In interviews after the legislature gave final approval to a bill banning pay-to-play in state contracting, Gov. Blagojevich and his spokespeople have been doing all they can to muddy up the issue. The pay-to-play bill passed without a single "no" vote; it has 118 sponsors in the House and 42 in the Senate. They say they're looking forward to adding in additional language, that they are disappointed that the legislature didn't embrace larger reforms. But who is he kidding?
His interest in larger reforms is news to the reform community. We have been working consistently for the past decade to improve Illinois' political climate. Gov. Blagojevich talks about reform only when it looks like we're making progress, and only in ways that threaten to derail that progress.
In this legislative session, we've been hard at work and the governor has been consistently silent. He now says he wants to see changes to Illinois' campaign finance laws, perhaps that cover the legislature? We've been working on legislation that does just that, HB 3497, for over a year and a half, without any help from his office. He now wants to look at lobbyist regulation? We've been working on legislation that does just that, HB 8, for over a year and a half, without any help from his office. He now thinks the pay-to-play bill doesn't go far enough? His office knew all along where the bill was and what was in it; if he wanted to offer suggestions, there was a time for that. But on this vehicle, the time for comments, suggestions, and changes has passed.
We're still open to talking about broader reforms. If the Governor wants to engage on these issues, we're eager to engage with him. There are plenty of other areas that need improvement, and other bills to get us there. But he needs to get serious, stop the name calling, and sign the bill. If Gov. Blagojevich respects the deliberative process, he will sign HB 824 as it is and join with us in working toward other, future reform bills.