‘Obama holiday’ bill fails, saving Illinois taxpayers nearly $20M

‘Obama holiday’ bill fails, saving Illinois taxpayers nearly $20M

Proposed legislation to commemorate former President Barack Obama’s birthday as a state holiday in Illinois would have cost taxpayers nearly $20 million in state personnel expenses and lost productivity.

A proposal to designate Aug. 4 – former President Barack Obama’s birthday – a state holiday failed to gain enough support to pass the Illinois House of Representatives March 21, saving the state millions in personnel costs and lost productivity.

The bill would have amended the State Commemorative Dates Act to recognize Aug. 4 as a legal holiday to commemorate Obama. State workers would have had the day off; if the holiday were to fall on a Sunday, the state would observe Obama’s birthday the following Monday. This would have cost $3.2 million in personnel expenses for state-worker holiday pay and nearly $16 million in lost productivity due to the day off.

The bill fell six votes short of passing, 54-51-1.

State Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, who sponsored the legislation, used a parliamentary move to postpone the consideration for another attempt should she garner enough support for it. Twenty other Democrats co-sponsored the legislation.

Instead of inventing new holidays, lawmakers – both Democratic and Republican – should be getting to work on economic reforms that would save the state money, not cost money through added personnel costs and lost productivity.

Illinois’ backlog of bills has hit a record high, at more than $13 billion, and the state isn’t even covering the interest on its mounting pension debt. Meanwhile, lawmakers – who haven’t passed a balanced budget in 16 years – have come up with few solutions to the state’s fiscal woes other than multibillion-dollar tax hikes.

Though seemingly harmless, the Obama birthday holiday would have cost taxpayers more at a time when the state clearly can’t afford to dig itself into a deeper hole.

The following lawmakers voted in favor of the bill:

Carol Ammons, D-Champaign

Jaime Andrade Jr., D-Chicago

Daniel Burke, D-Chicago

Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago

Linda Chapa LaVia, D-Aurora

Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park

Melissa Conyears-Ervin, D-Chicago

Fred Crespo, D-Streamwood

Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago

John D’Amico, D-Chicago

Will Davis, D-East Hazel Crest

Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights

Scott Drury, D-Highwood

Marcus Evans Jr., D-Chicago

Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago

Laura Fine, D-Glenview

Mary Flowers, D-Chicago

LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago

Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston

Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria

LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis

Will Guzzardi, D-Chicago

Michael Halpin, D-Rock Island

Sonya Harper, D-Chicago

Gregory Harris, D-Chicago

Elizabeth Hernandez, D-Cicero

Stephanie Kifowit, D-Aurora

Lou Lang, D-Skokie

Camille Lilly, D-Chicago

Theresa Mah, D-Chicago

Rob Martwick, D-Chicago

Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan

Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago

Anna Moeller, D-Elgin

Martin Moylan, D-Des Plaines

Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg

Elaine Nekritz, D-Buffalo Grove

Al Riley, D-Hazel Crest

Bob Rita, D-Blue Island

Sue Scherer, D-Decatur

Elgie Sims Jr., D-Chicago

Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago

Cynthia Soto, D-Chicago

Juliana Stratton, D-Chicago

Silvana Tabares, D-Chicago

André Thapedi, D-Chicago

Arthur Turner, D-Chicago

Litesa Wallace, D-Rockford

Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood

Chris Welch, D-Westchester

Ann Williams, D-Chicago

Kathleen Willis, D-Northlake

Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake

Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!