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Edgar, Ives respond to Rauner criticism

Thursday, Jan 10, 2019

* Remember this quote from Gov. Rauner the other day when asked about criticism from former Gov. Jim Edgar?

That said, if you’re gonna be a moderate to win elections, but you’re not going to be a reformer and fix the problems, what’s the point of winning? And, in Illinois, Republicans have won, in the 80s and 90s, but then they did the same bad stuff that the Democrats did. Kick the can on pension payments, don’t reform the system, raise taxes with no reforms, over-regulate businesses. If you’re gonna moderate to win and then do the same thing that the guy or gal that you were running against would do, what’s the point?

He also had some things to say about former Rep. Jeanne Ives.

* Bernie followed up with both

“Governor Rauner lost the support of both Jim Edgar and me during his tenure as governor,” [Ives] said via email. “In what direction should the ILGOP head? Opposite Bruce Rauner.” […]

“We weren’t perfect,” said Edgar, who was governor from 1991-1999. “I do think, though, at the end of the ’90s, we had … a billion and a half dollar surplus, pensions were funded at the highest level they’ve ever been … we paid our bills off within 30 days, unemployment in Illinois was below the national average, which was a very unusual thing in Illinois. … It wasn’t perfect, but far better than it is today.”

He also said he doesn’t think “anybody ever accused me of rolling over to the Democrats” as governor, and while he had battles with House Speaker MICHAEL MADIGAN, D-Chicago, “we would work things out.” […]

“I think [Rauner’s] approach on the budget was wrong and I think his kind of confrontation approach, I don’t think that gets much done, particularly when you don’t control things,” the former governor said, referring to the legislature dominated by Democrats.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

39 Comments
  1. - low level - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 10:29 am:

    Absolutely correct, Edgar certainly did NOT “roll over” for Democrats. Far from it. Anyone who was on a Democratic staff remembers how we had to work extra hard since he was so popular and his endorsement really MEANT something for our opponents.

    It conveyed trust and accountability. That is something big bucks cant buy w the public.


  2. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 10:32 am:

    Because Rauner accomplished so much after he won. Sheesh.


  3. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 10:32 am:

    Much respect for Gov. Edgar, and he’s been right about the current governor.

    “What’s the point of winning?”

    Desiring and being able to help millions of people as Chief Executive of an American state. For a four year period, the current governor has to be among the worst if not the worst governor in state history. It took decades for Illinois to get in its bad state. With the current governor and his refusal to work with opponents, the damage would have been much more severe in a much shorter time period.


  4. - Langhorne - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 10:35 am:

    ===if you’re gonna be a moderate to win elections, but you’re not going to be a reformer and fix the problems, what’s the point of winning?===

    Thats the rauner playbook exactly. No social agenda, not anti-union, etc…….until he was sworn in.


  5. - Jibba - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    So people moderate themselves to win, rather than truly believing that moderation is best? The only real reformer is an extremist?

    You failed because your reforms were deemed ineffective and out of step with mainstream views. Good riddance.


  6. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    Ives is completely irrelevant. No one cares.


  7. - Sue - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    Jim- it’s calledback ending. Had your pension reforms required truly adequate funding your so called surplus’s would have evaporated. As a participant in thT deal- we took what we could get in exchange for dismissing the litigation over funding. But the ramp is why we are where we are at Long with zero growth in State revenues for most of the last umpteen years


  8. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 10:41 am:

    Popularity and nostalgia aside, does no one think that Edgar’s Ramp contributed to the current pension mess?


  9. - Brendan - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 10:41 am:

    As a voter, I’m not even reading this drama. Pritzker is governor on Monday. Rauner lost for a reason. As far as I’m concerned his opinion doesn’t matter and hasn’t matter from the moment he became an obstructionist.


  10. - #1Anon - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 10:44 am:

    Edgar apparently meant to say “we had a surplus because I successfully kicked the pension can down the road when I was out of office and some schmuck had to deal with it.”


  11. - cover - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 10:44 am:

    = does no one think that Edgar’s Ramp contributed to the current pension mess? =

    Do you really think the pension funding would be any better if NOT for the Edgar ramp? The systems likely would be far worse funded, and might have had no assets remaining at all after the Great Recession.


  12. - City Zen - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 10:47 am:

    “a billion and a half dollar surplus”

    One governor’s surplus is another governor’s unfunded pension liability.


  13. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 10:48 am:

    –Popularity and nostalgia aside, does no one think that Edgar’s Ramp contributed to the current pension mess?–

    If you’re referring to unfunded liability, I’m pretty sure that blowing off ramp payments were the issue.


