I write about a letter (Fence Post, Jan. 21) written by a disgruntled former state employee from the Gov. Jim Edgar administration.
As his former chief of staff, I will say this about Gov. Edgar. He was an excellent governor and leader who inherited a billion-dollar deficit in a recession and "downsized" Illinois government. When Edgar left office he did so with a $1.5 billion surplus in the state treasury. Importantly, the state income tax was the same the day Edgar got elected as the day he left office.
The letter writer criticized me for working with then-freshman state Sen. Barack Obama on sweeping ethics reforms for Illinois in 1998. And, "the result, according to good-government groups, was the most ambitious campaign reform in nearly 25 years, making Illinois one of the best in the nation on campaign finance disclosure, " according to a Washington Post story, published Feb. 9, 2007. I have long championed for groups like the Campaign for Political Reform. Indeed, it was former U.S. Senator Paul Simon and Edgar's former Press Secretary Mike Lawrence who drove Obama and myself to embrace the legislation, which flew out of the House and Senate with wide support from both parties.
More recently I worked with Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, who urged her caucus to voluntarily stop the controversial legislative scholarships to statewide universities. We worked with Gov. Pat Quinn to abolish this perk. To fight corruption in Springfield, I sponsored legislation blocked by Democrat leaders that would have instituted the reforms of former assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins, who prosecuted former Gov. George Ryan.
Finally, contrary to the views of the "ax-to-grind" letter writer, anytime a Democrat works with me on a Republican principle such as ethics, I may not "endorse" them but I will commend them.
State Sen. Kirk W. Dillard