“I (expletive) busted my ass and pissed people off and gave your grandmother a free (expletive) ride on a bus.OK? I gave your (expletive) baby a chance to have health care. And what do I get for that? Only 13 percent of you all out there think I’m doing a good job. So (expletive) all of you.” – Rod Blagojevich, federal wiretap from November 2008
Rod Blagojevich’s tenure as governor of Illinois will have a lasting effect on the state’s reputation and scal condition. From January 2003 to January 2009, Blagojevich made headlines for his sensational comments, political feuds and backroom deals. After being arrested in December 2008 on charges of political corruption, the Legislature removed him from ofce the follow-ing month. He since has been convicted on federal criminal charges.Blagojevich was a master at pairing populist rhetoric with new programs directed toward his core constituencies. That mastery,however, was confounded by incredible lapses of judgment and public grandstanding that bafed both voters and politicians.Programs such as free bus rides for seniors and free health care for children beg the question: Did he target seniors and childrenbecause it was politically expedient, or because he truly believed in these programs? In promoting new programs, did he think he was more powerful than the federal courts and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or was he really a social entrepreneur with great resolve? Was he was a narcissist obsessed with reaching the White House, or a great man of the people? These arequestions Illinoisans still are trying to answer. What is fact, however, is that to pursue his highly visible programs and agendas, Blagojevich needed money. He found it by di- verting billions from the state’s pension system. By taking “holidays” from required pension system contributions and by nearly doubling Illinois’s debt, he burdened future generations to support favored groups in the present.Offered in this report are 10 programs, policies and issues that capture the essence of the Blagojevich administration. The rsttwo are structural issues, which had a signicant effect on the state’s nancial condition. The next four are signature programs,focused on Blagojevich’s core constituencies; these programs were not effective and overextended Illinois’s spending capabilities. The nal four are smaller initiatives that exemplify Blagojevich’s predilection to use taxpayer money to make political statementsrather than improve the lives of Illinoisans.
Blago vs. Illinois taxpayers
How the scal legacy of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is alive and well
is a senior budget and tax policy analyst for the Illinois Policy Institute.
the vice president of policy for the Illinois Policy Institute.