Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner said Thursday that Illinois should take a day each year to honor former Democratic President Barack Obama, but it shouldn't come with a day off work.
Rauner's comments came in response to a bill that would designate Aug. 4, Obama's birthday, as a state holiday. The measure seeks to put the first African-American president among the ranks of Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln, who also have state holidays in their names. State government is closed for business on state holidays.
"It's incredibly proud for Illinois that the president came from Illinois. I think it's awesome, and I think we should celebrate it," Rauner said when asked about the measure by a reporter at an unrelated event. "I don't think it should be a formal holiday with paid, forced time off, but I think it should be a day of acknowledgment and celebration."
In line with Rauner's view, a Senate bill would designate Aug. 4 as Barack Obama Day — but it would be a commemorative day instead of a state holiday.
Rauner is embroiled in a long-running contract dispute with largest state employee union over issues, including when overtime kicks in and health insurance costs. The union announced Thursday that it had authorized a strike vote, though the labor group also stressed that it first prefers to pursue all other options.
Other proposals to honor the former president and his influence in Illinois have surfaced in the General Assembly. One measure would label the stretch of Interstate 55 from the Tri-State Tollway to East St. Louis the "Barack Obama Presidential Expressway." A separate bill would dub the Tri-State the "President Barack Obama Tollway."Obama's reaction to architects' first design for his library: 'He said it was too unflashy.' Blair Kamin
Barack Obama is building his presidential library on Chicago's South Side, in Chicago's Jackson Park and next to Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood. Chicago residents will weigh in on it, Chicago aldermen will vote whether to approve it and Chicago benefactors will be asked to open their wallets to...
Barack Obama is building his presidential library on Chicago's South Side, in Chicago's Jackson Park and next to Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood. Chicago residents will weigh in on it, Chicago aldermen will vote whether to approve it and Chicago benefactors will be asked to open their wallets to...(Blair Kamin)
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