Should IL borrow $100M for Obama library?

Some of Illinois?s political leaders want to borrow $100 million to build President Barack Obama's Library in Chicago.
March 7, 2014 2:52:53 PM PST
Some of Illinois's political leaders want to borrow $100 million to build President Barack Obama's Library in Chicago.

"For a Presidential Library and Museum, people come from all over the world to visit that library," Illinois Rep. Monique Davis, (D ) Chicago, said.

For Rep. Davis, it would make no sense for Barack Obama to locate his presidential library and museum anywhere but Chicago.

"He has a home here. Where else does he own a home?" Rep. Davis said.

But Davis and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan will take no chances the prize might land in Honolulu or New York City. They want the state of Illinois to borrow $100 million to build the Obama archives here.

"Speaker Madigan and I have put forth a major effort to show Washington that we are serious," Davis said.

The Chicago sites under consideration reportedly include Bronzeville on the former Michael Reese Hospital grounds; the lakeside development on land once occupied by U.S. Steel where Obama worked nearby as a community organizer; neighborhoods near the University of Chicago or University Of Illinois Circle Campus and Chicago State University on the Far South Side.

"If it's at Chicago State, it becomes an economic engine for the entire South Side of Chicago," Dr. Wayne Watson, CSU president, said.

Watson says Chicago State--with its predominantly black enrollment-- is the best choice for the nation's first African-American president.

"Chicago State has the moral high ground for why it should be at Chicago State," Dr. Watson said.

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin agrees the library should be in Chicago, but wonders how the fiscally-troubled state could afford a $100 million investment.

"We're a state that is swimming in debt and I think people are naturally going to ask how you're going to pay for it," Durkin said.

Davis expects a vote on House Bill 6010 this session and likes its chances because her co-sponsor is powerful Speaker Madigan.

"He works very hard. He has a lot of support. And I think when he puts something forward he has figured out a way to get it done," Davis said.

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