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Monday, Jan 25, 2021

* Sun-Times

Navigating the “pros and the cons of the Madigan legacy” could be the greatest challenge, said Chris Mooney, a professor of state politics at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Mooney views Welch’s Madigan-related challenges in two ways.

On the one hand, “people will hold Madigan up as the standard in terms of electoral success,” Mooney said.

Welch will be judged on how well he can emulate that political prowess — but escape “the negative side of Madigan, the toxic work environment of the Statehouse.

“I mean it’s been toxic for as long as I’ve been around and certainly long before that, and a lot of that is fueled by hyper partisanship,” the UIC professor said. “And a lot of it flowed from Mike Madigan’s personality — very close to the vest, very uptight, very, you know, very paranoid, you know, not friendly, he’s on everybody’s case.”

If he had created a toxic work environment for most of his members and was unfriendly to them and always on their case, he wouldn’t have been Speaker for a kabillion years. Just sayin…

The cartoon version of Mike Madigan will long outlive Mike Madigan.

* Meanwhile

Edgar said former Gov. Bruce Rauner, a fellow Republican whose stubbornness to compromise led to a two-year budget standoff with Madigan and other Democrats in the General Assembly, should shoulder more of the blame for the state’s latest budget problems. Those problems include a $3.9 billion shortfall in the current fiscal year.

And regarding Madigan’s role in the pension debt, Edgar said: “The pensions were screwed up before Mike Madigan and I came to Springfield. I don’t think he led the charge to make the pensions bad. … I don’t think you can blame him for it any more than anyone else in Springfield.”

When asked whether Madigan was corrupt, Edgar responded that he will be amazed if Madigan is indicted in the ComEd scandal.

“It depends on your definition of corruption,” Edgar said. “Did he do anything Illegal? … Madigan was always very careful.”

Keep in mind that Edgar has been out of power for 22 years.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

43 Comments
  1. - Wizzard of Ozzie - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:02 am:

    When was the last time Chris Mooney was around the legislature or actually talked to a real live member? Glad you posted this Rich. The reality is a majority of the Dem caucus supported the Speaker… even after all the ComEd indictments. As usual, Mooney has very little idea what he’s talking about.


  2. - Hippopotamus - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:02 am:

    Yes, the pensions were screwed up when they arrived and they each did very little to solve the problem. Sounds like Edgar is trying to rewrite history of the “pension ramp”.


  3. - City Zen - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:04 am:

    “It depends on your definition of corruption”

    Is that a statement from a former Illinois governor or Nathan Thurm? Hard to tell.


  4. - fs - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:06 am:

    == Edgar said: “The pensions were screwed up before Mike Madigan and I came to Springfield==

    “And then instead of fixing it, we decided it was better for us to kick the problem to the next generation, allowing it to snowball into an even bigger problem.”


  5. - Essential State Employee - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:08 am:

    “It depends on your definition of corruption”

    To me that sounds like a common household catchphrase that became popular in the last year of Edgar’s administration:

    “It depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is”


  6. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:12 am:

    No one who supported the previous governor and president has any room to criticize Madigan, let alone anyone else.


  7. - Al - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:16 am:

    Under Edgar the Teacher’s Retirement System had an early retirement program which was pretty popular over its six year life. Made lots of retired teachers enthusiastic about his re-elections. It was too sweet a deal for many to turn down.


  8. - Dotnonymous - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:20 am:

    Mike Madigan had His way…no doubt.


  9. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:24 am:

    ==“I mean it’s been toxic for as long as I’ve been around and certainly long before that, and a lot of that is fueled by hyper partisanship,” the UIC professor said. “And a lot of it flowed from Mike Madigan’s personality — very close to the vest, very uptight, very, you know, very paranoid, you know, not friendly, he’s on everybody’s case.”==

    Has Mooney literally studied anything outside of this state? We literally had congressmen trying to murder each other on the floor leading up to the Civil War. That sounds pretty “toxic” to me.


  10. - Arock - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:25 am:

    Grandson of the Man- that comment is just as ridiculous as Edgar saying “It depends on your definition of corruption”, Madigan did next to nothing to solve the pension problem in his decades as Speaker and as a member of the General Assembly. He owns the fiscal problems of the State and of the State’s pension and retiree healthcare system.


  11. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:30 am:

    To Edgar, first,

    === “It depends on your definition of corruption,” Edgar said. “Did he do anything Illegal? … Madigan was always very careful.”===

    This is accurate. The ethics of politics, what one might say is corrupt in politics, others might say is horse trading, or compromise, or leverage to a point or politic outside the issue.

    Edgar said the major point of honesty to corruption out loud; “bending the rules as far as you can without breaking them”, was how Avery Tolar looked at Tax Law (or evasion) in “The Firm”, kinda like how politics, the ugly that we don’t like to see, might be defined too.

    To Rauner, Edgar is right. Even “The Owl” told us his frustration but a short term budget stalemate was ok with The Owl, if it was leverage, so that blame is easily on Rauner for those two, and that third budget he wanted but refused to sign, budgets, a whole General Assembly.

    To the pensions? Edgar Ramp. Edgar is correct, the great work of Dave McKinney, Rich and his great knowledge shared, and don’t forget Daniel Vock and his look at pensions, budgets, it was so many to cook up the bad, and for so long, Madigan takes a great deal of the heat, (appropriately so) but the Edgar Ramp, pre and post ramp, things have been a mess for a long time, just read those I listed, and Edgar can’t deny the history.

    All said, I’m with Edgar, all day, every day, twice on Sunday, and looking at the words, and him being gone (checks above) twenty-two years, how many in the GA can honestly say they are an Edgar Republican, let alone Thompson Republican… even fewer could be a Topinka Republican… I’ll be watching Kinzinger how he navigates.

    Illinois requires an honest two-party governance, by its not given, it needs to be earned by finding voters, not angry marginalized monolithics, in one region of this state.


  12. - Pizza Man - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:34 am:

    Wow, Edgar comes off as protecting MJM’s image. Is MJM along with Edgar to blame for the beginning of the pension mess? Yes. Period. Whether Edgar has been in power last week, 10 years or 22 years ago.

    “We both enjoyed kicking the can as far as it goes.”


  13. - Chicagonk - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:36 am:

    Pensions might have been screwed up before Edgar and Madigan, but they certainly both made the situation worse.


  14. - Masker - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:41 am:

    Is he to blame for pension no but he did pass bills which made it worse and he never called a bill to improve it except for the failed sb1 bill…


  15. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:44 am:

    I realize Edgar is about the only Republican state wide politician around that anyone can got to for a Republican comment. Unfortunately IMHO this is due more to attrition than to political genius. Thompson, Topinka are dead. Ryan probably could give great political insight but not someone to drag out when talking corruption. So that leaves Edgar a person not so great as he thinks he is but probably someone who knows state corruption and how it is excused


  16. - Anyone Remember - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:46 am:

    “… Madigan did next to nothing to solve the pension problem in his decades as Speaker … .”

    Wrong. The FY 1986 budgets (individual agency bills then) as passed by the General Assembly contained what was considered “full funding” for pensions. Jim Thompson vetoed all the appropriations to 60% of “full funding” and Pate Philip and Lee Daniels refused to vote for an override. Those budgets were passed by Phil Rock and … wait for it … Mike Madigan.


  17. - JS Mill - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:50 am:

    Edgar has been out of office for 22 years, but he has not been out of touch during that time.

    = Is MJM along with Edgar to blame for the beginning of the pension mess? Yes. Period.=

    So they were both in office back in the 1920’s? I know MJM is old but not immortal old. The problem has existed for a century. Do some research.

    In 1970 the pensions were about 40% funded. Fast forward to 2020 and guess what? About 40% funded.The problem didn’t get any better, but placing all of the blame on one or two people is exactly what the myriad other people just as responsible for the problem would like you. to do.


  18. - Roman - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:54 am:

    That’s some real out-of-touch, cliche analysis from Moody. Almost John Kass-like. Moody can, and has, done better.


  19. - Flyin' Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:54 am:

    “Madigan did next to nothing to solve the pension crisis”

    Yes, the bills required to raise taxes and reduce spending, i.e. closing state facilites and severely limiting services, would have gotten overwhelming bi-partisan support.


