Taxpayers would be allowed to voluntarily donate a portion of their tax refund to finance the building of future presidential libraries in Illinois under legislation introduced by State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington). Brady questioned why state tax dollars would be used to finance a presidential library, pointing out that federal law already prohibits federal tax dollars from being used to build a presidential library.
“We absolutely want future presidential libraries to be built in Illinois. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library has proven to be a major tourist destination, bringing people from around the country and world to visit Springfield. However, simply put, Illinois doesn’t have $100 million to spend on a presidential library,” said Brady. “State funds are already spread too thin to pay off our debt, make upgrades to our roads, and provide essential services.”
An amendment to Senate Bill 2010, filed by Brady, creates an income tax check-off that will appear on tax returns in 2015 to allow taxpayers to choose to contribute to the Capital Development Fund for the purpose of constructing a future presidential library in Illinois. The General Assembly would still have to appropriate the money from this fund for that purpose. Should less than $100,000 be collected, the check-off will fall off tax forms on October 1, 2015.
It’s no secret that Illinois is in the midst of a fiscal crisis. According to Brady the state funds are needed to do things like pay off state debt, strengthen the state’s physical infrastructure, and provide vital services to the people of Illinois.
- State debt has increased 140% from $55 billion in early 2003 to $130 billion as of February 2014.
- The amount of debt per Illinois citizen has grown from $4,300 in 2003 to $10,000 per citizen in 2014.
- Annual payments on our debt have risen from $2.6 billion in 2003 to $7.9 billion in 2014, a staggering 200% increase.
- Illinois is a transportation hub for the nation, but our physical infrastructure is crumbling. Currently almost 3,500 miles state roads, over 20%, are in disrepair.
- IDOT requires over $1 billion more a year to maintain roads and bridges.
- According to IDOT, by 2020 almost 6,200 of Illinois’ 16,000 miles of roads will be in a state of disrepair.
Brady says, “It would be a great boon to our state to have a future presidential library, like the one proposed for President Obama, built here. However, we can’t put the burden for paying for that library on the taxpayers without their consent. Allowing them to make the choice to donate to that fund is the right thing to do.”
Income tax check-offs have been commonly used on tax forms to fund things like breast and cervical cancer research, the National WWII Memorial Fund, and Habitat for Humanity. Should Brady’s legislation pass the legislature, future presidential libraries would be among the choices for taxpayers in 2015.