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Cullerton and Wheeler on executive powers

Thursday, Mar 13, 2014

* Senate President John Cullerton was at the Union League Club of Chicago today and talked about various stuff, including this

Bruce Rauner says he’d use executive orders to shake up Springfield, but Cullerton said when Rauner and his team check the state statutes and constitution they’ll find there’s not a lot he could do by executive order.

* Full quote

“Mr. Rauner should read the Illinois Constitution as to what powers are for the governor in terms of executive orders; they’re somewhat limited. He’s probably not aware of that.”

* And Public Affairs Reporting Program Director Charlie Wheeler, while speaking on a different topic, nevertheless made an interesting point to a reporter this week

The Illinois governor has no ability to unilaterally rewrite the statutes,” Wheeler said. The only way a governor could undo a state law was by the same way it was done in the first place: with the approval of a majority of state Senators and Representatives.

The closest an Illinois governor can get to ruling by fiat is an executive order, Wheeler said. But the Illinois Constitution only lets governors use that power to reorganize parts of state government, not to magic away laws they dislike. And even then, the legislature can overturn an order.

But that doesn’t mean governors haven’t tried.

When former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was impeached by the Illinois House in 2009, the charges against him weren’t limited to the corruption that would later send him to prison. Buried in the laundry list of Blagojevich’s misdeeds was Article 9, which accused him of “utter disregard of the doctrine of separation of powers” when he unilaterally expanded a state healthcare program that the legislature rejected.

Just in case a new governor might be thinking about pushing the envelope a little too hard, he ought to read that last paragraph a few times first.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


44 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    Both Rauners…

    Your move(?)


  2. - Walter Mitty - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 11:46 am:

    OW… I only know this…We have seen fire Madigan…Not effective. But what about the obvious thirst for change? I think ALL incumbants have some problems. Maybe so not to be a super minority… I think Quinns problems and The Presidents are a very real liability. Executive powers has not been brought up by Rauner latley… Maybe he will have a coalition to get things done? I believe, honestly, even in Illinois, we are in unchartered waters….


  3. - Roadiepig - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 11:51 am:

    Doesn’t matter what has been done in the past by lesser men- the Baron didn’t get to where he is in life by following “rules”. The constitution be damned- he will do what he wants. Sure sounds like gridlock and constant lawsuits for the citizens of Illinois if he does win…


  4. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 11:51 am:

    “Just like Mitch Daniels, Just like Scott Walker…”

    Does Indiana or Wisconsin have that Illinois Constitution?

    Does Indiana or Wisconsin have both Chambers in the hands if a party not one of the alleged affiliation of the governor?

    Sounds like Cullerton, you know the “Career Politican, owned by special interest and union bosses” is not really keen on Executive Powers being stretched beyond that pesky Constitution.

    Enter…. “Tom Hagen”

    Cullerton has seen this movie before. MJM, who. “Bruce Rauner” rails on, wonder if the Speaker would enjoy a trampling of that pesky Constitution?

    Co-Equal.

    Not a “CEO” looking for “weaknesses, fears” to manipulate in a board room of …unequals.

    Stalemates, government shutdowns, litigation, reversals of public policy in an embarrassing way, Blago-Style grandstanding. Failure.

    “Shake up Springfield”? An apple cart will be tipped, but MJM’s and Cullerton’s seems to have round wheels, and both Rauners apple cart, with square wheels, will be upside down quite a bit(?)

    “Hello Mitch? Hey, Scott?…”

    (Dial Tone)


  5. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    In all my years of state service, I have heard countless times that “I want to run government like a business”. Well, while that would be GREAT (especially in procurement) there are just too many watchdog groups over government that the private sector does not have to deal with.
    My concern with Rauner is he is used to buying a business if he can’t change it he sells it off. What happens when he cannot do anything he wants due to the Constitution and statutes? Does he resign and we get stuck with his running mate?

    I think it is hard for private sector employees to move to Public and vice versa. They are both completely different animals.


