Dupage Policy Journal

Dupage Policy Journal

Monday, December 9, 2019

Breen calls taxpayer funding required for Obama Center "unprecedented"


By Carrie Bradon | Jun 25, 2018

The Obama Center planned for Chicago's Southside will cost taxpayers almost $200 million. | Stock image

State Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) is disturbed by the fact that Illinois taxpayers may be asked to foot the bill of a private political center.

"Illinois state taxpayers should not be providing any public funding for the private Obama Center," Breen told DuPage Policy Journal.

Under the $38.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2019 that was recently passed by the Illinois General Assembly, taxpayers would be liable for at least $172 million of the infrastructure cost to build the Obama Library on Chicago's Southside, with some estimates saying the taxpayers' portion will be closer to $200 million. 

Peter Breen | Courtesy of Peter Breen

Breen is particularly unhappy because the Obama Center is not even designed to be a traditional presidential library.

"Presidential libraries are supposed to be privately funded, not publicly funded, Breen said. "Folks are becoming even more outraged when they learn that the Obama Center is apparently going to be a political and community organizing center, not even a proper library."

Breen explained that the purpose of the Obama Center is perfectly in line with what could be called a private political partisan purpose. 

"The Presidential Center appears to be intended to train up community organizers on the left wing to do political work, similar to how the president himself started his career in Chicago," Breen said. "Why are we putting nearly $200 million of Illinois tax dollars toward what appears to be more a private partisan political purpose rather than a public purpose library?"

Given that nearly all presidential libraries are privately funded and placed on government property for a reasonably low price, the more than $200 million bill being forced on taxpayers is "almost unprecedented in terms of presidential libraries," Breen said. 

"The Illinois state government is insolvent, and taxpayers can't afford to put hundreds of millions of dollars toward the Obama Center," he said.

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Illinois Representative Peter Breen (R-48th)

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