Illinois' House Speaker and Democratic Party chair has introduced legislation he hopes will lure President Barack Obama to choose Illinois as the site of his presidential library and museum, an effort that could be part of a push later this year to approve a new capital construction bill.
Speaker Michael Madigan and fellow Chicago Democratic Rep. Monique Davis announced the plan late Tuesday afternoon. It would devote $100 million in state capital funding for the construction of the library and museum, effective in July.
Madigan, who noted Illinois has a "long and proud tradition as the birthplace or home of some of our country's most influential commanders in chief," said it's important that Illinois makes a strong financial commitment to honor the legacy of a favorite son.
Just how Illinois — which faces a $5.4 billion backlog of unpaid bills — will pay for such a plan is unclear, however.
Steve Brown, a spokesman for the speaker, said a time frame on how the money would be appropriated has not been set, noting the state "will need a new capital plan to accommodate programs like this one."
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The last capital construction program, passed by the Legislature in 2009, funded $31 billion in projects around the state, through approving video gambling and taxing liquor, soft drinks and candy, and increasing driver's license fees.
According to the National Archives, the president selects the location of his presidential library. Proposals are submitted by interested locations.
The competition to host the presidential library has already set off infighting in Chicago.
No fewer than six potential Chicago bids have emerged, each backed by different interests.
The main tension is between the University of Chicago, where Obama was a constitutional law professor, and a group advocating for Bronzeville, the city's historic center of black culture.
There are also two potential bids on the Far South Side, one led by Chicago State University and the other by a group promoting the historic Pullman neighborhood. It was in those areas that Obama established his earliest roots in the city as a community organizer in the mid-1980s, setting up job training programs and defending the rights of public housing tenants.
The University of Illinois at Chicago, on the Near West Side, also is taking a shot, as is a real estate developer pushing the former U.S. Steel Corp. site on the southeast lakefront.