Time for another state holiday? Bill would make Obama’s birthday No. 13

SPRINGFIELD — The Capital City was quieter than usual Friday with most state agencies shut down for Lincoln’s Birthday.

With that state holiday on Friday and the national President’s Day holiday coming Monday, most of state government found itself with a four-day break.

Meanwhile, a bill by state Rep. Andre Thapedi, D-Chicago, would make President Barack Obama’s Aug. 4 birthday Illinois’ 13th paid state holiday.

How does that compare to paid holidays in the federal government and in the private sector?
Right now, Illinois has a dozen paid holidays.

Those are: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday (Presidents Day), Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, General Election Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. That’s according to the state’s Department of Central Management Services.

The federal government has ten paid holidays, according to the Office of Personnel Management. Those holidays are the same as Illinois’, minus Lincoln’s Birthday and Election Day.

Statewide, according to a survey of about 500 employers by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, the average number of paid holidays in 2016 averages about 8.8 days.

The 2016 Illinois Chamber Paid Holiday Survey indicates six holidays are those most widely celebrated with a paid day off.
In order of prevalence, they are New Year’s Day at 98.2 percent, Labor Day at 98.2 percent, Thanksgiving at 98 percent, Memorial Day at 97.6 percent, Independence Day at 97.3 percent and Christmas at 90.4 percent.

The next most-awarded holiday days are Good Friday at 34.6 percent, New Year’s Eve at 27.2 percent, Martin Luther King Day at 20.6 percent, Presidents Day at 18.5 percent, Veterans Day at 16.3 percent, and Columbus Day at 8.9 percent.

In the bottom tier are floating holidays, 5.2 percent; Lincoln’s Birthday, 2.6 percent; the employee’s birthday, 2 percent; and Jewish holidays; 1 percent. Washington’s Birthday and Casimir Pulaski Day each came in at less than 1 percent.

About 1.3 percent of the respondents in the chamber’s survey indicated Election Day is recognized with a full paid holiday, while 1 percent said it is awarded as a half-day.

Perhaps in a nod to the president, Thapedi filed the Obama birthday measure Feb. 2, about a week before Obama’s speech at the Statehouse where the president, also a Chicago Democrat, began his career in elective office.

The bill remains in the House Rules Committee and might or might not make it to the full House, where a debate could prove interesting.

While some lawmakers might feel strongly about honoring Obama, others are sure to question the timing and value of another state holiday when Illinois is without a budget, deeply in short- and long-term debt, and without a contract with its largest employee unions.