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Senate Democrats question Rauner museum lockout (VIDEO)

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On the final day that the state’s museums are open, Senate Democrats openly questioned why the governor would lock out the public and urged him to reconsider turning people away from the cultural and educational resources.

Here’s what Senate Democrats are saying about the Rauner lockout:

State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston): “Let’s be clear: The museums aren’t really closing. Rather, Governor Rauner is locking out the public. The employees will still show up for work. The exhibits will remain in their places. The buildings will be heated and air conditioned. But, the governor is locking the doors and denying the public access to a tremendous asset and public resource.

It’s a foolish, mean-spirited move. Locking the doors and shooing away school groups from a fully staffed museum complex doesn’t save any money.

Governor Rauner’s short-sighted, uncaring decision won’t help the state economically, but will impede our cultural and educational growth. I urge the governor to leave the museum doors open and fight his budget battles at the negotiating table.”

State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria): “Locking the public out of Dickson Mounds while all of the employees are still on the job makes it even more obvious that Gov. Rauner’s decision to close the state museums is based on politics, not sound public policy. Let’s be clear – the state isn’t seeing any cost savings, but businesses in Lewistown and surrounding communities are going to start seeing lost revenue.”

Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago): "One of Illinois’ greatest treasures is its state museums that highlight the rich history, culture and traditions of our state. I’m saddened that the general public will be locked out from state museums. What’s odd about the governor’s decision is that the employees will still be working, the exhibits will stay in place and the buildings will continue being heated and cooled. The governor isn’t saving the state any money. Instead, all he’s doing is ensuring that school kids and adults across Illinois can’t learn about the history of their state.

"Shame on the governor for making a poor management decision that will take away educational resources from our children. I urge him to change his mind and leave the museum doors open."

State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill): The governor is throwing common sense aside in closing the museums to the public even as the employees must show up to the locked facilities.

“If the Illinois State Museum and its branches, including our Lockport Gallery, are staffed, they should be open, right?”
The state museum system is a network of centers housing some of the state’s greatest historical and cultural assets. Governor Rauner is locking the doors and blaming it on budget pressures. However, officials estimate the annual savings at less than $400,000 a year and the museum staff will still show up for work, the exhibits remain and the buildings will be maintained.

Learn more about the state museums:

SJ-R Opinion: Illinois State Museum closure short-sighted and arbitrary
Native Illinoisans' history on governor's chopping block
Senate votes to keep Illinois State Museum open
Manar pushes to keep state museums open

If you didn’t make it to the State Musuem in Springfield before the lockout, here’s a quick video of one final trip through.