Metro-East News

Illinois lawmakers vote no on making Obama’s birthday state holiday

By six votes, the Illinois House has rejected a bill that would have made former President Barack Obama’s birthday, Aug. 4, a state holiday.

The Associated Press reported the legislation, HB503, fell six votes short Tuesday — those opposed said the additional paid day off for state workers would only cost the cash-strapped state money it doesn’t have.

“When we are $9 billion in debt, can we add anymore debt?” state Rep. Charlie Meier said Wednesday. “We just can’t afford more debt and have another state holiday. … It keeps adding up, there can be a day to honor Barack Obama as president — that's fine. I would like to see a day for Ronald Reagan. I believe that anyone who is president that comes from Illinois should have a day honoring them.”

Republican floor leader Rep. Steven Andersson of Geneva also suggested it be honorary.

Among those who sponsored the bill was Rep. Layota Greenwood, D-East St. Louis. She had not returned request for comment on the legislation as of Tuesday evening.

“We can’t go out there spending more state funds on another holiday —we just don’t have those funds,” Meier said.