The Illinois State Museum must have a revenue stream, more support from the Illinois State Museum Society and should not be fully subsidized by tax dollars alone. That’s according to Governor Bruce Rauner who issued an amendatory veto of a measure to require the museum and its branch locations be open, even during a budget impasse.
A news release about the amendatory veto of Senate Bill 317 Friday afternoon says the measure is an “unfunded mandate with no appropriations to support the Museum or its branch sites. The governor also said the museum should “partner with public and private third-parties to invest in the Museum’s mission.”
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Rauner’s office says the veto message “authorizes the Director of Illinois Department of Natural Resources to establish entrance fees” with a provision “for special groups, like schoolchildren and the elderly, for whom admissions fees can be waived or lowered.”
The governor said he supports the bill’s fundamental purpose of opening the museum to the public again, but his administration “was required by the Illinois Constitution and our responsibility to taxpayers to take whatever steps we could to cut non-essential costs.”
Rauner said “the State invests more than $6 million per year, despite attendance of only 200,000 visitors per year,” and “as long as this bill fails to offer any plan to help the Museum become self-supporting, it is just an empty and broken promise to the taxpayers of Illinois.”
“I propose not merely re-opening the Museum while continuing its status quo,” Rauner said, “but re-energizing its operations and partnering it with other public and private entities to make it truly self-supporting and to relieve the fiscal burden to taxpayers.”
Meanwhile the Governor said the Illinois State Museum Society “was formed precisely for the purpose of supporting the Museum’s operations. Up until this point, the State Museum Society has run the museum bookstore and has also led its research initiatives, but the Society can and must do more.”
The museum and its branch locations has been closed since October 1st of last year.
Chief sponsor of the measure, Democratic Senator Andy Manar, was unavailable for comment as of late Friday. A media contact for Manar said they expect to issue a statement early next week.
Lawmakers must either override the governor's veto with a super majority, concur with the governor’s changes, or do nothing and let the bill die.