not a library if true

  19. - Michelle Flaherty - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 4:07 pm:

    I believe the recent amendment to the state Constitution would prohibit the use of Road Fund dollars to pay for the actual library.
    Not that facts, laws and constitutions ever mattered much to Rep. Mitchell.
    Mitchell isn’t running for re-election so why’s he trying so hard to cover for his tax hike vote?
    Just fade away dude.

  20. - Interim Retiree - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 4:25 pm:

    Presidential Libraries/Museums are REAL tourist attractions. My brother from California came to visit & the Lincoln Library was his one thing he wanted to visit when he came to Chicago. He will come again when the Obama Library is done.

  21. - JoanP - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 4:26 pm:

    @Ron Burgundy -

    “I think I saw a Trib article about some local opposition to certain aspects of the project today.”

    I live in the neighborhood, and I can tell you that there will always be opposition to anything that happens here.

    When Cornell Drive was widened, people chained themselves to trees to try to stop that. Now people don’t want it closed.

    Two Hyde Parkers, three opinions (or four or five or six).

  22. - Plutocrat03 - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 4:40 pm:

    Has the library run in to funding issues? Based on what I have read there are many donors lining up to fulfill the wishes of President Obama.

  23. - jwr - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 4:57 pm:

    reis is trying to do something only because he has a primary challenger

  24. - Bigtwich - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 4:58 pm:

    I took away from this is that the state would be spending money on infrastructure, not on the library. Is there more information somewhere?

  25. - austinman - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 5:09 pm:

    I bet these some bumbs would be gun oh for a trump library. Maybe some Republicans cant stand seeing a library built for a black president with some of their road dollars even though a ton of the state money come from hmmmm chicago. Ill make a deal as a City of Chicago resident how about we keep all the sales tax and tourism tax dollars that come into the city because of the Library and we keep what we put into infrastructure. I am for ONE ILLINOIS, but people like Rep. Mitchell make me say hmmmm

  26. - Teddy Salad - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 5:09 pm:

    Let all 57 States pitch in.

  27. - Anonymous - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 5:21 pm:

    I hope Bill Mitchell remembers Northeastern Illinois flips the bill for the rest of the State. Funny how the folks who run bills against Chicago and collar counties never remember their money comes from up North. Maybe they should look at the graph from LRB from this past summer. Keep trying to divide the state in 2 and you’ll get exactly what you want Northeastern IL legislators asking for their money back.

  28. - Huh? - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 6:02 pm:

    Michelle - There is a lot of road work that will have to be done to change the street network around the Obama Presidential Center. As far as additional information is concerned, I am sure Chicago has a website some place.

  29. - Anonymous - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 6:36 pm:

    Amalia “….Chicago is in Illinois.


  30. - justacitizen - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 7:43 pm:

    Seems the beneficiary of the library (Chicago)should fund the library, not the state. The ALPLM if it received state funding, probably shouldn’t have.

  31. - VanillaMan - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 9:28 pm:

    What if we were discussing Former President Mitchell’s presidential library in Decatur?

  32. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 9:45 pm:

    VM, if we were doing that, AA would be more concerned with being hit by a flying pig coming in for a landing than infrastructure funding.

    Pair up with the City and fix the roads. The downstate parochialism is disappointing.

  33. - Anonymous - Monday, Oct 30, 17 @ 10:39 pm:

    Mighty white of him.

  34. - the Patriot - Tuesday, Oct 31, 17 @ 8:23 am:

    I don’t care about the politics, what I care about is there some theory that the people get a benefit from this.

    Assuming we have an analysis that that shows a benefit to the people and the Community, it relies on the State of IL and City of Chicago to do it right.

    President Obama should nix this plan on his own based on that fact alone.

    If President Obama thinks IL and Chicago can partner to pull this off, just have him buy the Thompson Center.

  35. - cannon649 - Tuesday, Oct 31, 17 @ 9:34 am:

    State has a $150 billion plus in unfunded liability.


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