TOPEKA — Sen. Randall Hardy made a personal pitch in support of a special state tax credit to support fundraising for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene.
Hardy, serving a district that includes the hometown of the late 34th president and five-star general, recalled for Senate colleagues a 1945 speech in which Eisenhower shared how proud he was to claim Abilene as home.
“Think about that for a moment,” Hardy said. “General Eisenhower had literally just saved the world from unspeakable tyranny.”
Under the Senate bill unanimously sent to the House, the state would establish a 50% income tax credit for individuals and businesses making contributions to the Eisenhower Foundation. The credit would be available for five years ending in 2025 and the tax benefit would be capped at $350,000 annually.
A handful of Eisenhower family members observed Senate debate Thursday from the chamber’s gallery.
The one-time cost to the state of implementing the tax break is estimated at $110,000, said Sen. Dan Goddard, R-Parsons. He said last year’s projection of cost to the state of $500,000 was inaccurate and caused unnecessary heartburn for lawmakers.
“It’s good legislation. It makes sense. We’re proud to have him as a Kansan and we should take care of this facility,” said Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker.
Hardy, a Salina Republican, said a recent campaign to generate contributions to the Eisenhower exhibits, programs and community events brought in $9 million. New exhibit spaces opened in August.
“It was not easy to raise the private money. Why?” he said. “The most common question donors asked in the campaign was: What is the state of Kansas doing to support the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum? Donors were looking for support from the state.”
Sen. Eric Rucker, R-Topeka, said his relatives moved to Dickenson County in the 1850s. He was present in 1969 when Eisenhower’s body was laid to rest in Abilene and recalled attending the 1962 dedication of the Eisenhower library and seeing the president in person.
“I remember the excitement everybody experienced,” Rucker said.