SPRINGFIELD - Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today continued his commitment to support Illinois military families in his Fiscal Year 2005 budget proposal for the Department of Military Affairs. The budget proposal streamlines operations, supports a new armory facility, and continues to place the Military Family Relief Fund as a high priority.
The introduced General Revenue Fund budget for the Department of Military Affairs is $12.8 million, representing a 15.7 percent decrease from last year’s General Revenue Fund budget. The budget proposal reflects Governor Blagojevich’s overall mission of fiscal discipline, while maintaining support and services for the 13,200 members of Illinois National Guard.
“I applaud Governor Blagojevich’s continued commitment to Illinois’ military families and the sacrifices made by them,” said Brigadier General Randal E. Thomas, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. “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. These families deserve and are getting our support.”
The Illinois Military Family Relief Fund was given high priority with a $5 million budget. The Relief Fund provides grants to families of Illinois National Guard members and Illinois Reservists called to active duty as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Other funding sources for the Relief Fund include donations from private businesses, foundations, individuals and a check-off on the state income tax form. The Department of Military Affairs has the ability to grant $500 to each eligible family with additional consideration being given to cases of extreme hardship, casualty, or loss of life.
The Department of Military Affairs has responded to the Governor’s directive to reduce spending. The FY2005 budget reflects a reduction of $4.4 million in program and operating costs. To eliminate redundancy and increase efficiency, the Department of Military Affairs is transforming its State Area Headquarters by combining the Army and Air National Guard into a single State Joint Forces Headquarters.
Other key initiatives in the FY05 budget proposal aim to continually prepare, train, and equip department personnel. To enhance the capabilities of the Illinois National Guard’s nationally recognized Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, the Department of Military Affairs is fielding one of the nation’s first National Guard Chemical, Biological, Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package organizations. This will allow the Department of Military Affairs to enhance the Civil Support Team to improve its ability to support state civil authorities in the event of a weapons of mass destruction incident.
The department’s budget renews the commitment to the Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy. The academy offers high school dropouts an opportunity to receive their general equivalency diplomas. One of the first in the nation, Lincoln’s ChalleNGe Academy is one of 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, the office is the central control of all National Guard activities and coordinates military support for state and local authorities. The Illinois National Guard has mobilized approximately 3,000 Army and Air Guard personnel in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom.