Daily Egyptian

Rauner makes good on vow to veto Democratic spending bill

Michael+Madigan+and+Bruce+Rauner.+%28TNS%29
Michael Madigan and Bruce Rauner. (TNS)

Michael Madigan and Bruce Rauner. (TNS)

Michael Madigan and Bruce Rauner. (TNS)

By Rick Pearson and Kim Geiger, Chicago Tribune

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday vetoed a measure approved by Democratic lawmakers in April that would spend nearly $4 billion on higher education and human services for the current budget year, calling it an “unfunded, empty promise.”

The measure was an outgrowth of the Springfield stalemate and the test of wills between Rauner and Democrats that has left the state without a formal state budget for nearly a year.

The bill was approved in April by Democratic majorities in the House and Senate to provide funding for the current budget year, which runs through June 30, for various social services that had not been ordered funded by court action or consent decrees. Higher education subsequently received a partial appropriation.

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While Rauner previously had vowed to veto the bill, he used his Friday veto message as another platform to criticize the General Assembly, though the note lacked a direct reference to Democrats and the governor’s chief political nemesis, House Speaker Michael Madigan.

“The constitution requires the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget, but the General Assembly continues to abdicate that responsibility. A balanced budget is not just a constitutional requirement or the right thing to do for taxpayers; it is the only possible way to manage State government over the long-term,” Rauner wrote.

“Without a balanced budget, an appropriation is just an unfunded, empty promise — a check written from an over-drawn bank account.

“Social service agencies and providers need real funding, not empty promises,” he wrote. “Social services are being squeezed out by State debt and pension obligations, personnel costs, and other mandated spending. The only way to ensure that social services are fully funded is to pass a balanced budget, where spending is in line with revenues.”

Rauner said the measure “purports” to appropriate $3.89 billion for higher education and social service providers “but provides no source of funding.”

“Students, universities, community colleges, social service agencies, and our most vulnerable residents need real solutions and real funding, which [the bill] does not provide,” he said.

A spokesman for Democratic Senate President John Cullerton called the governor’s veto “disappointing,” saying it “underscores the need for immediate action on the balanced, bipartisan emergency budget for human service providers that has been on his desk for nearly a month.”

That’s a reference to a separate bill that was sent to the governor in May after it passed the General Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill is more narrow than the one vetoed by Rauner on Friday, as it would free up only special funds to pay social service providers. Rauner has dismissed the bill as an attempt to create a funding crisis in other parts of government operations not funded under the bill.

“Despite today’s veto, the Senate president remains optimistic that the governor will do the right thing and sign the balanced, bipartisan emergency budget for human service businesses,” Cullerton spokesman John Patterson said in a statement. “We would encourage him to do so quickly. These businesses, their employees, clients and families have waited long enough.”

(c)2016 the Chicago Tribune

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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