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McSweeney: Taxpayer dollars should not be used for Obama library

Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

The prospect of having President Obama’s presidential library in Chicago is positive.

By all accounts, the Abraham Lincoln library in Springfield has been a huge success and brought tourists from all across the globe to our capital city. Hopefully, a Chicago-based Obama library would be just as successful as the Lincoln presidential library.

There is no doubt in my mind that Illinois is the best place to locate the Obama presidential library. Republicans and Democrats can agree on the historical significance of Obama’s election in 2008, even though I disagree with many of his policies. Obama chose Illinois as the location of his announcement to run for president, and Illinois was where he celebrated his first presidential victory.

I am in agreement with my Democratic colleagues in the General Assembly that the Obama library belongs in Chicago, but where we part ways is on the issue of using taxpayer dollars to fund the library. Democrats want to use $100 million of taxpayers’ money to fund the library. Using taxpayer dollars to build the Obama library simply does not make sense.

How can we sink $100 million into a presidential library when the state currently has about $6 billion of unpaid bills? These unpaid bills are owed to businesses that have provided services to the state. The message Democrats are sending is that those hardworking people who have provided valuable services to the state can wait their turn while the state diverts $100 million to building a presidential library.

We have a spending problem in Illinois. Spending from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2014 increased from $33.7 billion to $35.4 billion, and Democratic leaders are trying to raise our taxes again and might try to spend as much as $38 billion in fiscal 2015. We need to truly reform Medicaid, cut administrative expenses and adopt real pension reform in Illinois.

With 8.4 percent unemployment and polls showing that a lot of people want to leave the state, we should immediately implement sound fiscal policies that will lead to job growth and job creation in Illinois. Instead of raising taxes and driving people out of the state, tax rates should be cut for all and spending should be cut. Cutting tax rates will create badly needed economic growth that will create jobs.

If Illinois’ 8.4 percent unemployment rate is reduced to the national average of 6.3 percent, at least $350 million of additional tax revenues will be created for the state.

I truly hope that a privately funded Obama library will be located in Illinois. The taxpayers of Illinois should not pay for it.

Instead, our taxpayers should be getting much needed tax relief while our leaders cut unnecessary spending.

• David McSweeney, a Barrington Hills Republican, represents Illinois’ 52nd State Representative District.

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