Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker names panel to tackle state budget mess
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Calling it “a guidepost” to help his administration navigate the path to resolve the state’s budget problems, Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker on Thursday announced the formation of a working group including politicians, businessmen and labor leaders to advise him.
The Chicago Democrat’s “budget and innovation committee” is comprised of 17 members from both sides of the aisle.
The chairman is former state Comptroller Dan Hynes, a Democrat who has unsuccessfully run for governor and the U.S. Senate. Other members include Christine Radogno, the former Republican Leader in the Illinois state Senate; Michael Sacks, chairman and CEO of GCM Grosvenor; Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers; and Dan Montgomery, head of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
Hynes called the committee the beginning of what will be a “collaborative and innovative process.”
“The budget is going to be not only the top priority but it’s going to impact everything our new governor is going to try to accomplish,” Hynes said.
With $8 billion in unpaid bills, pension liabilities and other financial problems that impact services will take a group effort and creative thinking, Hynes said. It’ll take an honest scope of the problems and a collaborative process to solve them, he said.
Pritzker named his larger transition team on Wednesday, a day after he beat Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Pritzker said his budget and innovation committee is the first in a series of working groups he will form to address specific state issues.
The reports the committee produces grappling with the fiscal issues will be made public, Pritzker said.
“I’m going to be very much on top of what the committees are doing, listening to them and following along as they tackle each of the issues,” Pritzker said. “It is going to be a guidepost for what we intend to do in our administration, in each of the committees we are putting together.”
Pritzker provided no new clarity on his plans for a graduated income tax system. He said that listening and including all parties would be important for tackling the difficult challenge of getting the constitutional amendment it would take to change the system passed.
“In order to change the tax system in the state … we need to make sure that we’re listening,” Pritzker said at the Springfield press conference. “I know you all don’t want to accept that, but in order to get something done we need to listen to all parties.”