  20. - Third Reading - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:54 am:

    Edgar comes off as intolerant of media laziness.
    That interview is like an old Gov. Edgar media availability called primarily so he could tell reporters what they got wrong and that the issue is a lot more complex than their reporting.


  21. - Flyin' Elvis'-Utah Chapter - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 10:59 am:

    If there is a politician who got more public support, while actually accomplishing very little, than St. James of Edgar, I’d like to know who they were.


  22. - Masker - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 11:00 am:

    In 1970 the pensions were about 40% funded. Fast forward to 2020 and guess what? About 40% funded.The problem didn’t get any better, but placing all of the blame on one or two people is exactly what the myriad other people just as responsible for the problem would like you. to do.

    True but less than 20 years ago they were over 70% and dropping ever since ..


  23. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 11:03 am:

    @flying Elvis. How true. I remember when Edgar said he was going to retire I figured he would not know a difference between him working and him retiring


  24. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 11:04 am:

    Edgar is a good person. Edgar would have never brought the state to its knees and caused more per capita fiscal and human damage than any politician in state history, purposely to bust unions. Rauner supporters have no validity to criticize anyone.


  25. - Whatever - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 11:04 am:

    My response to critics of the Edgar pension ramp is “How much worse would things be if it had never been enacted?” The ramp at least gave each session a benchmark that they were supposed to enact in order to eventually dig us out of the pension shortfall, but they often failed to do so. We would be better off now if the ramp had been followed.


  26. - Suburban Cook County Gal - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 11:09 am:

    -Wow, Edgar comes off as protecting MJM’s image-

    There’s not much difference ideologically from Jim Edgar and Mike Madigan. The Jim Edgar types have much responsibility for Illinois’ fiscal condition. At least Mike Madigan was at least more honest about things.


  27. - JB13 - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 11:19 am:

    “Did he do anything illegal?”

    And there it is. The question that encapsulates everything wrong with Illinois politics and government.

    By this time next week, Madigan will just be a poor, misunderstood saint, who only did what he did because he loved Illinois so very much.

    There are not enough eyeroll emojis for this pablum.


  28. - City Zen - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 11:22 am:

    ==In 1970 the pensions were about 40% funded.==

    The good ole days of 2% simple COLA, no 2.2 service multiplier, favorable active-to-retiree ratios, high inflation, pay-as-you-go pension funding.

    That we pump exponentially more money into the pension systems today and are in the same boat should set off an alarm somewhere.


  29. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 11:24 am:

    === “Did he do anything illegal?”

    And there it is. The question that encapsulates everything wrong with Illinois politics and government.===

    Is horse trading something you don’t like?

    Is compromise so bad that someone, of either party, should worry about being primaried?

    Is loyalty within a caucus, and discipline, is that illegal too?

    Heck, between Rauner trying to expel all those not willing to agree to his agenda or a friend of labor… and Trumpkins overrunning a party that truth is “gray” not fact, what are we really talking about?

    With respect, the line of legality is a bright yellow warning to MJM, and as of me typing it, a target Madigan is, corrupt to be indicted, Madigan is not.


  30. - Charlie Wheeler - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 11:27 am:

    Point of Information

    Actually, Illinois governors and legislators have failed to put aside the actuarially-required funding for the pension systems for more than a century. See Eric Madiar’s “Illinois Public Pension Reform: What’s Past Is Prologue” at https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/iperr/94

    A major contributing factor to pension underfunding is the compounded 3 percent annual annuity increase for retired persons, which was signed into law by Gov. James R. Thompson in 1989.

    The most significant reform in recent years was creation of a “Tier 2” pension system for employees hired after December 31, 2010, which requires participants to work longer before vesting and provides reduced benefits upon retirement. (PA96-0889) Madigan was its chief House sponsor.

    Charlie Wheeler


  31. - RNUG - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 11:29 am:

    == The pensions were screwed up before Mike Madigan and I came to Springfield. ==

    That is a legitimate point. Back in the late 60’s the pensions we’re about 40% funded. That led to the Pension Clause being discussed at the 1969-1970 Con-Con and being included in the proposed 1970 Illinois Constitution revision. If I remember correctly, MJM was just getting started in politics and was one of many delegates to the Con-Con.


