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Republicans Propose Tax Check-Off To Fund Obama Library

Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois

  Republicans say they've found another way to fundraise for a future Barack Obama presidential library ... one that doesn't involve state funds. This comes a day after Democrats advanced a plan to use state funds to entice the president to put his library in Chicago.

In a party-line committee vote, Democrats pushed through a plan to pledge $100 million for the construction of President Barack Obama's future library and museum ... should he choose to locate it in Illinois. Hawaii and New York are also in the running.

Republicans cried foul when the plan was initially approved at a hearing in Chicago, where their votes were counted even though no Republican was present. Since then, Sen. Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) says

Republicans have been made to look like they don't want to pay for a Democratic president's library.

"It's important to make the distinction," she said. "It does not mean because we don't want to pay for it with tax dollars, that does not mean that we don't want the presidential library here in Illinois."

So Senate Republicans are proposing an optional tax check-off to donate to a presidential library fund. They say they're optimistic the $100 million can be raised through voluntary donations on next year's taxes.

Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) points out that money for cancer research, wildlife preservation and military veterans support is collected through voluntary tax check-offs. He says this would be no different.
"I believe we'll be able to achieve our goal of raising $100 million on a voluntary basis and yet preserve the $100 million in taxpayer money for programs like mental health, education funding, department of corrections, roads and infrastructure," he said.
The most successful of these funds, however, only collected $136,000 last year.

Hannah covers state government and politics for Capitol News Illinois. She's been dedicated to the statehouse beat since interning at NPR Illinois in 2014, with subsequent stops at WILL-AM/FM, Law360, Capitol Fax and The Daily Line before returning to NPR Illinois in 2020 and moving to CNI in 2023.
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