CHICAGO -- Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich on Thursday provided a direct assessment of the severe budget situation he inherited upon taking office, calling it “the worst budget crisis the state has ever known.”
At the same time, he said that he sees the nearly five billion dollars shortfall as “an unprecedented moment to thoroughly and fundamentally review our approach, reprioritize and re-think the way government works.”
The new governor also announced the appointment of key advisors who will help him enact the much-needed changes in the way the state charts its economic and fiscal path—an approach that he says is necessary after an extended period in which Illinois’ leaders failed to address the state’s needs.
The deficit, he said, is “the result of years of spending without regard for the immediate and long-term fiscal health of our state.”
The figure represents a projected shortfall of $1.2 billion for the current 2003 fiscal year and a $3.6 billion deficit for fiscal year 2004, for a cumulative two-year total deficit of $4.8 billion.
The new governor cited the enormous deficit as evidence of the need for fundamental reforms of Illinois’ spending and revenue practices, and an opportunity to enact them.
“It is all the proof we need that it is time for fundamental change and real reform of the state’s spending and revenue practices,” he said.
Blagojevich drew parallels between a set of reform-oriented initiatives he announced earlier this week-- which included executive orders and other actions that removed 35 term appointees from the previous administration and placed a freeze on new hiring and acquisition of new state vehicles-- and his goals for dramatically changing the way the budget is crafted.
He called his reforms “signals to Springfield that they cannot count on the comfortable old ways.”
“The same spirit of change will shape our approach to the budget.”
To assist Blagojevich, the new governor announced the appointment of his budget director, John Filan.
Blagojevich also announced on Thursday the creation of a Council of Economic Advisors who will advise the governor on all aspects of economic growth. The panel will function similarly to the White House panel of the same name, and will focus on helping enhance the state’s revenues through an improved climate for economic development and job creation.
The group—whose members will serve on a part-time and volunteer basis-- will be co-chaired by Jim Annable, who currently serves and advisor to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, and Paula Wolff, executive director of Metropolis 2020.
Members of the council will include Ralph Muller, John Rogers, and David Chicoine.
Blagojevich also announced on Thursday the appointment of State Representative Julie Curry from the Decatur area as his Deputy Chief of Staff for Economic Development and Labor.
She will report to the governor and to the deputy governor for policy and communications, Doug Scofield.
Blagojevich said that although he will expect advice from the individuals he appointed today, he also will assign them the specific tasks of reviewing the budget “line by line” to find wasteful spending, to identifying unnecessary positions or non-essential entities within state government that can be consolidated or eliminated, pushing for increases in federal dollars and helping carry out a plan to economize the state’s purchase of prescription drugs.
Finally, Blagojevich reiterated a message he issued during the campaign—that he would call for more public involvement in the budget process.
“I envision a budget process that does not merely impose a budget on the people of Illinois, but a process that includes the people of Illinois,” he said.
Blagojevich said that the he and Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn, who joined him at Thursday’s press conference, would engage in public events around Illinois to “hear the ideas of people who pay for state government: the taxpayers.”
Biographies of Blagojevich budget / economic appointments:
John Filan - budget director:
John Filan is the Managing Partner of FPT&W, Ltd., an Illinois-based consulting and accounting. His subject matter expertise includes cash flow forecasting, multi-year capital and operating budgets, user fee and special tax analyses, debt planning, as well as effectiveness of tax assessments and collections. Mr. Filan previously served in state government as a department cabinet officer, as a member of the Governor’s staff for central management, employment security and state pension agencies, and, also, as a special consultant to the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate on the budget.
He has been an adjunct professor of governmental accounting for the University of Illinois at Chicago and St. Xavier’s College.
Mr. Filan is a current board member of the Civic Federation, and a former member of the Chicago Board of Education, Illinois General Assembly’s Citizen Council on Public Aid, the Education and Employment Task Force Advisory Board, and the Circuit Clerk Audit Guidelines Committee. Mr. Filan also served as the chairperson for the Comptroller’s Advisory Board on Municipal Accounting. Mr. Filan is also active in the Principal for A Day Program for the Chicago Public Schools and the Lend A Shoulder Program for the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Julie Curry – Deputy Chief of Staff for Economy and Labor:
Curry has served as the Illinois State Representative from the 101st District in Central Illinois since 1995. Prior to her service in the Illinois House Curry spent four years as the Macon County Treasurer. She holds a B.A. & M.A. in political science from Eastern Illinois University.
She has served as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee for Elementary and Secondary Education from 1998-2002, and as co-chair of the Legislative Audit Commission from 1996-2002.
She has served on the board of directors of the United Way of Decatur and Macon County from 1990-96 and as a member of the Decatur Rotary Club.
She has received numerous awards for her work in education, agriculture, children’s issues and health care.
James Annable – Co-Chair, Council of Economic Advisors:
James Annable is president of the FRG Company, a financial consulting firm; economic advisor to the chairman of the board of the Bank One Corporation, and Secretary of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.
He was formerly on the economics faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then held several staff positions at the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget Office. He also served as chief economist of First Chicago Corporation and chairman of First Chicago Investment Management.
He received his PhD from Princeton University. He is a former chairman of the board of trustees of the Goodman Theater and served on the executive committee of the board of directors of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
Paula Wolff – Co-Chair, Council of Economic Advisors:
She is a Senior Executive at Chicago Metropolis 2020. She previously served as President of Governors State University between 1992 and 2000. She was Director of Policy and Planning for Governor James R. Thompson; and directed Governor Jim Edgar's transition team.
She serves on numerous boards including the Johnson Foundation, the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Joyce Foundation.
She has a B.A. magna cum laude from Smith College and an M.A. in political science from the University of Chicago.
David L. Chicoine - Member, Council of Economic Advisors:
David L. Chicoine was appointed Vice President for Economic Development and Corporate Relations at the University of Illinois in July 2001. He is the University’s senior officer on economic development issues and initiatives and is an advisor to the President on matters of technology, business and economic development.
Dr. Chicoine’s responsibilities include overseeing the University’s intellectual property offices, research parks, incubating facilities and technology transfer activities to advance the economic development goals of the campuses and their communities, of the university as a whole, and the state of Illinois.
Chicoine served as Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences from August 1995 to July 2001. Chicoine has had a joint appointment in the University’s Institute for Government and Public Affairs since 1984. He received his PhD from the University of Illinois (Ph.D.).
He has frequently served as a consultant and adviser on taxes, farmland property tax assessments, and other public finance issues to members of the Illinois General Assembly, organizations, taxpayer groups, and state agencies.
Ralph Muller – Member, Council of Economic Advisors:
Muller was previously the president and chief executive officer of the University of Chicago Hospitals and Health System, and chair of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the organization that represents medical schools, teaching hospitals, academic and professional societies throughout North America.
John Rogers – Member, Council of Economic Advisors:
John W. Rogers, Jr. is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ariel Capital Management, Inc., an institutional money management firm that he founded in 1983. With over $10 billion in assets under management, the firm manages separate accounts for institutional clients. Prior to founding Ariel, Rogers worked for the investment banking firm of William Blair & Company. He served as President of the Board of the Chicago Park District for a six-year term ending May 1999.
Rogers’ civic affiliations include his role as Chairman of the Chicago Urban League. He received an A.B. in Economics in 1980 from Princeton University. In 1994, he was named by Time magazine as one of its “50 for the Future.” Rogers is a regular outside columnist for Forbes Magazine.
(Listen to the Archived Governor's News Conference - Audio)
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