Federal Budget
6:30 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Illinois Did Not Lose Money Under Default Threat: Rutherford

Treasurer Dan Rutherford
Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford is seen in this August 2013 file photo.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

With the federal shutdown over and a government default averted, investors are breathing a sigh of relief Thursday. That includes the people responsible for investing billions of dollars on behalf of Illinois state government.

The state of Illinois has about $10 billion in investments. That money is the responsibility of Treasurer Dan Rutherford, who says about $1.2 billion of Illinois' portfolio is in the form of U.S. Treasury Bills.

When Congressional Republicans threatened to let the government default on that kind of debt over an attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act, Rutherford says Illinois had to explore other investments.

"So what we did in preparation for all of this was look at other instruments to be able to still draw some interest, but were secure, and not have to rely on that $1.2 billion of Treasury Bills coming through," Rutherford says.

As for whether he thought his fellow Republicans' use of the shutdown and credit threat as a bargaining tactic was a good idea, Rutherford would not say.

"The issue as to whether the tactic was right and so forth at the federal level, really I'm going to leave to my U.S. congressmen and senator friends -- they have to debate that one out," he says,

But Rutherford is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, and, when pressed, acknowledged he would have a role to play in the debate over a future shutdown or default.

"The approach I'm going to take at this, is if this does occur under my watch, is what is it that I can do to constructively be of assistance by outlining what the ramifications are, but not using it as a political opportunity to beat the bully pulpit," he says,

Rutherford says the key is to avoid the partisan debate, and instead try to be more of a statesman.