CHICAGO—A budget agreement reached today between Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and Secretary of State Jesse White will halt the closure of any Secretary of State Driver’s Services facilities, prevent layoffs of frontline employees who serve the public, and allow the Secretary of State to satisfy a cost of living increase for all union employees.
Governor Blagojevich and Secretary White agreed to the following budget parameters:
· Of the $22 million cut made by Blagojevich in the Secretary of State’s office, the Governor agreed to restore $5 million to cover the cost of living pay raise negotiated with union employees for the current fiscal year;
· The Governor also agreed to address a $4.8 million employer pension obligation for Secretary of State employees, provided it does not cost the state any new money;
· The $27 million increase given to the Secretary of State’s office for FY04 and vetoed by Blagojevich would not be restored;
· The Governor agreed to work with White to ask the General Assembly for the authority to transfer existing funds within the Secretary of State’s budget lines.
Blagojevich and White also agreed to work together on future budget issues.
Blagojevich had used his line item veto power in July to reduce White’s budget from $358 million to $335 million. Under the terms of the agreement, White’s final budget for fiscal year 2004 is $340 million.
“We had a genuine disagreement about money, just as many families do every day, especially when times are tough, and when everyone is being asked to make sacrifices,” Blagojevich said. “But like most families, in the end, we came together and worked it out. Jesse White has done a tremendous job finding ways to save money, and thanks to his hard work, we can devote even more resources to fixing our schools, to health care for children, seniors and working families, and to public safety. His innovation is impressive, and he deserves a lot of credit for it.”
“The Governor inherited the worst deficit in the state’s history, and I commend him on his efforts to deal with it without raising taxes,” White said. “I want to thank him for restoring funds to our office and I look forward to working with the General Assembly to approve this plan. Although due to budget cuts we had to put many projects on hold, I look forward to working with the Governor and the General Assembly to continue my goals to move this office forward.”
Blagojevich pointed out that despite their disagreement on the budget, he and White have continued to work together on substantive issues, including Blagojevich’s approval in August of legislation granting broad powers to White’s Inspector General to help him root out corruption in the Secretary of State’s office. Blagojevich himself issued an Executive Order in January creating an Independent Inspector General position to oversee all agencies under the control of the Governor, the first such oversight agency in the history of the state.
The agreement reached between the two officials will require approval by the General Assembly during the fall veto session.