  14. - Blue Dog Dem - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 10:58 am:

    Sue. Your articulation on the Edgar years is why you earned the yearly award. Congrats. And i totally agree with your comments on Edgar .


  15. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 11:01 am:

    =But the ramp is why we are where we are at Long with zero growth in State revenues for most of the last umpteen years=

    =Popularity and nostalgia aside, does no one think that Edgar’s Ramp contributed to the current pension mess?=

    =One governor’s surplus is another governor’s unfunded pension liability.=

    What is lost on some is that it takes more than the governor to get things done. Edgar wasn’t King between 1990-1991.

    The “ramp” was the doable solution at the time. Right, wrong, or indifferent. Not funding the ramp was a problem. Not funding pensions consistently for the better part of the last century is the real problem. Maybe take that in for a second.

    Until Pat Quinn decided to make the full pension payment there was no budgetary crisis. For all of his failures Quinn tried to pay the bill and that was admirable (unless one one of the welcher class).

    The point Edgar was trying to make is that giving ultimatums isn’t effective Governing. Each branch of government has it’s authority and must be reckoned with. That is how representative democracies work. People like Rauner, Ives, and Skillicorn need to go back and take a high school government class.


  16. - City Zen - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 11:02 am:

    “a billion and a half dollar surplus”

    If that 1999 “surplus” were instead a 1999 pension payment, it would’ve knocked off around $6 billion from the pension liability.


  17. - Perrid - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 11:11 am:

    @Cover, looking at it from the perspective that the Ramp imposed a minimum payment, so no more skipping the pension payments, sure, it improved things. It didn’t do near enough, and I defy anyone to look at how backloaded it was and say that it was a responsible decision. It wasn’t, it was borrowing money from Edgar’s kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids.


  18. - Norseman - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 11:12 am:

    Good response from Edgar. I would have simply my response would have been:

    What baloney do you expect from a huge loser who is trying to justify his historical failure.


  19. - Norseman - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 11:15 am:

    Typed too quickly. Instead of “I would have simply my …” it should only have read “my response …”


  20. - Umbra - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    Jeanne Ives reminds me of one of those folks that walks around with a battery powered speaker/mic on wheels and shouts about the end of times.


  21. - Stuntman Bob's Brother - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 11:37 am:

    Edgar: “…at the end of the ’90s, we had … a billion and a half dollar surplus, pensions were funded at the highest level they’ve ever been … we paid our bills off within 30 days, unemployment in Illinois was below the national average, which was a very unusual thing in Illinois”.

    And I’m sure that Mrs. O’Leary felt the same way about Chicago before her cow kicked over that lantern.

    Even if you excuse the ramp, you can’t excuse the twenty years following as the problem was allowed to fester from a pimple to the gaping wound it is today. And we still allow the Legislative Leader who was present the whole time to remain in the henhouse. Lovely. At least he’s on our side.


  22. - wondering - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 11:37 am:

    I wonder where we would be had Quinn won…I think we would have been much better off today. Electing Rauner was a near fatal grab for the free lunch.


  23. - JS Mill - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 11:53 am:

    =Even if you excuse the ramp, you can’t excuse the twenty years following as the problem was allowed to fester from a pimple to the gaping wound it is today.=

    Since 1970 the percentage of funding versus liabilities has been about the same at around 40%. The amount in dollars is more but that is true with just about everything 1970 vs. 2019.

    The responsibility is on all of us that were willing to sacrifice low income tax as opposed to paying for the services we want.


  24. - Political Animal - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 1:06 pm:

    Jim Edgar claiming credit for good budget/pension numbers never gets old.

    Its easy to have surpluses and high funding ratios when you just kick the can and screw over all successive administrations for decades to come.

    Rauner is wrong on a lot of stuff, but Jim Edgar is about the last person anyone should listen to about public policy. His crimes did way more harm to our state than any of the Governor’s who ended up in jail.


  25. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 1:09 pm:

    ===“We weren’t perfect,” said Edgar, who was governor from 1991-1999. “I do think, though, at the end of the ’90s, we had … a billion and a half dollar surplus, pensions were funded at the highest level they’ve ever been … we paid our bills off within 30 days, unemployment in Illinois was below the national average, which was a very unusual thing in Illinois. … It wasn’t perfect, but far better than it is today.”===

    This…

    “It wasn’t perfect, but far better than it is today.”

    … and the Dems worked with Edgar to strive to make the perfect not be the enemy of the good.

    Oh… that pesky Edgar Ramp.

    Was(were) the payment(s) made? All of them?


