During a one-on-one interview with Carol Marin on WTTW last night, Attorney General Lisa Madigan gave a classy explanation for why she opted not to run for higher office after "positioning" herself for a gubernatorial run in late 2008. Below are some relevant ...
During a one-on-one interview with Carol Marin on WTTW last night, Attorney General Lisa Madigan gave a classy explanation for why she opted not to run for higher office after "positioning" herself for a gubernatorial run in late 2008. Below are some relevant portions of the transcript (you can watch the full video here):
MADIGAN: It was very clear to me -- and I think most people in Illinois -- that, a year ago, somebody had to take on Rod Blagojevich. We couldn't continue to have somebody serving as our governor who was serving themselves as opposed to the people of the state. Obviously, things have changed. [...]
There was a motivation when you can sit there and see that the state is being run in a manner that is immoral and illegal. And not knowing what would happen when, I was in fact positioning myself to take on that challenge. [...]
If it was, right now, in my heart to run for governor, that's what I would have done. And obviously it would have been more of a battle. But Carol, you remember, when I first ran for attorney general in 2002 that was half the conversation, if not more. You know, "I couldn't possibly do my job as attorney general because my father was speaker of the House." I think I've proven over the years that I'm independent of him and I'm more than capable of being attorney general of our state. [...]
I went to law school to help people. I got that degree so I could work on seeking justice for people. And as attorney general, I have that opportunity everyday.
But when asked about her views on the state budget impasse, Madigan's response was far less logical:
MARIN: Why didn't you weigh in more [on the budget crisis] than you have?
MADIGAN: I have weighed in. In fact, I weighed in months and months and months ago -- both to the governor as well as to anyone in the media who asked me. And I've said the same thing since day one.
You'll remember that last year, Blagojevich cut my budget 25 percent. So the Office of the Attorney General last year had to go through and make significant and painful cuts. And we started by doing the smallest of things. And once we did everything there, we looked at what we would do in terms of personnel -- laid off 21 people, everyone took furlough days. We're now at a point where we're down 60 people from where we were last year.
What I've said is, before we can ask people in these tough economic times to sacrifice more for the state, the state has to make the cuts and show that they've done the hard work necessary to gain their support.
Madigan's point appears to be this: Her office managed to cut 25 percent of its budget last year, so other departments should be forced to do the same before asking the public to support a tax increase.
But here's my question for the attorney general: Is her office running more efficiently and effectively now that those 60 people are gone? Did they represent "bloat?" When she learned of the budget reduction last July, she called it "irresponsible" and told Crain's "We won’t be able to fulfill our constitutional, statutory or ethical obligations to the state ... We’ll have fewer resources to help people.” Does she now think those cuts were needed?
If not, doesn't that actually undermine the argument with the public over a tax increase? How can we ask them to fork over more of their hard-earned dollars for a government that does less? Doesn't seem particularly convincing to me.