January 22, 2015 / 10:26 PM / 3 years ago

Illinois governor draws from other states for turnaround team

CHICAGO, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has tapped former top officials from Hawaii, New York and other states to work on his state’s turnaround.

“This is possibly the biggest turnaround in America today, and it’s the biggest turnaround I’ve ever been associated with,” the former venture capitalist and first-time public office holder told an audience of University of Chicago business students on Thursday.

Rauner, a Republican who took office on Jan. 12, announced that Donna Arduin, a state budget expert who has worked with Republican governors in Michigan, New York, Florida and California will be Illinois’ new chief financial officer.

Linda Lingle, Hawaii’s Republican governor from 2002 to 2010, was tapped as a senior adviser. The former journalist served two four-year terms as mayor of Maui County starting in 1990 and unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 2012.

Trey Childress, Georgia’s former chief operating officer under two governors, was named deputy governor by Rauner.

Rauner, who is scheduled to deliver a state of the state address on Feb. 4, did not disclose any details about how Illinois’ sinking finances would be rescued.

Illinois has the worst-funded public retirement system and the lowest credit ratings among the 50 states.

In his presentation to the business students, Rauner hammered at well-worn themes, including the futility of depending on tax hikes to solve Illinois’ deep financial woes, obstacles that hurt Illinois’ ability to compete with other states, as well as the state’s big debt burden, huge pile of unpaid bills and escalating spending.

He vowed to fix problems in the public employee pension system that are adding to the state’s $105 billion unfunded liability. Cost-saving reforms enacted by the state in 2013 are currently before the Illinois Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on their constitutionality in March.

On Thursday, the court kept the litigation brought by unions and others on a fast track, denying requests by the city of Chicago and several other parties to file briefs in support of the law. (Reporting By Karen Pierog; Editing by Ken Wills)

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