States Pause to Remember Ronald Reagan
By Colin Quinn, Special to Stateline; Jessica Kitchin, Special to Stateline
At least 30 governors are expected to travel to the nation's capital. Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) set off a brief panic on his arrival Wednesday when his state plane entered restricted airspace and triggered a brief evacuation of the Capitol, shortly before Reagan's cortege arrived.
The following states, along with the federal government, are closing their offices Friday in honor of Reagan: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Texas and Wyoming. State employees in Hawaii already were scheduled to be off for a state holiday. Wisconsin's General Assembly will be closed, but other state offices and agencies will be open.
Local newspapers report that the cost of closing most state offices Friday can be expensive. In California, the price tag is estimated to be nearly $60 million, New York's cost is reported to be $40 million, and Missouri's bill may reach $10 million.
Some states are allowing employees a more lenient attendance policy for Friday. In others, certain offices can choose to remain open in spite of a state's declaration. For example, Gov. Mitt Romney (R) of Massachusetts called for state offices and agencies to close on Friday, yet the Legislature, state courts and Boston government will remain open.
While many governors plan to attend Friday's service at the National Cathedral, others, such as Gov. Bob Holden (D) of Missouri, are sending representatives.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) of Reagan's home state of Illinois will not be able to attend the funeral because of budget meetings. But he has named a portion of Interstate 88 "The Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway," and he spoke at a ceremony in Reagan's hometown of Dixon, Ill., on Thursday. Indiana's Statehouse will host a photo exhibit documenting Reagan's visits to the state. Other states also have assembled books of remembrance.
The National Governors Association in Washington, D.C., issued a statement on the passing of Reagan, governor of California from 1967 to 1975 and one of its former members.
Regardless of plans to interrupt official business, most states are paying tribute to Reagan by lowering flags to half-staff. New Hampshire and North Carolina are among those holding ceremonies on Friday.
Reagan, who served as president from 1981-1989, died in California on Saturday at the age of 93. After lying in repose at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., and in state at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Reagan's body is to be moved in a procession to the National Cathedral on Friday for a service at 11:30 a.m. Burial will take place Friday evening in Simi Valley.