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George H. Ryan was elected Illinois' 39th governor on November 3, 1998, continuing a distinguished career of public service.

Governor Ryan, born February 1934, served as secretary of state for eight years (1991-1999) and lieutenant governor for eight years (1983-91). He also had an accomplished 10-year legislative career (1973-1983).

A lifelong resident of Kankakee and a pharmacist, Ryan has been a leader on both the local and state level. He began his political career as a member and later chairman of the Kankakee County Board. He was elected to the Illinois House in 1972 and re-elected four times. During that tenure, he served two terms as House Republican leader and one term as Speaker of the House (1981-1983).

Since taking office in January 1999, Gov. Ryan has proposed and successfully passed the historic and visionary Illinois FIRST legislation. The Illinois FIRST program provides $12 billion to rebuild and expand the state's roadways, renovate mass transit systems, build, repair and renovate schools, clean environmental hazards, and upgrade water and sewer systems to improve the quality of life for Illinois residents.

Gov. Ryan also passed significant legislation to increase education and training funding to 51% of all new revenue. The Governor proposed and passed, the innovative EDGE tax credit for companies creating jobs in Illinois, the CAP law to prevent child access to guns, the 15-20-Life law to impose tougher sentences on criminals who use guns, the open lands trust initiative to acquire and preserve land for future generations, and the HMO patient bill of rights to make managed care more fair and responsive to Illinois members.

During Ryan's second legislative term, he demonstrated his commitment to educate our children and prepare the workforce for the challenges of the New Economy. The VentureTECH initiative will promote technology by investing in the people, programs and physical structures as well as to promote venture capital investment. In January of 2000, after 13 people sentenced to death row were found to have been wrongfully convicted, Gov. Ryan took the unprecedented step of declaring a moratorium on executions and established a commission to comprehensibly review the system of capital punishment. Gov. Ryan said, "Until I can be sure, with moral certainty, that no innocent man or woman is facing a lethal injection, no one will meet that fate." Also, the Governor has created a commission to rewrite the state's outdated and confusing criminal code.

As a result of Gov. Ryan's commitment to public service and his legislative accomplishments, he has been named 'Man of the Year' and received various other awards by numerous organizations including; the City Club of Chicago, the Veterans Leadership Program, Arab-American Business and Professional Association, Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, American Associates Ben Gurion University, Illinois Commission Against Handgun Violence and Coalition Unity Community Action-ORTC.

As secretary of state, Ryan worked to promote an efficient and cost-conscious administration that provided high-quality service to Illinois taxpayers and motorists. At the same time, he broke new ground in the fight against drunk driving, in the prevention of violence in society, in support of adult literacy, in increasing awareness about the need for organ donors and in the use of 21st Century technology in libraries and government.

Secretary Of State Ryan proposed and passed significant legislation and introduced various initiatives:

Lowering the legal limit for drunk driving from a blood-alcohol content of .10 percent to .08 percent.

"Use It & Lose It" suspending the drivers' licenses of underage motorists who drink and drive.

"Graduate to Safety" requiring teens to get more training during their first years behind the wheel.

Requiring all new school bus drivers to undergo complete criminal background checks.

Ryan is a graduate of Kankakee public schools, served with the U.S. Army in Korea and, following his discharge, obtained a bachelor's degree in pharmacy from Ferris State College in Big Rapids, Michigan. After 42 years of family ownership, the Ryan pharmacies were sold in 1990.

George and Lura Lynn Ryan are the parents of a son and five daughters, including triplets. They have fourteen grandchildren.

 

 
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