House Speaker Michael Madigan just introduced a bill to the Illinois General Assembly that appropriates $100 million to build a presidential library and museum “dedicated to the legacy of President Barack Obama.”
Illinois is sitting on $7.6 billion in unpaid bills. The state’s credit rating has been downgraded five times since the largest tax hike in state history in 2011. More than 1 million Illinoisans are unemployed or underemployed, ranking the state’s unemployment rate at the third-highest in the nation. The state has signed up more people for food stamps than have been added to payroll jobs since 2011. That out of touch politicians have offered up $100 million in the face of these staggering realities is indicative of the toxic lack of leadership in Illinois.
That our elected officials have prioritized the funding of a library – which may or may not even be constructed in Illinois – for a president who is still in office is outrageous.
According to the National Archives, presidential libraries are paid for and funded through a variety of sources, including private funds donated to nonprofit organizations. While some presidential libraries have also received construction and development funding from state and/or local governments, that does not mean that Illinois is in the financial position to make such contributions, especially when that money could instead be spent on improving access to health care or put toward paying our bills on time.
There is undeniable merit in the history and tradition of erecting libraries to honor our presidents. That being said, let those who support Obama’s tax-and-spend policies pay for his monument. The only legacy his administration has left in the Land of Lincoln is one of debt and decline. Taxpayers can’t afford to fund any more perks for politicians. And $100 million is a price we simply shouldn’t have to pay.