  6. - circularfiringsquad - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 11:54 am:

    Guesing neither Charlie or The Senate President realize how many laws are actually ignored and no one knows — unless someone on the workforces is on the verge of losing a sweet deal and squawks.
    Mitt Rauner’s problem is that the workforce will become supercharged hawks, reporting all abuses and probably demanding arbitration.
    This could make the workforce work — be careful what you wish for — but it will take decades to unravel.


  7. - wondering in Lake County - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    BR - Hey! I want my money back!!!


  8. - funny guy - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    Does anything prevent Gov. Rauner from using his campaign fund, a fund that can be constantly replenished by him, to contribute to legislators’ campaign funds to dilute Madigan’s grip? Perhaps a good reason to vote for him.


  9. - MissSmartyPants - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 11:53 am:

    In all my years of state service, I have heard countless times that “I want to run government like a business”. Well, while that would be GREAT (especially in procurement) there are just too many watchdog groups over government that the private sector does not have to deal with…”

    Ever try running a small business & dealing with the government. Harrowing to say the least.


  10. - Old and in the Way - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    Funny Guy
    There are some serious legal issues and impediments to this and for good reason. Government to the highest bidder?


  11. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:07 pm:

    ===Does anything prevent Gov. Rauner from using his campaign fund, a fund that can be constantly replenished by him, to contribute to legislators’ campaign funds to dilute Madigan’s grip? Perhaps a good reason to vote for him.===

    Hypocrisy?

    “I mean, we have a legislature bought by the Governor, lock stock and barrel, and these career politicians are doing the bidding of a wealthy man, who doesn’t have the best interest of the people of Illinois at heart. There is a conflict of interest with ‘Pay to Play’ from the Executive to members of the Legislative. A “quid pro quo”, blatantly and unabashedly demonstrated by Governor Rauner.”

    Your move… Governor.


  12. - Walter Mitty - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:08 pm:

    I think Cullerton is using this line is some desperation. I have not heard the executive power rehtoric in a while… Funny Guy… One way or another… I think that is the plan… Chip away at the grip. Fund anyone taking hard votes… I still go back MONTHS ago. Who did Madigan name after pension reform passed? The Farmer… Who was not in the lead and was not taken seriously… This is orchestrated…


  13. - Frenchie Mendoza - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:11 pm:

    Assuming Rauner defeats Quinn (probably won’t happen once Rauner starts taking actual positions on things that matter — although I understand it’s possible) — Rauner’s will issue Executive Orders the first day.

    My guess is that one will be about collective bargaining and the other will be about pensions.

    My question about Rauner — and I’ve heard this several times with folks I’ve talked to — we know that he hates “governement union bosses” (whatever those are) and promises to “shake up Springfield” — but there’s nothing — absolutely nothing — in his campaign thus far that promises anything resembling actual hope. No initiatives, nothing specific.

    It’s one of the few big campaigns recently that lacks all compassion. It’s all vitriol and threats — and it’s aimed at people that actually make the state work — the teachers and the workers. But for folks just living and working in Illinois — he stands for and promises nothing. I don’t get it. His is a campaign built on — essentially — hate. That’s strong, I realize it — but that’s all he’s done so far. Hate stuff.

    And this is a guy that’s gonna win the GOP nomination?


  14. - Rob Roy - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:16 pm:

    What ever look what the Federal government is doing. Nobody is being held accountable for breaking or changing laws without the proper authority or within the confines of the constitution. Like I have said before we are becoming a nation of men not laws.


  15. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    ===My guess is that one will be about collective bargaining and the other will be about pensions.===

    Cue: “Litigation/injunction”

    Then, cue: “Shutdown of state government”

    Then, cue: “Gridlock on Governor Rauner’s agenda”

    Then, cue: “Blago-type grandstanding, not based on Constitutionality of Orders”

    Seen this movie, thanks.


