Friday, November 13, 2015

Illinois State Museum opening measure in Rauner's hands : Politics


SPRINGFIELD | Illinois lawmakers offered some hope Tuesday to fans of the Illinois State Museum and its satellite facilities, but a final decision on reopening the shuttered institution remains in Gov. Bruce Rauner's hands.

In a rare show of bipartisan support, the Illinois House voted 82-32 in favor of legislation that would require the state to keep the museum open.

That came after the Senate approved the proposal in August on a 40-9 vote.

Rauner, who announced the closure of the facilities in June after he and the General Assembly failed to agree on a spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1, still has the final say.

"The bill is under review," Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said Wednesday.

At issue is Rauner's decision to shutter the 136-year-old museum in Springfield and its satellite facilities like the southern Illinois artisan shop in Whittington, a gallery in Lockport and the Dickson Mounds burial ground in Lewistown in reaction to the lack of a budget.

Even if Rauner signs the measure, his office contends he still would have to decide how to manage the state's programs and spending without a spending blueprint from the Legislature.

State Sen. Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat, introduced the proposal in July after Rauner announced the closure, along with plans to close the Hardin County prison work camp and up to two juvenile prisons.

“The state museum is a vital educational and cultural institution and should remain open. The success of this legislation is a credit to the work of every ISM supporter who made the case and showed how important this institution truly is," Manar said Wednesday.

The situation has left the museum doors locked to the public since Oct. 1, but more than 40 employees continue to show up for work pending the outcome of grievances and lawsuits filed by state worker unions.

In Tuesday's action, a handful of Republicans showed their opposition to their governor's decision when they sided with majority Democrats in supporting the legislation.

The legislation is Senate Bill 317.

Illinois State Museum opening measure in Rauner's hands : Politics

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