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House unanimously overrides Debt Transparency Act veto

Thursday, Oct 26, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Unanimous override votes are not a common occurrence, to say the least

Illinois House members sent a message about transparency Wednesday, voting unanimously to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a bill requiring greater disclosure of state finances.

The House voted 112-0 to reject Rauner’s veto of House Bill 3649 that requires state agencies to report monthly on bills they have not forwarded to the comptroller’s office for payment. Currently, agencies are only required to report the information annually, which makes it completely out of date by the time it is disclosed.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza, whose job it is to write the checks to pay the state’s bills, has pushed for the legislation to give her a clearer picture of what bills are waiting to be paid.

“I understand that our problems are really bad financially, but the only way to ever get to a position where we can fix the state’s financials is to know the true extent of how bad our financials are,” Mendoza said at a news conference following the House vote.

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

Wednesday’s vote was 112-0. When the bill initially passed the House in April, it passed by a margin of 70-40, with many Republican lawmakers opposing it. […]

Illinois’ backlog of bills as of last Friday was $16.3 billion, but Mendoza’s office said it could be more than that because state departments aren’t required to report their expenditures regularly.

* Monique

Rauner said the legislation was an attempt by Mendoza to “micromanage” state agencies. Lawmakers, though, countered it was commonsense accounting that would help officials gain a better understanding of Illinois’ finances. After the House vote, the bill now heads to the Senate.

“Today is a great day for transparency in the state of Illinois,” Mendoza said after the vote. “I understand that our problems are really bad financially, but the only way to ever get to a position where we can fix the state’s financials and get us on better financial footing is to know the true extent of how bad our financials are.”

* Tina

Rauner vetoed the measure on Aug. 18, saying “the inclination” to be more transparent about the state’s finances is a “good one.” But he said her bill “more closely resembles an attempt by the Comptroller to micromanage executive agencies than an attempt to get the information most helpful to the monitoring of state government.”

Rauner too said it would divert limited funds and staff attention from their main duties in providing services to Illinois citizens.

Though the veto message appeared to take a political shot at Mendoza, bill sponsor state Rep. Fred Crespo, D-Hoffman Estates, said the intent of the bill wasn’t a continuation of the Mendoza-Rauner war.

“I know on her end I can attest to this, it was never political. It’s just doing the right thing,” Crespo said.

* And the Champaign News-Gazette’s editorial board offered belated and begrudged support

State legislators only rarely do the right thing for the right reason. They sometimes do the right thing for the wrong reason, and that may be the case here.

This legislation reeks of politics, Democrats sticking it to Republican Rauner. The party of Chicago House Speaker Michael Madigan, which controlled the governor’s mansion from 2003 to 2015, never raised the issue during that time — a time when Govs. Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn routinely held back invoices. Suddenly, it’s become a top legislative priority. […]

Whatever the merits of the claim, few outside the governor’s office put much stock in Rauner’s words. They suggest that, for political reasons, he wants to hide what’s really hard to hide — the amount of the state’s unpaid bills. They’re currently $15 billion-plus, and when numbers are that big, people understand the circumstances are dire.

Nonetheless, Rauner is taking regular public beatings as a foe of transparency for purely venal reasons.

Since it’s unclear who has the better argument, we’ll follow our instincts and go with transparency.

If the mandate really is as burdensome as Rauner claims, Democrats can repeal H.B. 3649 when a Democrat holds the governor’s office.


  1. - RNUG - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 10:58 am:

    Two messages are being sent here, one to Rauner and one to the financial markets.

    To Rauner, the House is saying (redacted). To the financial markets, they are saying we are starting to get serious about getting the State’s finance under control.

  2. - Jibba - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    When you’ve lost the arch conservative News Gazoo, you’ve list everyone. But thanks for the venal dig at the Dems, just so we know that the pod people didn’t replace the NG board in the middle of the night.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 11:06 am:

    As the dismantling of the Rauner stranglehold shows up more often, it’s right and just that Rauner not only have a veto go 112-0 like Rod Blagojevich, the “Century Club” feel with the undercurrent of Ken Dunkin’s role these past 2 years is equally delicious.

    Rod and Dunkin.

    A two-fer message rebuke.

  4. - wordslinger - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 11:10 am:

    Mendoza ran circles around Rauner on this one, drumming up support around the state. The lame rationale served up by Munger read like bad satire.

    I suspect the effect of this new law is going to get interesting in a hurry, and not in a way that reflects well on Rauner’s executive abilities.

  5. - jim - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 11:13 am:

    “I know on her end I can attest to this, it was never political. It’s just doing the right thing,” Crespo said.

    Rich, you really believe that?

  6. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 11:14 am:

    Rauner, if asked today…

    “Would you trade the legislative wins you got in 2016, give them all up, if you could have had Munger defeat Mendoza?”

