January 14, 1991 – January 11, 1999
January 12, 1981 – January 14, 1991
|Member of the |
James Edgar (born July 22, 1946) is an American politician who was the
During his second term, the relationship between his re-election campaign and Management Systems of Illinois (MSI) came under federal scrutiny. MSI, Edgar's largest campaign contributor, was granted a contract that cost an estimated $20 million in overcharges. Eventually, a number of both private citizens and state employees were convicted in federal court. Edgar was never accused of wrongdoing, but he testified twice, once in court and once by videotape, becoming the first sitting Illinois governor to take the witness stand in a criminal case in 75 years. In those appearances, the governor insisted political donations played no role in who received state contracts.
Prior to 1981, the State of Illinois funded pensions on an "as-you-go" basis, making benefit payouts as they came due, with employee contributions and investment income funding a reserve to cover future payouts. This approach was stopped in 1982 due to strains on the Illinois budget, and state contributions remained flat between 1982 and 1995, resulting in underfunding of pensions by approximately $20 billion. To address this shortfall, the Illinois General Assembly enacted a phased-in gradual increase in the State's contribution to the State's pensions over an initial 15 year period, with provision for the State contributing a level percentage of state payroll to pensions to achieve a 90 percent funded ratio by the year 2045. Unfortunately, the underfunding of pension reserves over the first fifteen years was not fiscally sound, and was the major cause of a large gap between the State's obligations to pay pension benefits and the funds available to pay those benefits. As Governor, Edgar signed the pension legislation into law, and for this reason, the initial underfunding of pensions became known as the "Edgar Ramp." The US Federal Securities and Exchange Commission described this analysis in a report.
In the spring of 2016, Edgar said publicly that he believes Governor Bruce Rauner should sign the Democratic budget and support the Democratic pension plan. Edgar pushed for a pension bill to save $15 billion back in 1994. "We had a time bomb in our retirement system that was going to go off in the first part of the 21st century," Edgar told The State Journal Register in 1994. "This legislation defuses that time bomb." The legislature passed Edgar's bill unanimously.
In July 2016, the Chicago Sun-Times Illinois Financing Partners, a firm for which Edgar served as chairman, won approval by the state to advance money to state vendors who had been waiting for payments by the state. In turn, the firm would get to keep late payment fees when Illinois finally pays.