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Obama presidential library: Panel advances $100 million boost

State Illinois hearing ObamPresidential Library Bilandic Building 160 N. LaSalle. L-r are Mike Madigan Rahm Emanuel.  Al Podgorski /

State of Illinois hearing on the Obama Presidential Library at the Bilandic Building at 160 N. LaSalle. L-r are Mike Madigan and Rahm Emanuel. Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media

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An Illinois state House panel on Thursday advanced a plan championed by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, to appropriate $100 million in state funds to help finance the construction of President Barack Obama’s presidential library and museum in Chicago.

The panel voted unanimously after a hearing in Chicago where rival institutions angling for the facility all agreed it should be in the city; just where is the point of disagreement.

The measure now advances to the floor of the state House. Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said “there is no firm plan to advance this bill immediately.”

While there have been some objections over the cash-strapped state of Illinois putting money toward an Obama library since Madigan announced his $100 million plan, no one testified against the state spending.

“We are not going to rely on the president’s affinity for Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff. With bids expected from Hawaii and New York City, “we want to be very competitive,” Emanuel said. While Madigan is aiming to put cash on the table for the Obama library, Emanuel so far has not suggested what sweeteners the city may be contemplating.

Representatives from Chicago State University, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago — the frontrunner by virtue of the time and resources it is devoting to a bid all testified — with none of the entities mentioning any particular location.

Responses to the Obama Foundation’s “requests for qualifications” are due June 16, with those making a first cut to be invited to submit a formal “request for proposal.”

Madigan said he is interested in having the state unify around one site.

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