State treasurer praises legacy left by Reagan

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

Today marks what would have been the 102nd birthday of the late President Ronald Reagan. He was born in Tampico, spent his formative years in Dixon, and attended college in Eureka.

Reagan’s birthday presents the ideal time to highlight his momentous economic philosophies that could teach our state some important lessons as we muddle through our own fiscal disaster. As it stands, Illinois has the lowest credit rating in the country.

This colossal financial crisis continues to create serious complications, and we need strong leadership to turn the tide.

Reagan demonstrated the courage it takes to be an effective public servant in very tough times. I know this from looking back at history and because I had the fortunate experience of knowing the man personally.

I first met Reagan soon after I graduated from Illinois State University. He asked me to lead his Illinois campaign. My passion for politics and my understanding of his message of lower taxes and less government spending made it easy to join his team.

As the Illinois state director for Reagan’s presidential campaign in 1980, I recall traveling many parts of Illinois to campaign with his wife Nancy and a California state trooper.

When Reagan became president, America’s financial situation was grim, and families were suffering. The economic turnaround that he led demonstrates a way for Illinois leaders to avoid further financial problems. Reagan’s perspective was simple: Economies flourish and jobs are created when taxes are lowered, regulations on job creators are lessened, and government spending is reduced.

Reagan was good about working with both parties, and often left room for compromise to avoid gridlock. But he always stayed true to his fiscal beliefs.

Happy birthday, Mr. President. You were an exemplary leader. Thank you for the lessons that your legacy will continue to teach.

Note to readers – Dan Rutherford, a Republican, is Illinois state treasurer.

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