SPRINGFIELD — Federal securities regulators implicitly blamed former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his budget office for the fraudulent manner in which state bond investors were misled about Illinois’ sickly pension ledgers.
But in making a nearly unprecedented case of securities fraud against the state, the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday laid bare a trail of responsibility for Illinois’ nearly $100 billion pension crisis that extends far beyond the impeached ex-governor’s scandalous time in office.
Those who helped get Illinois to where it is today with pensions include former Gov. Jim Edgar; House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), a Statehouse constant during the state’s calamitous pension slide; and everyone who voted for either a flawed, 1994 pension-funding law Edgar and Madigan championed, including three potential GOP contenders for governor in 2014, or a 2005 law that let the state skimp on its pension obligations for five years.
Even the public-sector labor unions whose members have the most to lose if the pension systems go belly-up bear some culpability. Unions like AFSCME Council 31, the Illinois Education Association and Illinois Federation of Teachers didn’t protest the 1994 law. In 2005, both teachers unions supported the legislation cutting pension payments, state records show. More…