Republicans going after Obama center funds meant for state roads

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SPRINGFIELD (Illinois News Network) – Illinois Republicans want to take back state road money that’s been dedicated in the budget for former President Barack Obama’s presidential center in Chicago.

State Rep. David McSweeney has filed legislation that would revoke the $180 million in state tax dollars directed to prepare the roads for Obama’s presidential building. The money was part of the larger budget passed in June that spends more than the state ever has, but still shorted items like grants for veterans.

Construction of the project was intended to be funded by private donations.

In a release announcing the funding, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said it “demonstrates Illinois’ commitment to honoring the legacy of Chicago’s favorite son and daughter.”

Instead of Chicago, the money would be re-allocated to Schaumburg, Dixon, Ottawa, Peoria, Paris, Springfield, Effingham, Collinsville, and Carbondale should McSweeney’s bill become law.

“What we simply do is take this money from the capital budget and reallocate it to roads throughout the state of Illinois,”McSweeney said. “I support the Obama Presidential Center, but only if it’s privately funded.”

The structure that will sit on Chicago’s south side is not going to be Obama’s official library, which would allow for more federal funds. McSweeney said it’s all the more reason to pull back state funding.

Also signed on to McSweeney’s legislation are Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, and Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park.

State Sen. Sam McCann, who also is running for governor, has filed similar legislation.

Construction of the presidential center is slated to begin this fall and be completed sometime after 2021.

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