  16. - CollegeStudent - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:17 pm:

    ===Does anything prevent Gov. Rauner from using his campaign fund, a fund that can be constantly replenished by him, to contribute to legislators’ campaign funds to dilute Madigan’s grip? Perhaps a good reason to vote for him. ===

    Sure he can, but when he’s incarcerated can we send this governor to Uncle Sam’s Home for Wayward Murderers and Rapists? Maybe then the corrupt politicians will start to get the hint.


  17. - slow down - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:22 pm:

    Blago did not get impeached because of his unilateral action on health care or any state program. His impeachment covered a lot of subjects but was only politically possible because of his intentions/misdeeds for the Obama Senate seat. I don’t think Rauner or any other possible governor will fear impeachment for aggresively using executive power.


  18. - Irish - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:26 pm:

    Bruuucce! is just building on what the last two governors have tried. What is it they about
    Great(?) Minds? They think alike? And look where that gets you!


  19. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:35 pm:

    –Smartypants
    yes, my wife owns a small business and while there is government red tape, I can assure you it is nothing like being in government dealing with the watchdog groups.


  20. - Bill White - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:44 pm:

    @Oswego Willy

    == Then, cue: “Shutdown of state government” ==

    On this point, at least, Tom Cross will be standing shoulder to shoulder with Bruce Rauner.

    If State Treasurer Tom Cross files a lawsuit to seeking to declare the duly enacted budget unconstitutional and Governor Rauners files in support of the State Treasurer, what position should the Attorney General take?


  21. - Cassandra - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:45 pm:

    The Illinois governor can, however, allocate very large sums of money (say, $54,000,000)at the drop of a hat, and with little meaningful oversight, to advance his political aspirations.

    That’s powerful.


  22. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:52 pm:

    - Bill White -,

    With respect.

    I was coming from an Executive Order pertaining to Collective Bargaining and Pensions.

    I have no clue on how a “Governor Rauner” and “Treasurer Cross” play out your scenario.

    Rauner may need allies, but it would likely be signed by Rauner first, than Cross moves on the signed budget, so interesting math there.

    If Cross wanted to get between the Governor and the Legislature on Pensions, Collective Bargaining, and the constitutionality of any moves pertaining to that…

    Yikes.


  23. - Upon Further Review - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    Rauner wants to govern by issuing executive orders? Who does he think that he is? Obama?


  24. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 1:00 pm:

    –What ever look what the Federal government is doing. Nobody is being held accountable for breaking or changing laws without the proper authority or within the confines of the constitution–

    Where are the lawsuits? Where are the articles of impeachment? All you get is the steady, mindless, rote talking points.

    Turn of the cable and radio yakkers, you’ll feel a lot better.


  25. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    The whole “run like a business” line is just another thing to say, like “shake up Springfield.”
    It doesn’t have any meaning.

    Rauner himself will tell you he’s a salesman, not an analyst or manager.

    The companies his firms bought — he wasn’t breaking them down and making them more efficient or productive. He had other peeps squeezing money out of them.

    Rauner was out hustling investors for his funds. That included schmoozing and greasing politicians to land public pension funds. That’s the extent of his “business” experience.


  26. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    Executive Orders can be used for public relations, too. And that’s really what politics is all about. I’m sure Mr. Rauner, or his associates, know the Illinois Constitution. Shaking up Springfield may freak out some people on this blog, but to Mr. and Ms. Voter it may be a siren song they will enthusiastically hearken to.


  27. - Upon Further Review - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 1:08 pm:

    At present, the most frequent references to impeachment appear in fundraising letters designed to maintain a Democratic majority in the US Senate. It is a moot question as long as the US Senate is led by Harry Reid.


  28. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 1:09 pm:

    I am sure Rauner knows he can’t govern by executive order, just as he knows his term limits proposal is unconstitutional.

    Theatre, folks, this is all theatre. Bruce Rauner is a salesman, a carny. It is the most honest thing he said, everything else is just theatre.

    We already have reports that Rauner has been telling players behind the scenes that he and Madigan get along just swell.


  29. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 1:11 pm:

    “Theatre, folks, this is all theatre. Bruce Rauner is a salesman, a carny.” And show me a politician who isn’t all that.


