SPRINGFIELD (AP) – Gov. Bruce Rauner downplayed on Thursday the beating he took in the fall legislative session as evidence of an “ongoing and difficult” struggle for a better state.
With less than a year before he stands for re-election, lawmakers finished work Thursday after overturning more than a dozen gubernatorial vetoes.
The first-term Republican dismissed the notion that GOP lawmakers are abandoning him.
“The battle to get a better future for the people of Illinois is going to be ongoing and difficult,” Rauner told reporters after a deployment ceremony for six Illinois National Guard members headed for Afghanistan.
“This is about what’s best for the people of Illinois: Protecting our taxpayers, reducing our tax burden, growing more jobs, making our economy competitive. I vetoed some bills that were harmful to the people.”
He claimed a key victory in his 3-year-old agenda when the House failed to override his veto of a measure barring local governments from establishing “right-to-work” zones immune from labor-union influence.
But Rauner didn’t fare as well when no one in the House and just three senators stood with him on separate override votes on an issue that became a political spat with Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza. It requires state agencies to report on the bills they’ve incurred monthly instead of once annually. It takes effect Jan. 1.
Rauner called it a “make-work” waste of money to generate instantaneously obsolete reports.
Mendoza also began using $6 billion in borrowed money Wednesday to pay down a mass of overdue bills wrought by a two-year budget stalemate. The first payment dropped the debt by $3.5 billion, to $13.2 billion.
But documents prepared to secure the loan showed that $2.8 billion in Rauner administration spending last year had not been authorized by the Legislature. She said Wednesday that the just-approved “debt-transparency act” would have helped taxpayers see the overspending sooner.
“Comptroller Mendoza criticizing an unbalanced budget that the Democrats passed and that she has worked on is like a bank robber calling the police and saying, ‘We’ve got a problem,’” Rauner said. “This is a broken system.”
Associated Press writer Sophia Tareen contributed from Chicago.
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