Rauner promises 'competitive' salaries for business leaders joining team

Updated 1/23/2015 10:13 PM

Business leaders tapped to join Illinois' new executive team will be offered "competitive" salaries to lure them out of the private sector, Gov. Bruce Rauner said Friday.

The Winnetka Republican said he plans to announce more advisers in the next few weeks.


"We're going to pay what we need to to bring in talented people," Rauner said. "The reality is the folks coming on our team are willing to take pretty big salary cuts to what they've been making because they want to be public servants and give back and help the people of Illinois."

Confronted with a massive budget shortfall, Rauner, in one of his first actions as governor, ordered state agencies to freeze unnecessary spending. And this week, in a Chicago speech previewing his State of the State address, he said the state's average public employee salaries rank among the highest in the country.

But he dismissed criticism about the pay for his wife's chief of staff, Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, a former television reporter who will get $100,000 a year. Rauner's wife, Diana, is the state's first new first lady in six years.

Rauner wouldn't directly comment on Jimenez's salary during a brief meeting with reporters at an unveiling of a renovated Harper College building Friday.

"We're going to try to save as much money for the taxpayers as we can with salaries," Rauner said. "But the reality is we need leadership and innovative thinking and thinking outside of the box to transform the government and save taxpayers billions of dollars in the long run."

• Daily Herald news services contributed to this report

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