House candidate sees Obama library as more wasteful spending by Madigan
Illinois doesn't need to pile anything else atop the mountain of debt that is already crushing it, Dan Caulkins says.
Yet it comes as no surprise to him that House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) is supporting a proposal to force taxpayers to pick up the tab for former President Barack Obama’s presidential library, estimated to be in the neighborhood of $500 million.
“I would expect this to be the case,” Caulkins, who recently announced his 2018 run for state representative to replace the retiring Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) in the 101st District, told the Macon Reporter. “He represents Chicago, and this is being built there, where his constituency is.”
Caulkins said he sees the measure as another example of the self-serving way the longtime House speaker operates.
“I think it shows a total lack of regard for the dire financial condition of the state,” he said. “It looks like he doesn’t really care that the state has no money and like he sees everything coming in as being his own personal piggy bank.”
Caulkins thinks the state would be much better off using the money to pay down some of its more than $14 billion debt.
He also points out that former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush used private funds to construct their respective libraries.
“I feel that’s how it should be,” he said.
The Barack Obama Presidential Center will consist of a museum, a forum and a library, all located in Chicago's Jackson Park neighborhood near the University of Chicago.
Part of the overall plan also calls for the closure of South Cornell Drive between 60th and 67th streets, a six-lane thoroughfare that runs along the western park lagoon and the park's golf course that city officials have yet to attach a price tag to.
A former Decatur councilman, the 70-year-old Caulkins is running on a platform of fiscal responsibility. He launched his campaign after state legislators enacted a $36.1 billion spending plan that carries a 32 percent income tax hike over the summer.
“Just raising taxes won’t solve anything,” he previously told the Macon Reporter. “These are difficult times, and people are leaving the state. We need people in Springfield that are willing to take a stand on the side of the people.”
The 101st District spans parts of Decatur and Logan counties.