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Former Governor Edgar bragged about increasing state pension benefits when he left office - Updated - Quicktake

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Here’s a bit of history to keep in mind when you see former Governor Jim Edgar pontificating about our fiscal and pension problems.

When an Illinois governor leaves office, he’s supposed to submit a report to the General Assembly on the state’s condition and make any needed recommendations.

Edgar did so by preparing a book called book “Meeting the Challenge” which recounted his 1991-1999 term as governor. It’s described in a 2012 State Journal-Register article linked here.

“The governor approved the most significant increase in pension benefits for state workers in a quarter century.,” Edgar wrote. “A concerted effort was made to improve state employee benefits and make a career in government service more attractive.”

The book also noted Edgar agreed to other improvements, like adding vision and dental coverage and long-term care insurance, according to the Journal-Register.

As for the “Edgar Ramp,” it was central to the finding by the Securities & Exchange Commission that Illinois misled investors in connection with bond sales after Edgar left office. The Edgar Ramp was unworkable, the SEC basically said, and Illinois should have told bond buyers. The fraudulent nondisclosure was not Edgar’s fault, but the relevance of the Edgar Ramp to the fraud finding and the state’s financial mess is clear.

Former Governor Jim Edgar, sharing his views on budget recently with NPR

With his party in control of both houses of the General Assembly during much of his term, and an economy “like a rocket in flight,” as described by a counterpart governor at the time, Pete Wilson in California, Edgar had the stars aligned to sensibly fix the pension system. He did the opposite.

Today, he’s often asked for his wisdom on how to fix our problems. Listen to his answers. There’s nothing of substance there. Just milquetoast platitudes like “we need strong leadership” and “we’ll just have to pay the pensions.”

Edgar’s pension started at age 55. It’s $161,000 today.

And we don’t know how much he has made with his aims to “cash in on the state’s cash woes,” as the Chicago Sun-Times put it. He’s Chairman of the Board of Illinois Financing Partners. They make money by buying bills owed by the state and keeping the late-payment fees when the state finally pays up, according to the Sun-Times.

Kinda like feasting on your own cooking.

Updated 5/16/18 to add the last two paragraphs.

Mark Glennon is founder and Executive Editor of Wirepoints.

 

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Bob

I consider Jim Edgar to be one of our best BUT to claim pension prowess is a stretch. The “can kicking” to solve “can kicking” is well documented. He also transferred $21 million from a fund earmarked for state employee pensions into the General Revenue Fund. Some elected officials could be well served to follow the example of Herbert Hoover, John Kennedy, and Donald Trump (no not THOSE examples) and donate their $ when they don’t need it. Since I paid into Social Security since 1968 (pumping gas & painting houses in the summer) but cna’t under the Gov Offset… Read more »

Mike

I don’t mean to quibble but republicans didn’t control both houses for much of Edgar’s term. They controlled both houses for 2 years, the democrats controlled both houses for 2 years, and then the other 4 years of Edgar’s term had the democrats controlling the house and the republicans controlling the senate. One thing I won’t quibble about is the damage the Edgar ramp has done to the pension system. Also the cost of living increases that began under Thompson haven’t helped either. At the state level the blame can be spread evenly between democrats and republicans. As for the… Read more »

Mike

Well I guess I’ll use a more unique name since someone else posts as Mike sometimes.

Mike

I’ll change my posting name since you were here first.

Bob

One state, two teacher’s systems – very telling!

world with end

“We’ll just have to pay the pensions” (or move out of state, of course).

Erik

The idea that “we’ll just have to pay the pensions” directly correlates to whether or not you’re being paid one of these obscene pensions.

nixit

If Edgar had made full pension payments (straight line) instead of his measly ramp payments, what would Edgar’s so-called balanced budgets have looked like? Not balanced. And it was under Edgar that the state began picking up the employEE pension contributions, which lasted many years.

What a loser. It’s was easy to cave to public unions and of course he feathered his own nest. We MUST get politicians out of the pension business. How do we do this? Form a taxpayers union?