April 29, 2013

Gubernatorial candidate Kirk Dillard takes credit for benefits of Clinton 90's economic boom and cheating state workers

I noticed Reboot Illinois promoting this recent quote by Republican candidate for Governor Kirk Dillard.

"When I worked as Gov. Jim Edgar's chief of staff, we turned a $1 billion deficit into a $1.5 billion surplus, all without an income tax increase."

That got on my nerves. I guess the implication is that another Governor like Edgar could have balanced the current state budget without tax increases.

Let's recall that Edgar served as Governor from 1991-1999. He entered office during a recession and governed during the Clinton economic boom of the 90's. The recession decreased state revenue when Edgar first entered office. As the economy improved, tax revenues increased.

Of course Edgar balanced the budget and increased revenue! A monkey could have had a state budget surplus in the 90's. Let's also remember that the economy improved after Clinton raised taxes on the rich and increased the minimum wage; policies most Republicans oppose.

I'd like to hear more if Dillard is writing a thank you note to Bill Clinton. Otherwise, I'd like him to talk about things that were more directly under his control. For example, Edgar's decision to underfund the state pension system. It's not nice to brag about a budget surplus when you achieved it by screwing the state workforce.

I'd also like to hear about Dillard's management of the state bureaucracy.  Not even George Ryan was brazen enough to openly defend the benefits of patronage hiring, as Jim Edgar did. Witnesses in the Ryan trial testified they were continuing the same practices that existed when Edgar was Secretary of State. Anyone from Springfield knows many stories about how the corrupt patronage system operated while Edgar was Governor. I'd like to know Dillard's role and if that's the kind of governing style he would bring back.

Hopefully, Dillard will talk about that issue as soon as he's done taking credit for the Clinton economy and bragging about shortchanging the pensions of public employees.