* Veto message…
To the Honorable Members of
The Illinois Senate,
99th General Assembly:
Today I veto Senate Bill 2043 from the 99th General Assembly, which would explode the State’s budget deficit, exacerbate the State’s cash flow crisis, and place further strain on social service providers and recipients who are already suffering from the State’s deficit spending.
SB 2043 Would Exacerbate Our Budget and Cash Flow Deficits
Senate Bill 2043 would appropriate $721 million for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) and community colleges programs. Senate Bill 2043 proposes the same funding levels for these programs as were included in the unconstitutional, unbalanced budget passed by the General Assembly last year, which was opposed by many legislators, including Democrats, and which I vetoed.
Despite its constitutional obligation to balance the budget, the General Assembly has not put forward a plan to pay for these programs, whether through spending reductions, revenue, or cost-saving reforms. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget concluded that Senate Bill 2043 would add $721 million to the State’s budget deficit.
Today, the Comptroller reports 48,000 vendor vouchers waiting to be paid, a $7.2 billion backlog of bills, and a grand total balance of $145 million in the general funds. This bill would spend money the State does not have.
Moreover, Senate Bill 2043’s unfunded spending would significantly exacerbate the State’s current cash flow challenges. To protect and prioritize General State Aid payments, the Comptroller would be forced to further delay payments for other goods and services across State government, putting social services further at risk. We have already seen that the State’s deficit spending is harshest to social service providers and our State’s most vulnerable residents. Senate Bill 2043 would further delay those payments at a time when those recipients are already under fiscal stress.
A Better, Constitutional Way to Fund Higher Education
The Constitution and our obligation to taxpayers require a balanced budget. Recognizing this, legislators in both the House of Representatives and the Senate put forward a plan to pay for higher education spending – not just those programs included in Senate Bill 2043, but also funding for our public universities. I thank them for their leadership.
House Bill 4539 and Senate Bill 2349 would appropriate $1.6 billion for higher education programs, while Senate Bill 2789 would authorize the Governor, Comptroller, and Treasurer to identify and implement funding by reallocating funds and reducing spending in other areas. Together these bills would fund MAP, community college programs, and our public universities, without exploding the deficit or exacerbating the State’s cash flow crisis. This is a far more fiscally responsible – and constitutional – plan for funding higher education.
Therefore, pursuant to Section 9(b) of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I hereby return Senate Bill 2043, entitled “AN ACT concerning appropriations”, with the foregoing objections, vetoed in its entirety.
I imagine we’ll be seeing some react soon.
*** UPDATE *** Responses will be added as they come in. Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs…
“The Governor hurt the working poor and local taxpayers today.”
“Last year, we made a promise to 130,000 students and their families that we would help pay for college so they could achieve a better life. I don’t know when it became fashionable to not honor a promise.”
“Not doing so also hurts taxpayers. Community colleges are funded with local tax dollars. This veto ignores our responsibility to local governments, needlessly shifts this burden to local taxpayers and flies in the face of support for local control.”
“Yes, our state faces financial challenges. I agree difficult decisions are necessary. But the decision to ignore people who have demonstrated a willingness and ability to help themselves does not reflect my priorities or the values of our great state.”
* Senate President Cullerton…
“I’m disappointed in the governor. He had a chance to back up his promises with funding. Instead, he let these students down, again. I don’t understand how he can propose funding student financial aid on Wednesday, and then turn around and veto it on Friday.”
The Senate President will discuss with fellow Senate Democrats what steps to take next regarding the legislation.
* Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul University…
“DePaul University is disappointed that the political impasse has resulted in the state’s failure to meet its obligation of providing MAP awards to students in the state of Illinois. In keeping with our Catholic Vincentian mission, DePaul is announcing today that it will honor the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants awarded by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to DePaul students this year. That means 4,500 current DePaul students can be certain the university will stand with them during this impasse.
“In addition, thousands of high school students in Illinois are currently choosing which college to attend in the fall. Uncertainty about MAP funding should not create additional anxiety in making the college choice that best meets their academic and career goals. Therefore, DePaul will honor the MAP grant next year for all new entering students — freshman or transfer – who applied for financial aid by the cutoff date to be announced by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, if the state continues at a budgetary impasse into next year.
“Given our mission, we also will do as much as we possibly can to maximize our support next fall for all our students who choose to continue to pursue degrees at DePaul.
“DePaul makes this decision with the full expectation that the state of Illinois will ultimately have a budget that funds the MAP program, as it has for decades prior to this year. DePaul calls on Illinois’ elected officials to put aside political differences for the good of all students in Illinois who use MAP to become productive and employed citizens of our state.
“The mission of DePaul University is to provide a world-class education to all who come through its doors, especially those with great financial need and those who are the first in their families to attend college. For decades the state of Illinois and the federal government have been partners in serving low-income students. Until Illinois gets its fiscal house in order and implements a sustainable budget, DePaul must step in and make every effort to assure its students that DePaul will support them the best we can.”
* Sen. Gary Forby…
“I am disappointed in the governor. He had a chance to help students who are struggling economically and give them the chance to work toward a better and brighter future,” said Forby. “It is important we continue to work for Illinois students so they can be competitive in the workforce. I wish the governor would have seen eye to eye with us on this one.”
* Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery…
“Governor Rauner’s veto of tuition assistance for low-income students and funding for community colleges was expected but incredibly disappointing. It’s also hypocritical coming just two days after he delivered a speech touting education as his top priority while failing to mention his budget proposal included a 25% cut to universities and colleges across the state. Refusing to ask the very wealthy to pay a dime more while students sacrifice and suffer at his hand reveal Governor Rauner’s true priorities, and investing in working families isn’t one of them.”
* Sen. Daniel Biss…
“Today, Gov. Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 2043, which would have provided a lifeline to the 130,000 low-income students who rely on the MAP grant, as well as to Illinois’ cash-strapped community college system. The governor indicated that rather than fund these programs without a dedicated revenue source, he would prefer that the General Assembly pass a bill that gives him the authority to find the money elsewhere in state government.
“A better approach would be for him to propose a balanced budget of his own, with a clear spending plan and adequate revenues to pay for it. For some reason, Gov. Rauner refused to do this during his budget address Wednesday, but as far as I’m concerned, late would be better than never.”