Governor vetoes bill that would provide relief for Illinois museums

Online Staff Report

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Tuesday, Aug. 13, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) vetoed a bill aimed at solidifying the financial situation of Illinois’ struggling public museums.

Currently, all city and park district aquariums or museums are open to state residents free of charge for 52 days a year, taking a heavy toll on their already strapped budgets. House Bill 1200 would have reduced that requirement to 26 free days each year.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, chief sponsor of the legislation, says the bill would have helped support many struggling Illinois museums.

Museums offer unique learning experiences within our communities; however, they need a good financial environment to keep their doors open,” said Sosnowski. “Currently, the state provides no operational support to museums, yet the state requires that they offer 52 free days. I am disappointed in the governor’s decision today to veto a bi-partisan bill that would have helped Illinois museums create more opportunities and offer more programming in our neighborhoods and schools.”

According to Steve Litteral, executive director of Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum in Rockford, the bill would have gone a long way to help local museums and hopes the bill will be reconsidered when the General Assembly returns to Springfield.

I was disappointed to learn that H.B. 1200 was vetoed after passing the General Assembly with strong support from both sides of the aisle,” Litteral said. “Financial support for museums is being cut every year, and will continue to be cut in the near future. House Bill 1200 went a long way to help museums stay fiscally sound and support educational programming.”

David Byrnes, Midway Village Museum president, said he is grateful for Rep. Sosnowski’ s efforts to lower the number of free days required by state law.

By reducing the number of free days, it would have increased museums’ opportunity to generate additional revenue, but would still benefit Illinois residents who may not be able to afford a visit to Midway Village Museum and other Illinois museums,” Byrnes said. “I am disappointed that the bill has been vetoed, and I hope that the very real economic needs of museums will be given full consideration this fall.”

House Bill 1200 passed the House by a vote of 79-36 and passed the Senate by a vote of 40-4. The General Assembly is scheduled to reconvene in Springfield for veto session in October, where Rep. Sosnowski said he will push for an override of the governor’s veto.

Posted Aug. 14, 2013

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