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What’s with all those AV’s?

Monday, Sep 10, 2018

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

The J.B. Pritzker campaign slapped a new label on Gov. Bruce Rauner the other day, calling him “Governor Veto” because he’s vetoed several bills that the Democratic candidate supports.

Since the legislative session ended, Gov. Rauner has vetoed 75 bills. By my count, 44 passed with veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers.

So, he may or may not be “Governor Veto,” but he might turn out to be “Governor Override” come veto session in November.

The governor issued a Total Veto on 46 bills, and exactly half passed with enough to override. However, a bunch of those vetoes were slapped on bills that were duplicates in one way or another.

The more important issue is his amendatory vetoes. Rauner used his amendatory veto power to rewrite 29 bills, and 21 of those (72 percent) were passed with enough votes to override.

It’s rare for the General Assembly to accept an amendatory veto, mainly because House Speaker Michael Madigan will often kill them in his Rules Committee dungeon. If there aren’t enough votes to override, the vetoes are allowed to die. But legislators can and do override AVs if they can find the votes, and it sure seems like Rauner could be in for a bunch of those.

Take, for instance, House Bill 3418, which unanimously passed the Senate and cleared the House with 88 votes, 17 more than necessary to override. The bill would allow local governments to use tax incentives to create urban agriculture zones. The bill had no real opposition when it passed, but Rauner stripped out its tax incentives, stunning the bill’s supporters.

The General Assembly passed legislation to increase the amount that the Illinois Court of Claims can pay out in lawsuits against the state to $2 million, up from the current $100,000. Senate Bill 2481 was touted as a way to help the families of those who died at the Quincy veterans home. Rauner’s AV reduced that $2 million to $300,000. It passed the House 79-33 and cleared the Senate 42-7 and the sponsors are itching for an override.

I think the governor has gotten somewhat of a bum rap on that veto, by the way. A $2 million lawsuit cap could cost the state a bundle of dough that it currently doesn’t have. But $300,000 seems a little low. The $100,000 cap passed in 1971, and that’s $600,000 today, which seems more justifiable.

The governor signed all of Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s bills this year after getting thoroughly whacked last year when the House and Senate nearly unanimously overrode his veto of Mendoza’s legislation to require agencies to disclose how many unpaid bills they were sitting on.

So, Rauner instead turned his negative attention to Treasurer Michael Frerichs, vetoing several of Frerichs’ bills including an amendatory veto of legislation that would’ve allowed Frerichs to use money from the Unclaimed Property Act to buy a Springfield office building. Frerichs says buying one building instead of leasing two buildings would save taxpayers hundreds of thousands. But Rauner vetoed a Frerichs bill last year that allowed the treasurer to use third-party contingent fee auditors to make sure the life insurance industry was actually paying out claims. Rauner was overridden on that bill, so he used this year’s bill to again try to undo Frerichs’ law from last year.

“We don’t want officeholders to create their own empires, running their own little mini-governments,” Rauner told reporters when asked about that amendatory veto.

Rauner used his amendatory veto powers to rewrite HB4923 — Frerichs-backed legislation designed to tweak the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program — to make the entire program optional instead of mandatory.

He AV’d a bill designed to loosen some state treasurer investment decision restrictions to say those investments could only be made with the approval of the governor. SB2661 passed with just 2 “No” votes.

Rauner rewrote SB2857 that passed with large super-majorities to allow the treasurer to keep up to $12 million in administrative charges to pay for operations. Rauner also outright vetoed another Frerichs bill (HB4922) that would’ve stopped banks from charging fees on rebate cards.

Last year, the governor vetoed 42 bills and AV’d another 10. So, he’s way ahead of that pace, particularly with amendatory vetoes. Fifteen of his total vetoes were overridden last year while just 3 AVs were overridden. I’m thinking those numbers could be higher this time around.

So, why did he AV so many popular bills? You got me, but, other than his ire at Frerichs, some think he finally decided to fully engage with the General Assembly after session ended.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

11 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Sep 10, 18 @ 9:30 am:

    —…some think he finally decided to fully engage with the General Assembly after session ended.–

    Or, just stick it to the GA, given the GOP support on some of those super-majority bills.

    Maybe he’s trying to show some of those GOP caucus members who’ve been bucking him that he’s still boss.

    Otherwise, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason from a policy standpoint to the AVs.


  2. - Annonin' - Monday, Sep 10, 18 @ 9:36 am:

    Why? You ask why as we are in the closing weeks GovJunk’s Exit Interview Tour? He does most of what he does because he has failed to learn how government actually works or the need to work cooperatively with other government officials. He pouts everyday that his grand plans totally failed to gain any real support, his P3 schemes went up in smoke and lately he sends his wife out to tout great successes which were successes that the General Assembly passed bill — usually over his objections — and he signed them.
    Enough said


  3. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Sep 10, 18 @ 9:52 am:

    Sticking it to the taxpayers just to show Frerichs who’s boss. Nice.


  4. - occasional quipper - Monday, Sep 10, 18 @ 10:01 am:

    Blago had his “Rewrite to do right”

    Rauner has “Rewrite to do spite”


  5. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Sep 10, 18 @ 10:23 am:

    Who is sticking to to who?

    The financially irresponsible GA that hasn’t passed a constitutionally required balanced budget in almost two decades continues its spending spree and increases the lawsuit cap by 2,000% to punish taxpayers and reward trial lawyers.


  6. - Arsenal - Monday, Sep 10, 18 @ 10:34 am:

    ==GA that hasn’t passed a constitutionally required balanced budget==

    Governor’s constitutionally required to propose a balanced budget, too. He never has, but you only whinge about the one.

    ==reward trial lawyers==

    Grieving families don’t have to take a haircut just ’cause you need to spite the trial lawyers.


  7. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Sep 10, 18 @ 11:14 am:

    What is the justification and the source of the new money needed to pay grieving families up to 20 times more than we did last year?

    The GA is much better at being compassionate with other people’s money than actually being responsible with it and spending it like it was their own.


  8. - don the legend - Monday, Sep 10, 18 @ 12:31 pm:

    Wow LP. So the worst governor in America can be responsible for the deaths of 13 veterans, deny any responsibility, have a staffer try to blame a disable war hero Senator and your problem is with affordability of a settlement.

    Perhaps Governor Junk can cancel his Barney’s warehouse lease, cut lose Munger, and sell the Thompson center six more times to find the money.


  9. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 10, 18 @ 2:28 pm:

    Predictable behavior for a sore loser.


  10. - Cubs in '16 - Monday, Sep 10, 18 @ 4:29 pm:

    He’s still playing CEO for the few months he has left. Might as well try to get his money’s worth.


  11. - Informed Mom - Monday, Sep 10, 18 @ 7:50 pm:

    I noticed this year’s glut of AVs, of course, but I assumed it was evidence that somebody on Rauner’s staff was finally reading all the bills.


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