If I (Still) Ruled the State"¦

March 16, 2009

As you may have heard, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn is poised to propose a hike in the state's income tax rate on Wednesday during his budget address. Quinn is also expected to "cut, cut and cut" state spending, in an effort to close a budget deficit now estimated at $11.5-million. We decided to call on the handful of Illinoisians lucky enough to have had the job Quinn inherited from ousted former Governor Rod Blagojevich, and ask them what advice they would give Quinn as he prepares for his first budget message. We start with Blagojevich. His publicist didn't answer an interview request, but after news broke Friday that Quinn sought to raise taxes on some people, Blagojevich issued this statement, containing this quote:

"This is exactly what‚ I said was going to happen.‚  It is unconscionable that the new governor, Pat Quinn, wants to raise the income tax by 50% especially at a time when people are hurting and the economy is in shambles."

Next up would be Governor George Ryan, but he has bigger personal troubles at the moment. Ryan recently missed out on a request for commutation from former President George W. Bush, and remains imprisoned at a federal penitentiary in Indiana. So we turn to Jim Edgar, the two-term Republican who led Illinois through most of the 1990s. audio Edgar was preceded in the governor's mansion by "Big Jim" Thompson. He wasn't interested in playing the game. Thompson says when he was governor he "didn't appreciate unsolicited advice." audio But Dan Walker was up for it. Walker served as Illinois' governor for a single term in the mid-1970s. Now 86 years old -- and sounding much younger -- he agreed to chat via cell phone from Mexico, where he spends a lot of his time these days. audio Walker's comments on corruption might seem "off" to some. After all, he spent time behind bars himself for savings and loan fraud. But Walker's crimes were not connected to his public service. Anyways, Quinn's big speech is now just two days away. You can hear that live, at noon Wednesday, on WBEZ 91.5 FM, and at www.chicagopublicradio.org.