    If bet 2 gallons of Guacamole that Rauner would at least think on that…

  7. - Skeptic - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 11:16 am:

    Sort of takes the shine off that RtW override failure from yesterday, doesn’t it?

  8. - A guy - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 11:18 am:

    What shoulda happened…happened.

  9. - RNUG - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 11:27 am:

    A two-fer … both a rebuke to Rauner and a message to the financial markets that Illinois might he serious about getting the debt under control.

  10. - justacitizen - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 11:28 am:

    This is definitely a gotcha by Mendoza and voting against transparency is like voting against mom and apple pie. However I don’t believe that the Debt Transparency Bill will have much impact at all because:

    1)The true measure of a debt/liability is when goods/services are received by the state agency-not when a bill is received. The state’s current accounting system does not collect true liability reporting information. (Note that Comptroller Mendoza opted out of the statewide ERP accounting system that would have made the liability information readily available); 2) Vendors often do not send accurate or timely bills; 3) The information will not be audited and will be easily disputable. 4) It will be costly to accumulate the information and may exceed the benefits-i.e., watch for headcount increases; 5) Errors from prior months will occur and will need to be corrected/restated and will ill result in confusion.

    I don’t have a dog in the hunt on this issue but see problems implementing the Debt Transparency bill based on 36 years working in accounting at the Comptroller’s Office and another large state agency.

  11. - Nick Name - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 11:28 am:

    As we continue to see, more and more as time wears on, the most significant win last November was Mendoza unseating Munger. No more cover for Rauner’s gross mismanagement of state finances.

  12. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 11:32 am:

    ===the most significant win last November was Mendoza unseating Munger.===

    For me, it was always the most important race, nothing matched that race, it wasn’t even close.

    What I give the most credit is Mendoza staying, doing her job that she has best, and running for re-elect.

    Always felt her winning than getting re-elected will do more good than thinking it was a temporary thing.

  13. - Nick Name - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 11:41 am:

    ===For me, it was always the most important race, nothing matched that race, it wasn’t even close.

    What I give the most credit is Mendoza staying, doing her job that she has best, and running for re-elect.

    Always felt her winning than getting re-elected will do more good than thinking it was a temporary thing.===

    Me too: that it was the most important race. The GOP picking up 5 seats in the House? Meh. The so-called Dem veto-proof majority existed only on paper anyway.

    Agree too on Mendoza doing her job well, and running for re-election. Good luck to her.

  14. - Norseman - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 11:50 am:

    Well said RNUG.

  15. - Concerned Dem - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    The IL GOP will be out shortly with a press release claiming today’s vote proves that Speaker Madigan is truly standing in the way of bipartisanship because the final tally wasn’t 118-0.

  16. - Ghost - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 12:15 pm:

    OW agree. Just need a meme of Mendoza winning with flounder saying oh boy is this great.

  17. - jim - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 12:17 pm:

    how dare justacitizen be allowed to inject some common sense into the political hysterics?

  18. - G'Kar - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 12:40 pm:

    Did Rauner quietly lift the brick on this one?

  19. - Chris Widger - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 12:48 pm:

    ===message to the financial markets that Illinois might he serious about getting the debt under control.===

    Does anyone believe this? The state is very obviously extremely uninterested in solving its long-term problems, based on its actions at every juncture. That makes a lot of sense, since no politician or voter is incentivized to do so. Passing common-sense laws and constitutional amendments (like taxing retirement income, removing pension protections, and implementing a progressive income tax) are election losers, so the debt will never be under control, transparency law or not. Mendoza won the year, but no one’s trying to win the century.

  20. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 12:55 pm:

    The way Mendoza rolled Rauner on this issue and just her general conduct in statewide office this far makes me sad in a way that she won’t be topping the Dem ticket in 2018. haven’t seen anything from anyone running that they’d make a better gov than her.

  21. - RNUG - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 1:05 pm:

    == haven’t seen anything from anyone running that they’d make a better gov than her. ==

    Maybe in 2022 or 2026. If she had JB’s money, she would be unbeatable.

  22. - DeseDemDose - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 1:27 pm:

    Wingman Munger may be the worst Governor assistant in the history of Illinois. Patronage Flunky?

  23. - Lionel Hutz - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 1:34 pm:

    The only brick lifting here was Mendoza beating BVR over the head with one. Repeatedly.

  24. - Anonymous - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 1:36 pm:

    House to Rauner: “Eat Our Shorts!” - (More shorts needed)

  25. - Earnest - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 1:51 pm:

    Rauner-specific implications aside, thank you to all the Representatives voting to end this poor practice of Illinois Governors.

  26. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Oct 26, 17 @ 4:01 pm:

    And you wonder why the Capitol caught fire yesterday.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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