  32. - RNUG - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 11:37 am:

    == they certainly both made the situation worse ==

    Over their periods in office, the pension funding levels have fluctuated from a low of about 30% to over 90% funded. MJM and Edgar made some stabs at fixing the pension funding, but politics got in the way of a rock solid solution. The Edgar Ramp, while mis-structured, was better than previous attempts since 1974. And don’t forget the ramp, with Blago’s cooperation, was restructured which just made things worse.


  33. - RNUG - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 11:42 am:

    == Is MJM along with Edgar to blame for the beginning of the pension mess? ==

    Nope. The mess existed before them. But the beginning of the current mess was actually the FY75 budget proposed by Dan Walker which shorted the pension funds for the first time after the flat income tax and 1970 Constitution was enacted. That led to the 1975 IL SC decision that allowed the Legislature to underfund the pensions.


  34. - facts matter - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 12:00 pm:

    == “It depends on your definition of corruption,” Edgar said. ==

    Lots of criticism for this comment, but it’s actually a point that needs to be made in this discussion. We toss around the word corruption all the time and often use it when referring to conduct that may be unseemly but it not illegal. Most of the things that the GOP has labeled as corrupt aren’t actually illegal or technically corrupt. For example logrolling isn’t illegal, but some view it as a part of corruption.


  35. - facts matter - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 12:02 pm:

    == “Madigan did next to nothing to solve the pension crisis” ==

    Do you remember the years spent putting together the pension bill that was passed but struck down by the Illinois Supreme Court? You can’t say he did nothing when he went against his biggest allies to pass a bill that reformed pension.


  36. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 12:06 pm:

    There is nothing better than a post titled “Ask an Expert” and with no snark Charlie Wheeler giving some historic context… citing both a major injury to pensions, and a reform to better pensions… in full context within the partisan labeling too.

    Always grateful.


  37. - Sue - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 12:11 pm:

    The ramp was well intended. What Edgar and the legislature failed to foresee was the huge falloff in State revenues and population growth. No one contemplated that pensions would absorb 25 percent plus of all State revenue


  38. - JS Mill - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 12:16 pm:

    =True but less than 20 years ago they were over 70% and dropping ever since ..=

    Umm, no. If you are talking about CPS pensions maybe. All of the others…no.

    CPS wa over 100% before Richie Daley got control of CPS and began skipping payments.


  39. - JS Mill - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 12:22 pm:

    =The good ole days of 2% simple COLA, no 2.2 service multiplier, favorable active-to-retiree ratios, high inflation, pay-as-you-go pension funding.=

    2.2 is gone and it was paid for by members like me who were refunded when it was eliminated.

    =That we pump exponentially more money into the pension systems today and are in the same boat should set off an alarm somewhere.=

    That is the cost of debt. Pensions are actually cheaper now thanks to Tier 2. And they get cheaper every year, but the legacy debt grows.

    The debt is the issue. Pat Quinn started making the full payment after years of pension holidays and that started the most recent “crisis”.

    Fact.


  40. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 2:29 pm:

    I don’t know. It takes some real cognitive dissonance to be surprised if Madigan gets indicted. How would that be surprising? Madigan also created cartoon Madigan by deputizing cartoon people as his agents.


  41. - Third Reading - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 3:11 pm:

    Edgar’s pension ramp takes some deserved criticism but the scary part is that it was/is way better than the plan before it, which was nothing.

    It’s the whole 30/60 argument. You can only do what you can only do.


  42. - City Zen - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 5:21 pm:

    ==2.2 is gone==

    2.2 is still the service year multiplier for non SS employees and has been for over 20 years.

    ==Pensions are actually cheaper now thanks to Tier 2==

    According to the TRS CAFR, the Employer Normal Cost Rate for Tier 1 pension is now 13.85%, the highest it has ever been. Even when you factor in adding a decade’s worth of Tier 2 employees to the pension system, the total normal cost today is greater than it was at any point prior to Tier 2. That’s before the inevitable Tier 2 benefit enhancements.


  43. - Anyone Remember - Monday, Jan 25, 21 @ 8:07 pm:

    RNUG -
    Walker’s 1975 budget - did Filan have any input? His 2011 work history for DSI has no mention of the Walker years.


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