Gov. Rauner downplays his legislative setbacks
Gov. Bruce Rauner downplayed any notions that the just-concluded veto session indicates he's lost support among Republican lawmakers.
Rauner made the comment Thursday as lawmakers concluded their 2-week session where they overrode more of the governor's vetoes than in his first 2 years combined.
"What is says is the battle to help get a better future for the people of Illinois is going to be ongoing and difficult," Rauner said when asked about losing more than a dozen override votes this year.
Rauner persuaded House Republicans to stand with him and block the override of a bill that prohibits creation of local right to work zones. Defeating the pro-union measure was a key goal of Rauner's heading into the veto session.
However, lawmakers overrode Rauner's veto or amendatory veto on more than a dozen other bills, including high-profile measures pushed by Comptroller Susana Mendoza, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and Treasurer Michael Frerichs, all Democrats.
The vote to override the veto of Mendoza's bill was particularly one sided: no one in the House voted with Rauner, and only three Senate Republicans sided with the governor.
Mendoza's bill requires state agencies to make monthly, rather than yearly, reports on the amount of bills they are holding, waiting to be paid. Rauner Thursday called it a "make work bill."
"We're going to waste a lot of money generating reports that are going to be almost immediately worthless because things change on a day-to-day basis," Rauner said. "That bill is going to cost a lot of money and accomplish almost nothing."
Mendoza spokesman Abdon Pallasch said lawmakers recognized the importance of the bill.
"Governor Rauner has been repudiated by his fellow Republicans and Democrats in both chambers by a total vote of 164-3," he said in a statement.
Pallasch also said lawmakers and state officials only recently learned of $2.8 billion in deficit spending by the administration that was only disclosed in reports the state had to file in order to issue bonds to pay down the bill backlog.
Mendoza said the law is crucial so that she, as the person who writes checks for the state's bills, has an accurate picture of what needs to be paid and how to prioritize payments.
She also said the information is crucial for lawmakers as they try to craft a budget.
There was speculation Rauner could face a backlash from Republicans during the veto session because he signed the bill that provides expanded public funding for abortions in Illinois. Partly as a result of that bill signing, state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, is trying to launch a primary challenge to Rauner.
Rauner said there was no fallout in the veto session.
"This is not a personal thing," he said. "The General Assembly passed a lot of bad bills that are going to cause more tax hikes, they're going to cause more deficit spending, they're going to cause more jobs to leave the state. I vetoed those bills. Some we were successful in protecting the people of Illinois, and some we weren't."