Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was sentenced today to 14 years in prison, but the real sentence is the one taxpayers will serve many years after. He mastered the art of pairing populist rhetoric with expensive new programs directed toward his core constituencies. That mastery, however, was confounded by incredible lapses of judgment and public grandstanding that baffled both voters and politicians alike.
Perhaps worst of all, as CEO of Illinois, Blagojevich institutionalized a culture of deficit spending. He accomplished this so effectively that Blagojevich’s successor, Gov. Pat Quinn, and other lawmakers feel comfortable perpetuating the ruinous habits of spending and borrowing more than the state can afford. Fiscal ineptitude is the new norm.
The Illinois Policy Institute details Blagojevich's lasting effect on Illinois' fiscal condition in a new report. Read it at www.illinoispolicy.org/blago.