New blood, new ideas needed
State Sen. Kirk Dillard's response to a former state employee from Gov. Jim Edgar's administration notes his service as Edgar's appointed Chief of Staff. He reminded us that Edgar inherited a billion dollar deficit and left office with a $1.5 billion surplus.
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Edgar was a state representative in 1976, appointed Jim Thompson's legislative liaison in 1979 and then secretary of state in 1981, where he served for a decade. In 1990 he became governor. All these political jobs came with public pensions.
Today, Edgar is a fellow of the Institute of Government & Public Affairs at U of I in Champaign. IGPA's 2012 report on public pension reform notes, "Illinois ranks 50th among the fifty states when it comes to adequately financing of public pensions." They opined, "No other aspect of pension reform is as important as the amortization of unfunded liabilities and a guarantee by the state to make required pension payments on time going forward."
Ironically, as governor, Edgar ordered $21 million transferred from the state-pension fund to the general-revenue fund. Then Comptroller Dawn Netsch said, "the state's five pension funds are under financed by about $10.5 billion." She complained, "We have effectively been stealing from our pension funds only by underfunding ..." Could it be Edgar's surplus came from underfunding public pensions?
Dillard has been involved in Illinois' politics since Edgar's days and, obviously, still has ambitions. Since the pension problems existed all this time he has moved from one political office to another, maybe it is time for him to find other work.
Illinois' politics are toxic. Republican and Democratic administrations seem trapped in a power vortex with no apparent will to change direction. Illinois needs new blood and new ideas.