Governor’s Woes Strain Trust

Published January 1, 2006

The sketchiness of Illinois’ “All Kids” legislation and the way it was rushed through during the legislature’s brief veto session were major complaints of opponents.

“We need to ask ourselves, ‘What’s the hurry?'” said Sen. Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora). “If this is such a good idea, it will stand the close scrutiny of deliberate review. Incredibly, payment details and the promised commitment to managed care are not in the legislation that the General Assembly is voting on. We are supposed to trust a governor who has doubled the state debt, raided the state pensions, and disappointed reformers to whom he promised to ‘change the way state government does business.'”

Plagued By Investigations

Lauzen’s references to trust and disappointment came in response to federal and state criminal investigations involving Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s (D) administration. Federal subpoenas seeking hiring records were served to the governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services on the day the All Kids legislation passed, the third set of federal subpoenas to hit the governor’s office in recent weeks.

In September a guilty plea by Chicago attorney Joseph Cari to a charge of attempting to extort $850,000 from an investment firm seeking business from the state’s teachers’ pension fund implicated Blagojevich. Cari said in the guilty plea he was one of several persons involved in a kickback and extortion scheme to benefit the political campaign of “Public Official A.” Several news organizations soon identified Public Official A as Blagojevich. (See “Ill. Governor Implicated in Pension Probe,” Budget & Tax News, October 2005,

State Senators See Flaws

Illinois State Senate Republicans pointed out in a statement that, although they recognize the benefits of giving children access to health care, the All Kids proposal has several flaws to consider, including:

  • The governor’s dismal track record of implementing new programs, including the book-of-the-month club, I-Save RX Program, Illinois Rx Buying Club, and purchase of flu vaccines from Europe.
  • The fact that All Kids is taxpayer-subsidized Medicaid expansion. The plan expands an already overburdened, under-financed, unstable state Medicaid system.
  • The few restrictions on All Kids. Parents can participate in the program regardless of income, assets, or U.S. citizenship.
  • The threat of businesses dropping their current, private employee health plans.
  • The details of the plan are left to the whim of administrative rule, not law.

Sens. Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and Dave Syverson (R-Rockford), who spoke at a state capitol news conference in October, have forwarded their concerns to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for review.

— Steve Stanek