* There was a lot of talk from Chicago Democrats in the Senate yesterday about how killing a properly negotiated state contracts was setting a very bad precedent…
An effort to overturn this year’s new health-insurance contracts for state employees and extend Health Alliance’s contract for two years failed Wednesday in the Illinois Senate.
On a 28-28 vote, the Senate failed to override Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of a bill that would have extended for two years contracts that expired June 30. The measure also would have given a legislative panel explicit authority to throw out contracts awarded by state agencies. […]
But on Wednesday, 13 senators — almost all of them Democrats and most from the Chicago area — voted against the override after originally voting for the bill or not voting. One Democratic senator who previously voted “yes” didn’t vote Wednesday, and Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, changed his previous “yes” vote to “present.”
They’re right that this is a very bad precedent. The separation of powers questions are a big problem with this idea. But what’s missing here is that Blue Cross won the bid to supply the coverage. Blue Cross employs a whole lot of people in Chicago. Ergo, hometown pressure. Don’t discount that.
* Gov. Pat Quinn’s office also worked this bill hard, which definitely helped kill the veto override. Unlike the “Smart Grid” bill and the gaming bill, the governor didn’t demagogue this issue. It worked. Perhaps a lesson could be learned?
State Sen. Shane Cultra, R-Onarga, said the failure of the override was an unwelcome surprise.
“It’s the old story that Chicago is dictating policy. This is a slap in the face to downstate,” said Cultra, who represents scores of Central Illinois constituents affected by the switch.
Opponents said the legislature should not intervene in an area that is the responsibility of the executive branch.
“Where does it stop?” said state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago.
There’s fear by some Downstaters that if Health Alliance goes under because it lost its longtime contract, then Blue Cross might be able to raise its rates when the next contract negotiation comes along.
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