State Senator Bill Brady has come up with a dynamite idea to subsidize a Barack Obama Presidential Library in Illinois.
Put an income tax check-off line on income tax forms and let those who so desire donate money to the effort.
The idea for income tax check-offs came from the Executive Director of the Boone County Conservation District. I think he got the idea from the Illinois Department of Conservation.
He handed me an already-drafted bill early in Governor Jim Thompson’s time in office.
It called for the creation of the Non-Game Wildlife Check-off.
I ran into Revenue Department Jim Zagel on the first floor of the State Capitol, showed him the bill and asked what he thought of it.
He saw a corner of the front page had been clipped off.
“I already rejected this,” he said.
I introduced the bill anyway and got it passed.
Trying to build support, I made contact with an Indian from Southern Illinois who was raising golden eagles through artificial insemination. (The last time I made contact he was in New Mexico arranging decorations for weddings.)
I convinced him to bring an eagle to Springfield.
We stood on the second floor of the Capitol across from the Governor’s Office.
We were in front of a small statue of a bronze American Eagle.
“We can either have living eagles like this one,” I said pointing to the female eagle, who gave a screech, or we can have bronze eagles like the one above us.”
A reporter asked if I’d show the eagle to the Governor, who was in his office.
“Why not?” I thought.
We walked into the office and asked if the Governor would like to see the eagle.
Gubernatorial assistant Greg Baise came out to deliver the turn down.
Meanwhile the Indian’s mother had run to the nearby ladies room to get some paper towels.
The eagle had taken a dump on the rug of the Governor’s out office.
It was hilarious.
The same reporter who had egged me on said, “The eagle sure knows who his friends are, doesn’t he?”
Great comment, even if the eagle was a female.
Governor Thompson vetoed what I called “my furry and feathered friend bill” that year.
The next year I was out of office, having run for State Comptroller and lost to Roland Burris.
However, State Rep. Ginny Macdonald passed the same bill and this time Thompson signed it.
But he must have still harbored some resentment because he also signed an abused children’s check-off the same day and pushed the publicity its way.
In any event, the idea continues to be used by those who want to give organizations or causes the chance to get some money they could not through the appropriations process.
Using it to help finance an Obama Presidential Library, however, might have an unexpected problem.
Don’t a lot of those who would be willing to donate to such a cause not pay any income taxes?
If so, it would be hard to designate part of one’s refund for the library.
One final thought:
If Bill Brady had put forth ideas as innovative as this four years ago, he might be Governor.