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Doug Finke

Statehouse Insider: Rauner wins some, loses some

Week one of the veto session is over, and the results weren’t exactly auspicious for Gov. Bruce Rauner.

By the end of the week, the Legislature had taken votes on 17 bills that Rauner either vetoed outright or used his amendatory veto powers to rewrite. Lawmakers overrode the governor on 14 bills and sustained his vetoes on three bills.

Note that this counts only the bills on which the General Assembly took votes. In some cases – notably on raising the state’s minimum wage – the sponsoring lawmaker opted not to call the bill for an override attempt.

In raw numbers, it appeared Rauner was a big loser last week. That’s particularly true when you consider that in his first 2 years, Rauner almost never had his vetoes overridden.

As you might expect, Rauner put on a happy face Friday during an appearance in Chicago.

“We set some priorities in this session and we prioritized my vetoes,” Rauner said. “Our priorities have been protected. Our priorities held, but we had some overridden.”

First, the priorities that were protected. Or more precisely, the one priority that was protected. That was the bill that prohibited local governments from establishing right to work zones. Although Rauner doesn’t talk about them as much as he did when he first took office, local right to work zones are still near and dear to him, as is the right to work issue generally. If there was one bill he wanted his veto sustained, it was this one. It was, by a single vote in the House.

Lawmakers also gave him victories by sustaining his vetoes on bills to limit outsourcing state work and to create a state-run workers compensation insurance company.

So, at least the governor didn’t leave the first week empty-handed.

But then there was the 112-0 vote to override his veto of a bill sought by Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza.

The legislation is meant to give a clearer picture of the state’s mountain of unpaid bills. Since Rauner vetoed the bill, Mendoza traveled the state making the case for why it is necessary and convincing most newspaper editorial boards – including ones that didn’t support her in the 2016 election – that it was a good thing. It probably helped that it was a straightforward, understandable concept – that financially prudent people know how much they owe.

It was a fairly ignominious defeat for the governor, but Rauner wouldn’t let it go.

“The bill really, primarily is about enabling some more political manipulation by Speaker Madigan and Comptroller Mendoza on how they can prioritize bill payments,” Rauner said Friday. “That’s really what was behind the bill.”

He said the state needs to “eliminate the politicization of bill paying.”

Yes, the sinister Michael Madigan forced 48 House Republicans to vote for a bill to help him and Mendoza politicize the state’s bill payments. Gosh, that guy is good.

Postscript: Mendoza had a news conference after the vote to discuss what happened.

She was joined by two Democratic lawmakers and Reps. Tony McCombie of Savanna and David McSweeney of Barrington Hills. They are Republicans. It did not appear that they were forced to attend.

The Legislature is taking a week off before returning to finish the veto session.

Rauner plans to put that time to good use by leading a delegation to Israel to “explore opportunities for expanded business and research ties” that are linked to technological innovation. A number of top officials from the University of Illinois are also part of the delegation.

Obviously, everyone hopes the trip will be a success. But just to be safe, maybe Rauner can bring along copies of his new campaign ad to show all of the wondrous opportunities right next to Illinois, in case this state isn’t good enough.

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