July 11, 2011
By Paul Morello
Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon says she understands people are upset over Governor Quinn’s decision to cancel pay raises for state workers. But, she tells WJBC the blame should actually fall on a history of bad money management in the state.
“I can understand that people are angry. I think the more appropriate focal point for anger is a political process that over many years didn’t address in a responsible way that we live within our means as a state.”
The governor’s decision wasn’t easy.
“There are no easy cuts to be made in the state budget. Those were made a long time ago,” says Simon. “What we’re talking about are painful cuts. The governor chose this cut and it looks like now the courts will be involved to help decide that.”
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is suing and taking the case to an arbitrator.
While Quinn fights a union battle, Simon is fighting corruption in the state. The Lieutenant Governor is trying to root out corruption by requiring public officials to report their income. She says most of the political corruption in the state is linked to greed and making income disclosure a requirement could help avoid that.
“The worst that would happen is we’re going to discourage a few people who have bad motives from running for office. We’re working on getting support to provide [income information] to the citizens of Illinois.”
Simon also weighed in on cuts to the regional school superintendent office. Governor Quinn wants the position to be paid locally, but regional superintendents say they perform state duties and should be paid by Illinois. Simon sees both sides of the argument.
“They provide teacher certification. That could be done on a statewide basis rather than a regional basis and it could be done more efficiently. But then there are some functions regional superintendents perform particularly in regard to students who are at risk or who have dropped out that are really significant and I think local folks will really miss state funding for those services.”
Simon was in town to speak at a local food summit at the Illinois Farm Bureau.