Barack Obama’s home state of Illinois doesn’t think the former president’s birthday should be a state holiday.
The House measure, sponsored by Chicago Democratic Rep. Sonya Harper, on Obama’s behalf, received 54 votes, six votes short of what was needed to move it to the Illinois State Senate, where Obama served from 1997 to 2004.
“President Barack Obama, he did great work for the state of Illinois and our country, and I believe we need to do our part in preserving that history,” Harper said.
Opponents to the proposal were fine with honoring the 44th president but not keen on the idea of closing schools and government facilities for the day.
“The concept you are working on here, giving President Obama his own day, I think is deserved. I think it’s appropriate, but I have a couple of questions about how we are doing it,” Rep. Steve Andersson said.
Noting that the Feb. 6th birthday of the 40th president and Tampico native, Ronald Reagan, is not a holiday, the Republican floor leader voiced concern over giving state employees a paid day off in the midst of its current financial crisis.
Harper disagreed with the suggestion that the day be simply honorary, citing the importance of formally recognizing the nation’s first African-American president and his history as a community organizer in his adopted home of Chicago, according to the Tribune.
“Personally, to me, he helped me to get motivated, get up in my community and organize my community to be the change that we want to see, and we are seeing right now on the ground,” Harper said.
The state has long-held Obama in high esteem and other pending proposals include naming a stretch of Interstate 55 the “Barack Obama Presidential Expressway.” Another measure proposes calling the state’s Tri-State Tollway the “President Barack Obama Tollway.”
Harper used a parliamentary procedure to allow another vote if she is able to garner enough support at another time.