  30. - Norseman - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    If elected, the Baron money will flow to his legislator friends. He won’t be stupid enough to make the contribution contingent on specific action. He knows that would get him put in jail. But Solons who don’t vote his way will find they no longer are his friend. The may also find a Baron friend running in the next primary.

    What may happen is that Baron money will flow to MJM’s coffers and da Speaker will allow him to mess with the public sector unions and do some agency stuff that won’t harm his members. I’d say this could set up a conflict with Cullerton, however, it seems like the prez usually caves to MJM.


  31. - Mr. T - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    Why are some saying Gov. Rauner?
    Why do some imply he can use his money to help elect State Reps & Senators?
    BR should receive a large amount of Dem votes in November, but, not enough to beat Quinn.
    And if Lisa replaces Quinn BR can lick his wounds and start his winter vacation early.


  32. - Anon - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:17 pm:

    If Gov BR wants too get big things done, then he will work with MJM, not agajnst him — all the antt-MJM rhetoric notwithstanding .


  33. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:17 pm:

    == Executive powers has not been brought up by Rauner latley==

    Doesn’t matter. Once you say it, you’re opponent can hit you on it.

    ==Executive Orders can be used for public relations, too. And that’s really what politics is all about.==

    LOL. So is Rauner running because he wants personal fame that the .01 just can’t give him because he’s not an actor or athlete? Or is it because he thinks politics is a way to put in place the policy and worldview he likes? Politics is the latter, not the former.

    ==At present, the most frequent references to impeachment appear in fundraising letters designed to maintain a Democratic majority in the US Senate. It is a moot question as long as the US Senate is led by Harry Reid.
    =

    False (http://goo.gl/GyDYi4), especially in comparison to literally a few emails (http://goo.gl/gHU9c3).


  34. - Upon Further Review - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:40 pm:

    Rauner the Phony Carnie versus Quinn the Fake Populist, oh, the joy of campaign 2014.


  35. - Jack Handy - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    Executive Orders can be overturned but they are not subject to Legislative approval.

    Which means if Gov Rauner issues a populist order, his goal is to make the Legislature look bad for overturning it.

    I can see Gov Rauner issuing Exec Order after Exec Order and making Cullerton and Madigan overturn each one of them.


  36. - dave - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 4:07 pm:

    ===My guess is that one will be about collective bargaining and the other will be about pensions.===

    What, exactly, do you think that Rauner can change about collective bargaining or pensions via executive order?


  37. - RNUG - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 5:00 pm:

    I’m standing by my prediction a Gov Rauner will cost the State more in legal fees than Blago and Quinn combined …


  38. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 5:07 pm:

    - RNUG -,

    Give me an over/under on the total amount and that might be one I would “bite” on.

    Rauner “should” cost more than both combined, IF he governs as he says, but what is that “number” lol.


  39. - RNUG - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 5:31 pm:

    OW,

    my calculator doesn’t have enough digits …


  40. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 5:36 pm:

    - RNUG -,

    Very well;

    (Clears throat) “Over/Under - ‘infinity and a half’..”

    Under is infinity, Over is infinity “plus1″…

    …tough number there


  41. - foster brooks - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 8:01 pm:

    **Theatre, folks, this is all theatre. Bruce Rauner is a salesman, a carny** professional BSer


  42. - RNUG - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 9:58 pm:

    OW,

    To answer you seriously, I’m going to guess the actual legal bills will exceed $50M over 4 years but the damage to the State over the same period will run many billions.


  43. - lakecounty - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 10:16 pm:

    “To answer you seriously, I’m going to guess the actual legal bills will exceed $50M over 4 years but the damage to the State over the same period will run many billions.”

    Yup, a great way to increase the business of all your legal donors.


  44. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 12:02 am:

    - RNUG -,

    I can see that. That is the “rub”, the legal fees are one thing, the fiscal impact, and the governmental impact is indeed immeasurable.

    Your calculator can’t go that high. Funny, and possibly true, given those actors impacted by the fees.


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