The Unindicted One has spoken.
Former Gov. Jim Edgar is none to happy with the current occupant of the Executive Mansion.
He thinks it’s time for fellow Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to capitulate to Mike Madigan and quit holding out for fundamental reforms in exchange for a budget deal.
First, let me say, I like Jim Edgar.
He managed to serve eight years as the state’s chief executive and not get indicted. That, in Illinois, is a miracle.
And, like me, he’s a downstater and a teetotaler.
I like this guy.
I’d love to sit down with him at Springfield’s MCL Cafeteria and eat lima beans and Swiss steak and talk politics. After all, he’s an interesting fellow.
But during his time in office, Edgar was far too willing to compromise.
And Madigan played him for a fool.
The crowning achievement of Edgar’s time in office was the so-called Edgar Ramp, which was touted as a cure-all for the state’s pension woes.
It wasn’t. It isn’t. And it never will be.
It simply delayed the state’s Day of Reckoning.
In fact, it made things worse.
Back in the 1990s the state’s finances were a mess. Pensions were underfunded in part because annual payments had been skipped and the money spent on other things.
For months, Edgar, legislative leaders and union bosses hashed out how to “solve” this predicament.
And they gave birth to a rat.
In a nutshell, the grand compromise Edgar championed called for having low annual pension payments while he was in office and higher ones when future governors were in office.
He kicked the can down the road. He made his problem that of future governors.
The ramp also failed to fundamentally reform the pension system.
So future lawmakers — and governors — were able to skip payments when they were faced with those extra-high amounts Edgar dumped on them.
So, when Rauner entered office this year, the state had the worst funded pensions in the nation.
This massive pension debt precipitated a crisis that has many Democrats in the Legislature squawking for a tax hike.
Rauner has said he won’t agree to a tax hike unless fundamental reforms are first put in place to make lawmakers more accountable to voters, diminish the power of long-time legislative leaders and improve the state’s business climate.
Madigan and Co. has dug in its heels and refused to compromise.
Rauner isn’t budging either, and the state has gone four months without a budget.
Now Edgar wants Rauner to give in.
But gee, Jim, how well did your compromises work out?
Haven’t they contributed to the mess the state now finds itself in?
Scott Reeder is a columnist with Illinois News Network, a project of the Illinois Policy Institute.
Follow Scott Reeder on Twitter at: @scottreeder
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