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Report: State Budget Cuts Threaten Lincoln Historic Sites

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The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. (Credit: www.alplm.org)

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. (Credit: http://www.alplm.org)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Admirers of Abraham Lincoln will be none too happy to learn that state budget cuts are threatening historic sites across the state.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, the headline in the New York Times Friday reads, “Deepening Cuts Raise Threat of the Land of Less Lincoln.” It could just as well read, “Lincoln is rolling over in his grave.”

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

The New York Times’ Dirk Johnson reports nothing is sacred when it comes to the Illinois state budget – even the state’s most prominent Lincoln sites such as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum are threatened.

It is estimated that the Lincoln sites generate $100 million in tourist dollars every year. But Dave Blanchette with the Historic Preservation Agency, which oversees the Lincoln sites, tells the New York Times that like every state agency, his is “staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, and wondering what will happen when the trigger is pulled.”

The agency oversees 60 historic sites and monuments on a shrinking $20 million budget, and some are talking about keeping them open using nonprofits, the New York Times reported.

Access already has been reduced in recent years at some Illinois historic sites, including the courthouses where Mount Pulaski and Postville courthouses in Lincoln, Ill., where Lincoln worked as an attorney, and the Cahokia Courthouse in the Metro East St. Louis area, which dates from the late 18th century, the New York Times reported.

In Galesburg, the birthplace of Carl Sandburg has been shut down for the winter, and whether it will reopen in the spring as scheduled depends on the budget, the newspaper reported.

The budget is also threatening the Bishop Hill commune in western Illinois, which was major early Swedish settlement in America and has been visited at least twice by King Carl XVI Gustaf, the New York Times reported.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s office told the New York Times that although historic sites are important, the Historic Preservation Agency cannot expect to be spared from budget cuts.

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