The Illinois Senate passed legislation Monday that would let the state museum reopen. The measure allows the state to charge an admissions fee for the museum in Springfield and branch sites. The governor closed the museum last fall to save money.
Under the legislation, sponsored by Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, the formerly free museum would start charging an admissions fee. It would also create a not-for-profit foundation for the state fairgrounds, which would reduce reliance on taxpayer money.
"I think that's a step to the middle. It's a profound step to the middle and it's a step in the right direction," Manar said. "The concept here is to try to take a piece of what we have passed, a piece of what the governor has said he needs and put them in the same bill in an attempt to force, I'll use that word, force a reopening of the state museum."
Republicans don't like that the measure doesn't exempt donations from state purchasing rules which they say will reduce private contributions. The governor vetoed Manar's last attempt to reopen the state museum in February. The plan now goes to the House.