Sneaky Illinois Dems retreat from $100 million Obama library following backlash

Illinois legislators are backtracking on hasty plans to spend $100 million it doesn’t have to land Barack Obama’s future presidential library and museum.

Public ridicule has dogged a Democratic-controlled House committee that used procedural chicanery to approve the project without any Republicans in attendance. The committee’s chairman, Daniel Burke, called the gathering a mere “testimony hearing,” saying he assumed the committee vote would soon be followed by the normal legislative process, according to Fox News.

JFK library
JFK Presidential Library and Museum

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, meanwhile, called the vote “a misunderstanding,” telling WUIS radio that the committee would take another vote, “I would hope with the support of the Republican members of the committee, who I would think would want to support a son of Illinois, who rose to the presidency.” Never mind that this Illinois “son” was born and raised in Hawaii.

Illinois Republicans were quick to castigate the committee’s skullduggery.

“What they did last week was underhanded and sneaky and offers further proof that they can no longer be trusted with taxpayer money,” House Republican leader Jim Durkin said, according to Fox News.

GOP committee member Rep. Dwight Kay called the five-man leadership that broke House rules “typical Chicago politics at work.”

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An editorial in the Decatur Herald-Review lambasted the committee for its recklessness.

“A state that is nearly broke has no business spending $100 million on a potential Barack Obama presidential library,” the editorial said, noting that previous presidents’ libraries were built with private funds.

Madigan said the money would come from the capital budget, not the operating budget, adding that he couldn’t fathom the reluctance to use taxpayer money on the Obama project, since the state had borne the cost of the Abraham Lincoln Library, according to WUIS.

With such cockeyed reasoning, it’s little wonder that Illinois owes $7 billion to vendors and carries a $100 billion shortfall in state employee pension programs.

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Richard Berkow

Former political news reporter Richard Berkow lost his idealism in the Kennedy years, and his innocence in Vietnam, Lebanon, and the Soviet Union. He hasn’t mellowed since, and can be harassed at [email protected]

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