Rauner, Mendoza trade barbs over debt transparency
It looks like Gov. Bruce Rauner’s feud with Comptroller Susana Mendoza is going to continue for a while.
Rauner took some shots at Mendoza and her Debt Transparency Act after the state lawmakers, in lopsided fashion, overrode Rauner’s veto of Mendoza’s main legislative proposal.
Asked specifically about the bill – that requires state agencies to report monthly on the bills they have that need payment – Rauner called it a “make-work bill” that will generate worthless reports and in the end “accomplish almost nothing.”
Well, make-work or not, it will force greater transparency of state finances. A lot of governors haven’t liked that.
Mendoza’s office shot back that between the House and Senate, the tally was 164-3 to override Rauner’s veto of the bill. Apparently a lot of people didn’t see it as worthless.
Mendoza has also pointed out that there was $2.8 billion worth of spending going on that no one knew about until the state had to disclose it in order to issue bonds. She criticized the deficit spending under the Rauner administration. The governor was not pleased.
“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,” he said.
As long as those two are on the ballot next year, things will be entertaining, regardless whether any of the statewide races are competitive.
Women’s Caucus formally announced
Last week saw the formal announcement of the Women’s Caucus in the Illinois Senate. It is a more formal gathering of female senators, both Democrats and Republicans, to advance issues of importance to women.
There were 17 female senators and 15 representatives attending a news conference announcing the caucus. The others had scheduling conflicts.
State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, and others emphasized that the Senate’s women had always worked together informally. The difference is the group will now assume a more formal posture. Their initial agenda will be continued focus on addressing sexual harassment and developing positions on education issues.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out and on what issues a diverse group like that will find common ground. Not long after the news conference, the Senate failed to override Rauner’s veto of a bill prohibiting employers from looking at a person’s pay history when setting someone’s salary. It was touted as pro-woman bill since women traditionally are paid less than men.
Female senators split on the vote. Eleven Democrats voted in favor of the override, none against it. Four Republicans voted against it, none for it. Two Democrats didn’t vote.
Well, they did say at the news conference there would be disagreements.
Spring session starts out slowly
As normally happens this time of year, the House and Senate put out the calendars for the upcoming spring session that show which days the chambers plan to be in session in Springfield.
You could say things are a bit back-loaded, which reflects that this is an election year and that Easter comes early. Neither senators nor representatives are likely to suffer from exhaustion in January: The House will be in session 4 days, the Senate 2.
Both chambers will be in session quite a bit in February. Then there’s March: The House and Senate each will be in session only 4 days, although not always on the same days.
It’s partly because the primary election is March 20 and the Legislature is never in session around elections. Then Easter falls on April 1 and the spring break is always scheduled around Easter and Passover.
Starting the week of April 9, though, both the House and Senate will be in session virtually every weekday through the end of May. Then we’ll see whether lawmakers repeat the previous 3 years and keep on going into the summer.