* As subscribers know, there’s lots more to this story beyond the public sturm und drang…
Gov. Pat Quinn pulled an end run on state lawmakers to salvage the jobs of two Cabinet members and dodge a short-term showdown with African-American and Latino lawmakers whose support he needs to win re-election this fall.
The Democratic governor took the rare step of withdrawing — and then quickly renominating — Julie Hamos, director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, and Manny Flores, appointed to head the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The move has the effect of hitting the reset button on what had been a deadline this week for the Illinois Senate to confirm the two aides.
Critics who had been poised to vote down the appointments are crying foul — Quinn nominated Hamos, a former lawmaker from Evanston and Flores, a former Chicago alderman, a year ago, but now both are poised to stay in their jobs until the governor’s term expires in January without ever facing an up-or-down vote.
The Illinois Constitution says nominees must be voted up-or-down within 60 legislative session days — as opposed to calendar days — of the governor’s recommendation to the Senate or their nominations take effect automatically.
Hamos, a former state lawmaker who has served as agency chief since 2010, has been in the legislative crosshairs for more than a year, primarily because of she has been in charge of implementing an overhaul of Medicaid that was supposed to cut $2.7 billion from the health care program for poor people.
Last year, members of the Senate’s African-American and Latino caucuses sent a letter to Quinn urging him to replace Hamos, saying she’s made spending cuts a higher priority than helping low-income and disabled Illinoisans.
By contrast, Republicans have contended she is not moving fast enough to implement the savings.
In a statement issued Monday, the governor’s office didn’t address the reasons for the maneuver.
“The governor strongly supports the director,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said.
* From the Senate Republicans…
As Republican Spokesman for the Senate Executive Appointments Committee, Senator Bivins said his concerns are not about the particular appointees, but more about the integrity of the executive appointment process. The 45th District Senator is filing an amendment to his Senate Bill 2683 that will close this loophole by prevent the 60 legislative session days “clock” from restarting by simply withdrawing an appointee and reappointing them.
All gubernatorial appointments have to be submitted to the Senate Executive Appointments Committee, which then sends its recommendations to the full Senate for approval.
The two directors up for reappointment are Julie Hamos, Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, and Manuel Flores, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
Senator Bivins also questioned the Senate Majority’s sincerity in protecting the integrity of the process. In his letter to the Senate President withdrawing the two directors’ appointments, Governor Quinn specifically indicates the withdrawal came at the Senate President’s request.
“Keep in mind that on the day before the primary election, a meeting of the Executive Appointments Committee was called because of concerns about the pending deadline; however, neither Secretary Flores nor Director Hamos were on the list of names to be appointed,” Senator Bivins said. “But suddenly, the Governor circumvents the process and pulls a Friday stunt like this.”