March 29, 2012

Expert on Illinois’ financial issues to visit campus

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- J. Thomas Johnson, one of the state’s leading experts on taxes and revenue issues, will discuss Illinois’ current budget situation next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Johnson, president of the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois, will present a lecture at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 4, in the Student Center Auditorium.  Admission is free and the public is welcome.

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is sponsoring the lecture.

Johnson will present, “Illinois’ Money Problems:  Is There an End in Sight?” The lecture will also be available via live stream for free on the Institute’s website,

Prior to his appointment as president of the Illinois Taxpayers’ Federation in April 2006, Johnson served as director of the Illinois Department of Revenue under Gov. James Thompson, and was chair of the Illinois Gaming Board under Gov. Jim Edgar.  In March 2009, Gov. Pat Quinn appointed Johnson to chair the state’s Taxpayer Action Board, which evaluated programs with an eye toward making state government more efficient and accountable.  Johnson’s previous experience includes work in the public accounting field with KPMG and Grant Thornton.

Johnson said his presentation will look at the challenges the state faces along with a “menu of possible solutions we are working on to address those problems.”  Johnson said there are “positives” within Illinois that include being the transportation capital of the nation, a large exporter of Illinois-produced products and services, and featuring a relatively educated workforce.

“I hope that the audience will see there is a way out but all of us have to contribute some sacrifice,” Johnson said.

David Yepsen, Institute director, said Johnson’s presentation is the latest in a series of events over the past three years that focuses on public debt questions in Illinois.

“Tom is one of the state’s leading experts on Illinois’ financial challenges,” Yepsen said.  “These problems touch the SIU and Carbondale communities everyday, and include everything from the soundness of the pension systems for retirees to the availability of grants for students to the levels of tuition.

“In short, Illinois’ financial problems touch us all and Tom’s lecture is an opportunity to better understand the cause of those problems and the options policy-makers face in resolving them,” he said.  “The problems in Illinois are greater than they are in other states and they are problems everyone should try to understand because they affect so many of us.”

A certified public accountant, Johnson earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Northern Illinois University.

While on campus Johnson will also visit with students in Yepsen’s public policy reporting class.

For more information on the program, contact the Institute at 618/453-4009 or visit