* And now, on to the vetoes…
* From his veto message…
Today I veto House Bill 4351 from the 99th General Assembly, which would amend the Illinois Act on Aging to restrict the State’s flexibility in how we assess and serve Illinois’s elderly and physically disabled residents.
This bill is very similar to House Bill 2482, passed by the General Assembly last year, and which I returned with an amendatory veto for many of the same concerns I raise today. Although well intentioned, this bill would lead to serious unintended consequences.
First, this bill would lock into statute that an individual with a particular threshold score on the Determination of Need (DON) assessment tool would be eligible for both institutional and home and community-based long term care services. Instead, an individual with the threshold score should be entitled to institutional or home and community-based care. Many members of the General Assembly have long worked to transition the state from a reliance on institutional-based care to a focus on community care options that improve patient quality and cost efficiency. However, House Bill 4351 inhibits this transformation in the way the State delivers services for the elderly and disabled.
Second, to the extent that a motivating factor behind this legislation is to preclude a raise in the minimum DON score used to determine eligibility—as originally contemplated under the SMART Act (Public Act 97-0689)—I have no intention of raising the DON score. In light of this commitment, there can be no good reason to unnecessarily restrict the State’s ability to move from institutional-based care to community-based care through this legislation.
Finally, this bill would inhibit the Illinois Department on Aging from creating a new program, the Community Reinvestment Program (CRP). This program is designed to provide a multitude of flexible services for non-Medicaid individuals currently being served under the Community Care Program (CCP), and it furthers the State’s commitment to serving individuals in their own home and community rather than in nursing homes. CRP is also projected to produce savings of nearly $200 million during the next fiscal year. By precluding the launch of CRP, this bill would prevent the State from managing ever-rising costs and jeopardize our ability to ensure that essential community services remain available for the approximately 44,000 non-Medicaid persons now served by CCP.
…Adding… SEIU press release…
House Bill 4351, sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) would have prevented Rauner from manipulating the Determination of Need (DON) Score and limiting eligibility to seniors, which Rauner attempted last year. This is in addition to a proposed $200 million cut to CCP, which, in early talks, Rauner is proposing to replace with for-profit ride sharing vouchers, food vouchers and dry-cleaning services as an untried, unproven way to eliminate the in-home caregivers represented by SEIU Healthcare Illinois.
As a result of Rauner’s risky proposals, some 44,000 seniors are at risk of forced institutionalization.
Following is the response of Rep. Greg Harris:
“Sadly this veto by Gov. Rauner is another in his ongoing campaign targeting childcare, people with disabilities and senior citizens. We should be encouraging seniors to remain in their own homes and low-cost community settings instead of driving them into more costly institutions and nursing homes.”
* Other bills were also vetoed today…
Today I return Senate Bill 1059. This bill would allow retired state university employees who return to work after receiving a lump-sum retirement distribution to receive additional health benefits without making additional contributions to the retirement system.
Under current law, state university employees have the option to receive a one-time, lump-sum payout from the State University Retirement System upon retirement. A retired employee who elects to accept the lump-sum payout is not eligible to participate in the State’s health care program. If a retired employee later returns to work for the State after accepting a lump-sum payout, he or she no longer contributes to the State Retirement Systems and, therefore, is ineligible to receive additional future retirement benefits.
Senate Bill 1059 would allow a retired employee who accepts a lump-sum payout and then returns to work to participate in the State’s employee health care program, even though he or she would not be required to contribute to the State’s retirement systems going forward. The bill would establish an unequal benefit distribution and expose the State to unforeseen, unfunded costs to the historically underfunded State Employee Group Insurance Program. Rather than increasing retirement-related costs to the State, I urge the General Assembly to work with me on comprehensive pension reform.
Today I veto Senate Bill 2439, which amends the Illinois Pension Code to impose additional pension liability for police and firefighters on local governments, despite a local referendum rejecting such an expansion. It is identical to Senate Bill 763, which I vetoed last year.
Public safety workers deserve the right to earn good pension benefits. However, current law already provides a mechanism by which a municipality can provide pension benefits to police officers and firefighters. Benefits are mandatory in municipalities with the population of at least 5,000 people and can be created by referendum in those with fewer than 5,000 residents. Thus, in smaller municipalities, the decision rests directly with the people who will have to pay for additional benefits through higher property and other taxes.
This veto is necessary because Senate Bill 2439 would allow municipalities an end-run around local referendum results. If this legislation becomes law, a municipality could impose new pension obligations by a resolution of its governing body even if residents overwhelmingly reject the same by referendum. At a time when local governments in Illinois are struggling to make ends meet, we should not stifle direct democracy by permitting local governing bodies to ignore taxpayer’s wishes.
Today I veto Senate Bill 2531 from the 99th General Assembly to prevent yet another hindrance to economic development in Illinois.
The bill requires an economic development council that receives public money to include members of a labor council and persons from minority groups on its corporate board. Diverse representation, particularly minority representation, on corporate boards is an admirable goal and one every corporation should seek to attain. However, corporate boards should also be representative of the constituencies they serve and need flexibility to ensure that representation. Mandating certain representation on every economic development corporation that receives public monies is a one size fits all approach that ignores that many of these local and regional councils may be best served with different representation that reflects their specific mission.
Further, the vague drafting of this legislation is likely to have unintended consequences. For example, “economic development corporation” is defined as “an organization that receives public money that promotes the development, establishment or expansion of industries.” This broad definition will likely lead to the inclusion of corporations whose works bears no relationship to traditional economic development. In addition, many corporations that would fall within this definition are dedicated to representing the interests of the management side of business. Forcing the inclusion of the labor representatives on such a board is in direct conflict with such a corporation’s interest.
This bill is one of three pieces of legislation passed by the General Assembly this year that impose arbitrary mandates on groups trying to further economic development in Illinois. Last year Illinois lost thousands of jobs, and I continue to hear that businesses are leaving our State. Rather than imposing inflexible requirements on entities trying to bring jobs to the Illinois, I encourage the General Assembly to focus on passing legislation designed to further economic development.