When an organization takes state money, there are always strings attached. Such is the case with Illinois museums.
Back in the days when the state was flush with cash, it doled out money to museums to help them operate. In exchange museums agreed to admit Illinois residents at no charge for 52 days a year.
Big museums like the Museum of Science and Industry and the Shedd Aquarium, both of which are in Chicago, are required to offer the free days. But so are smaller ones like the Swiss Cottage Museum in Rockford.
But the state money for museum operating expenses has dried up. And museums are still straddled with the requirement to let people in for free, potentially reducing their overall annual admissions revenue by 16 percent.
So the Illinois General Assembly passed a measure to reduce the free day requirement to 21 days.
But the governor vetoed it this week.
“The state doesn’t provide operating expenses anymore and we need to be helping museums move toward greater self-sufficiency by allowing them to earn more revenue,” said state Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford.
Sosnowski is now considering trying to override the veto. After all, self-sufficiency is something to be extolled not discouraged.
Philanthropy and admissions should support private museums.
State Fair report
Illinois News Network reporter Jackson Adams covered Governor’s Day and Republican Day events in Springfield during the Illinois State Fair. Here are his reports:
Bill Daley takes on Quinn’s record at Democratic Illinois Democratic County Chairman’s Association breakfast
The Illinois Democratic County Chairman’s Association breakfast speeches featured Gov. Pat Quinn and his primary challenger, former White House Chief of Staff, Bill Daley. Daley used the opportunity to lay out his case for change.
“We can’t win on a record that has heaped burdens on the middle class and those struggling to get there,” Daley said. “We’re the party of public education, not school cuts and teacher layoffs. We’re the party of tax fairness, not tax increases on middle-class families, and we are the party of jobs, not high unemployment.”
Speaking over a heckler, Daley continued: “People tell me Illinois is in a crisis, and of course we do have a pension crisis and a jobs crisis. Our most serious crisis may be a crisis in Springfield’s ability to get big things done for the average person in Illinois.”
After the breakfast, Daley made his opinion of Quinn clear.
“I don’t believe if the governor is re-nominated that the Democratic Party will win in the general election,” he said. “He barely won against a very flawed candidate for purposes of state election four years ago, and look what has happened in the last four years—we’ve had crisis, dysfunction, we have the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation. That is not a platform for him to run on for re-election.”
Gov. Pat Quinn’s reception at the breakfast was markedly enthusiastic, though there were some muted signs of discontent. State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, began his speech with a jab.
“I don’t think you got the memo from the governor’s folks that you’re not allowed to eat until we get pension reform,” he said. “I’m kidding, but I think the governor was serious about lunch.”
Quinn’s speech demonstrated his confidence in the face of possible criticism.
“I think most everybody knows, I am no shrinking violet,” Quinn said, speaking about his decision to suspend legislative pay until pension reform measures have been passed. “I am not here to run a popularity contest. I am here to do what’s right.”
More evident signs of discontent with the governor lay in who didn’t show up—House Speaker and Illinois Democratic Party boss, Mike Madigan.
Republicans on the path to growth?
The state fair’s Republican Day breakfast, a much smaller affair, featured speeches by all four of the GOP primary contenders for governor.
Businessman Bruce Rauner started the speeches.
“I’m dedicated to two things over the next 18 months. No. 1 is to help you [party members] rebuild our Republican Party,” he said. “We have to become a two-party state again.”
State Sen. Dillard, R-Hinsdale, highlighted his profile as a suburbanite with downstate roots.
“As a governor, I would assure you that the capital of Illinois will be Springfield,” he said. “We have been controlled by Chicago City Hall far too long and it has destroyed our state’s reputation and it has destroyed our state’s finances, and most importantly its economic vitality.”
State Treasurer Dan Rutherford highlighted the importance of Chicago if Illinois were to have any chances of a Republican future.
“If you do not get 20 percent of the city of Chicago, you will not be elected on a statewide run,” he said. “You just won’t do it.”
Bill Brady, who ran in 2010 and was narrowly defeated by Quinn, voiced his continued determination to turn Illinois into a red state.
“If higher taxes, higher fees and more litigation created jobs, then we’d be the No. 1 job producing state in the nation,” he said.
The Republican Chairman, Jack Dorgan, voiced confidence about GOP prospects.
“It’s nice to be able to come here today as Republicans and know you win by forfeit, since the other team doesn’t show up.”