Illinois Democrats, GOP Gov. Rauner spar again over vetoes
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Democrats who control the Illinois General Assembly began another showdown Tuesday with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner over vetoes, less than four months after overriding him to end the longest state budget stalemate in modern U.S. history.
On the first day of a special session called to address Rauner’s vetoes of several bills, the Senate voted 42-13 to override him on union-friendly legislation he had staunchly opposed. The House still must pass the override on a three-fifths vote.
Other expected override votes involve issues that have defined Rauner’s nearly three years in office and come just a day after the conservative businessman announced his intention to seek a second term in November 2018.
The bill the Senate passed again Tuesday, over Rauner’s opposition, would prohibit local governments from establishing areas in which an employee can work in a union job with union benefits without paying labor dues. The village of Lincolnshire established such so-called “right-to-work” jurisdictions in 2015 after Rauner failed to enact the system statewide.
A federal judge ruled against Lincolnshire in January, saying only the Legislature can establish a statewide right-to-work area, as 28 states have.
“Today’s vote could create a damaging loss for the economic competitiveness of Illinois,” Rauner said Tuesday in a statement.
Another potential override, pushed by Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza, would require state agencies to report monthly on the bills they’ve incurred but not yet sent to the comptroller for processing. Mendoza said it would help her budget for paying down a $16.3 billion pile of past-due bills.
A plan Rauner rejected that would increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2022 awaits further action, as does a proposal to require companies writing workers’ compensation insurance to get state approval for the premiums they charge.
Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s legislation to create a “bill of rights” for student-loan recipients is up for override, as is a measure from Democratic Treasurer Michael Frerichs to make it easier to collect life insurance benefits when a beneficiary dies.
The contentious budget Democrats approved in July after a historic stalemate is likely to be a major issue in Rauner’s re-election campaign, although he contends it’s still $1.7 billion out of balance.
He proposed as much as $370 million in budget cuts, according to a legislative analysis, largely to programs popular with Democrats. And there’s still as much as $1.2 billion from the year that ended June 30 that the administration already spent, even without authorization from lawmakers.
Rep. Greg Harris, a Chicago Democrat and House budget negotiator, said the Democratic budget would allow the state to settle those old bills while tightening the financial outlook going forward.
“It’s a huge problem,” Harris said.
Associated Press writer Sophia Tareen contributed to this report from Chicago.
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