The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Political Reporter Won't Shave His Beard Until The State Has A Budget

By Kate Shepherd in News on Aug 25, 2015 2:08PM

Courtesy of the Peoria Journal Star

It's Day 86 of Illinois' budget impasse, and it seems like state lawmakers and leaders might never agree on a budget.

Peoria Journal Star political reporter and columnist Chris Kaergard is a living testament to how long the fight has lasted. In late May, he decided to not shave until the governor and the legislature reached a budget agreement. Nearly three months later, his beard is much longer than he ever expected, he wrote last weekend Peoria Journal Star column.

Growing a beard was a way to draw attention to the length of budget fight and hopefully make citizens care, he said in an email interview.

"It's become so easy to tune out these political fights statewide or nationally, reduce them to talking points," he said. "As a columnist, I guess I hoped this would give people an easy way to keep an eye on the issue, a few absurd photos and people might start to ask some important questions—why is this taking so long, and what do the governor and legislative leaders disagree about?"

He is committed to letting his "monstrosity" of a beard grow until there’s a budget deal. But he would at least consider a tiny bit of trimming on his upper lip to keep hair out of his mouth if it goes on for a few more months. One would hope that Kaergard's beard would compel Gov. Bruce Rauner, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton to reach an agreement sooner rather than later, but that's not the only point.

"If readers are moved to pay a little more attention to Springfield because of this, then it's been worth it," he said.

Kaergard and the Peoria Journal Star published a timeline of the budget negotiations along with his column.