  26. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 1:10 pm:

    The ramp exacerbated the pension problem by allowing the politicians to pretend it was solved and therefore not worthy of their time or attention. Was Edgar the cause of all that followed? No. But he certainly knew the players well enough to know follow through on those escalated payments was a fairy tale.


  27. - low level - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 1:11 pm:

    And there would have been huge support for fully funding the pension system without the ramp. Legislators in all parties were really oppsed to the Edgar ramp because they wanted to meet that committment./s Right? Please


  28. - low level - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 1:12 pm:

    In other words, had it been front loaded, the sponsor would have joined the Century Club, if one could be found.


  29. - Political Animal - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 1:20 pm:

    The fact that they felt the need to backload it AND skip/reduce payments should tell the deluded pension defenders all they need to know.

    The benefits. Are not. Affordable.

    It doesn’t matter how you structure the payments or how you make the payments, until you change benefits the state will continue to come up with accounting games (like reamortization) to avoid making the unaffordable payments.


  30. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    “The benefits. Are not. Affordable.”

    What’s not affordable is millionaires and above paying a low state income tax. This has been happening for decades.


  31. - Thomas Paine - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 1:46 pm:

    Egdar is correct but his critics here are not completely wrong, just a little misplaced.

    As he points out, Illinois pensions werecat record funding levels when he left office. Thanks largely to the tech boom that burst when he left office. That said, He probably got the best deal that he could for pension funding that he could. Not all of that revenue growthvwas gonna go to the pension system.

    How do we know? as soon as Ryan was elected, he announced 51% of new revenue would go to K-12 education. The idea was so overwhelmingly popular that I dont recall any objection. Certainly nobody who said “Put that in pensions instead. to this day, I think every governor has continued the practice of allocating 51% of new money to education.

    The other big thing we did back in 1999 was create a rainy day fund, at the behest of Dan Hynes. Also not a bad idea to do with your surplus.

    Anyone who wants to argue Edgar deserves 3 1/2 or 4 stars instead of 5 because the ramp was an imperfect solution, okay. But it was still progress. And that’s what governing is.


  32. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 1:59 pm:

    ==until you change benefits==

    You can do that already. They did it with Tier II. And if you want to do it again you can. But, you cannot change current benefits. That’s been litigated and was made crystal clear by the Supreme Court. Whining about it doesn’t change the facts.


  33. - City Zen - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 2:02 pm:

    “We weren’t perfect”

    Not sure if this nugget was gleaned from wronged-spousal movies on the Lifetime Network or bad candidate interviews from the 1990’s.

    ==The benefits. Are not. Affordable.==

    They don’t call it a liability for nothing.


  34. - Sue - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 3:00 pm:

    Edgar only spent like 10 percent of all State Revenue in the early ramp years. Now due to the increased number of beneficiaries, salary increase and the 3 percent annual bump- along with dismal revenue growth-, the cost is approaching 30 percent. That’s not sustainable absent every other State program getting cut. If we are going to pay the pensions at current levels- why can’t the Dems be honest and acknowledge everyone is going to get cuts and call it a day. Taxes won’t be enough so let’s find places to reduce expenditures. 15 years ago the Ex Director at TRS told me one day everyone in Illinois would essentially be working for TRS beneficiaries- he wasn’t wrong


  35. - City Zen - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 4:18 pm:

    “unemployment in Illinois was below the national average, which was a very unusual thing in Illinois.”

    So what was the secret, Jim? What did you do differently that resulted in this rare feat? Don’t leave us hanging.


  36. - Thomas Paine - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 4:48 pm:

    @Sue -

    Edgar was only spending 10 percent of revenue because back then our pension funding was at record high levels.

    When your pension fund is relatively well-funded and your K-12 system is relatively poorly funded, you do at the time what lawmakers did at the time. We probably should have seen a slow down in the tech economy, but i do not think anyone expected the dot.com bubble to burst quite like it did. We certainly did not see 9/11 coming. Or the banking collapse of 2008.

    It is important to recognize that difficult choices lie ahead. But they are not now and have never been the choices of one political party or the other. operating within a partisan framework has never been in our best long-term interests.


  37. - Sue - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 4:54 pm:

    Thomas- WRONG- Edger spent 10 percent because of the ramp. In 94/95 pensions were funded in the mid 40 percent prompting a class action on funding which is what led to the Edgar ramp deal. Pension funding moved up slightly with the market peaking in 99/2000 then ran into the tech crash


  38. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 8:28 pm:

    Oh how I already miss AA if this is the future of pension discussions around here


  39. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Jan 10, 19 @ 8:58 pm:

    ===Oh how I already miss AA if this is the future of pension discussions around here===

    I didn’t want to break that seal… especially today.

    “AA”… Gonna be missed.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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