* Gov. JB Pritzker today…
Before I take questions, I’d like to take a moment to make a bittersweet announcement.
The past two and a half years have been some of the most difficult in the history of state government. Even more so than normal, these past few years have required superhuman dedication by those who work in the highest levels of government, being away from their families at all hours of the day and night, and making agonizing decisions about saving lives and protecting livelihoods.
The bonds you create in these times of crisis last a lifetime.
Beside me every step of the way has been Deputy Governor Dan Hynes, who has been a steady first mate to steer our fiscal ship out of decades of turbulent waters, the last one having been one of the rocky-est. He has been my friend for nearly 30 years.
Dan, from day one of your service in this administration, you helped breathe life into state agencies that had been hollowed out and belittled for years.
In our first year, you helped land a bipartisan agreement on a balanced budget that made unprecedented investments in our infrastructure and human services. Since then, you have helped bring more structural balance by leading a team that consistently finds creative ways to get every dollar we’re entitled to receive from the federal government, reducing the burden on Illinois taxpayers. You found efficiencies where no one else saw them. You helped reach a landmark deal with AFSCME, treating our workers fairly and generating hundreds of millions in savings for taxpayers.
Throughout this pandemic, you found ways for us to support our small business and industry, keeping thousands of them alive during the hardest days and deepest uncertainty. You focused on helping them rebuild, evidenced by the $570 million in rebuilding support in this budget.
For the first in years, Illinois doesn’t have a debt backlog, and we paid off billions in outstanding debts – including to small businesses that provided services for the state and depended on those prompt repayments to stay open and pay their staffs.
Looking to the future, you helped create new, durable industries with Illinois attracting data centers and electric vehicle manufacturers from across the country and internationally.
And I want to close by thanking you for helping me accomplish something no one else in state government has been able to do, despite 75 years of trying: consolidate downstate police and fire pensions so that they could reap the savings and benefits of becoming a large pension fund, instead of a piecemeal of nearly hundreds of tiny funds that all paid administrative expenses and were shut out of the highest earnings of large investment funds. This is generational change for Illinois, and you made a difference for first responders and their families, and you helped save billions for property taxpayers.
I’ve known Dan for a long time, and I asked him to join my administration because I knew I needed his unparalleled knowledge of the state budget and his well-deserved reputation as a fiscally responsible leader. As you can tell, he delivered.
But what I’ve come to learn about Dan over these past few years is that he also has a profound understanding of our economy and business climate, and a zeal for making our economy stronger and helping businesses thrive. He will be deeply missed.
Despite Dan’s departure, I’m incredibly excited to announce that former State Senator Andy Manar will be taking over as Deputy Gov for Budget and Economy upon Dan’s departure. Over the last 2 and a half years I’ve been so lucky to serve with so many smart and amazing people who are deeply committed to working families. Andy follows in that proud tradition. He comes with a deep well of respect all across the state, and he will provide immeasurably important perspective in this new role.