A taxpayer advocacy groups said former Gov. Jim Edgar is playing the blame game concerning the effects of a several-decades-long pension contribution ramp-up that the Republican enacted before leaving office.
Edgar, who left office in 1999, said this week that his successors didn’t follow through with the plan.
“When we put that in place, this was a very positive step for Illinois, and if we stayed on track, I think we’d be in better shape than we are today.”
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Edgar said the ramp isn’t the issue.
“We did an early retirement; we did a holiday on paying into the pension funds,” Edgar said. “There are some things that we could have done differently, and I think we would have stayed on track.”
Edgar also blamed the stock market.
Taxpayers United of America Executive Director Jared Labell said that’s a cop-out and that Edgar is ducking responsibility.
“You can blame the market all you want, but to put it on the back of taxpayers at the end of the day is absolutely terrible.”
“I think this is another blame game you see by politicians played very frequently,” Labell said. “They enact legislation that has questionable merits and then they blame their (successors) for the failings instead of themselves.”
Labell said Edgar has collected in excess of $1.8 million in pension payments and is expected to draw more than $4.5 million in benefits from the short-changed funds when he only contributed approximately $160,000.
The state’s pension systems collectively have an unfunded liability of more than $111 billion and growing.