(CBS) — A top Republican state lawmaker has accused Democrats of using an “under-handed and sneaky” maneuver to advance plans to set aside $100 million in state funds to bring President Barack Obama’s presidential library and museum to Illinois.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) said Democrats pulled a fast one by using a procedural maneuver last week when the House Executive Committee approved the money at a hearing in Chicago.
“The Democrats who run the House of Representatives decided to change the format of the hearing, and proceeded with a vote without having any Republicans present,” he said.
On Thursday, the committee’s chairman asked for a vote on the library funding plan, using the roll call of a committee meeting from the day before. Only five Democrats attended Thursday’s hearing, but all nine members – including four Republicans – were at the earlier meeting, and all nine members were recorded as voting yes.
“What they did last week was under-handed and sneaky, and offers further proof that they no longer can be trusted with taxpayer money,” Durkin said.
Durkin said now is not the time to be using public money on a presidential library.
“The state of Illinois is beyond broke. We can’t pay our bills. We’re $7 billion behind paying state vendors. We have pension systems that are barely afloat. Who in the world thinks that the state of Illinois can afford that right now?” he said. “To say that we are going to put $100 million aside in the hope that Illinois – and, specifically, Chicago – will be the recipient, or will be the designation of the Obama library, I believe it’s inappropriate for that type of discussion at this time.”
House Speaker Michael Madigan has said the $100 million for an Obama presidential library would not come from the state’s operating funds, but from borrowing used for construction funds. He’s also said there is precedent for public funding for a presidential library, since the state earmarked nearly $100 million for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, which was completed in 2004.