Rod Blagojevich's Legacy: Billions in Record Debt - FOX 32 News Chicago

Rod Blagojevich's Legacy: Billions in Record Debt


Tax revenues reached all-time record highs under Rod Blagojevich. The national economy was booming.

But he spent billions of dollars more than the state treasury could collect. So, when the crash of 2008 arrived, Illinois was so deep in the hole it ended up raising the state income tax.

FOX Chicago News asked the Illinois Policy Institute to look at the numbers. They said we'll all be paying for this part of the Blagojevich Legacy for a long time.

READ: Blagojevich vs. Illinois Taxpayers (PDF)

“The damage he's done financially is going to be paid off over the next 10 to 20, if not 30 years,” John Tillman said.

Tillman's Illinois Policy Institute estimated the state's public employee pension funds were shortchanged $10-$15 billion dollars during the Blagojevich years.

The General Assembly helped him do it. Three Republican governors before him did it, too. But none borrowed and spent like Blagojevich.

He doubled Illinois's bonded borrowing, doubled the amount of unpaid bills and spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a Medicaid expansion the General Assembly refused to authorize.

These are all big reasons the Illinois income tax was raised this year.

“He has cemented Illinois as the poster child for corruption and insider deal-making at the expense of average citizens,” Tillman said.

The former governor publicly refused to accept any blame for the financial mess he left in Springfield - similar to what he had to say during his criminal trial. At the sentencing that starts tomorrow , Judge Zagel will want to hear that Blagojevich accepts responsibility for his crimes.

But a psychologist who's watched Blagojevich through the media thinks there may be something inside the former governor making that impossible.

“I think it is hard for him to change,” Dr. Daniella Schreier said. “It's a personality trait. It's a pattern. That is partially why he was liked. He was outspoken. He always gives his opinion, if it's good or not. Or helpful or not. And this is a personality trait, or a trait that he has that is hard to break.”

Blagojevich and his family have a lot riding on whether he can break that lifelong pattern.

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