SPRINGFIELD, ILL. - Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today proposed a fiscal year 2004 General Revenue Fund (GRF) budget of $13.1 million for the Illinois Department of Military Affairs, an 8.6 percent decrease from last year’s budget.
A priority for the agency is the Illinois Military Family Relief Fund, which provides grants to families of Illinois National Guard members and Illinois reservists called to active duty in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The proposed budget includes $5 million for this fund.
Pursuant to Public Act 92-0886, signed by Gov. Blagojevich on Feb. 7, grants are available to families of Illinois National Guard members or Illinois residents who are members of the U.S. Armed Forces Reserves and who have been called to active duty as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Other revenue sources for the fund include donations from private businesses, foundations, and voluntary contributions made by individuals on their state income tax returns. The department will file emergency rules to grant $500 to each eligible family; additional consideration will be given in cases of extreme hardship, casualty or loss of life.
Maj. Gen. David Harris, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, endorsed the governor’s continued commitment to Illinois military families and the sacrifices made by them. “The men and women of the Illinois National Guard, both Army and Air, and Illinois reservists have been called on repeatedly to perform a variety of missions since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks,” Harris said. “These families deserve our support.”
Responding to the governor’s directive to reduce spending in FY04, the department’s budget cuts $1.2 million in program and operating expenditures while maintaining sufficient support for critical services. Funding for the Lincoln’s Challenge Academy, which offers high school dropouts an opportunity to receive their general equivalency diplomas, was not reduced. The academy, one of the first in the nation, is still among the premiere military-directed youth programs in the country.
The Office of the Adjutant General within the Department of Military Affairs directs the Illinois National Guard, administers its operations and dispatches units as needed. During emergencies, it controls all National Guard activities and coordinates military support for state and local authorities.
The Illinois National Guard has mobilized approximately 2,700 Army and Air Guard personnel in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom. The Illinois Army National Guard has approximately 10,200 members and the Illinois Air National Guard has approximately 3,200 members. It is the ninth largest state National Guard in the nation.