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Rauner Vetoes Another Major Human Services Spending Bill

By aaroncynic in News on Jun 10, 2016 10:51PM

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner speaks at an event in Springfield. Photo by Aaron Cynic

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a $3.9 billion spending bill today, a predictable move that will leave already financially beleaguered social service agencies and schools underfunded.

“The State has gone too long without a balanced budget. State vendors and service providers have gone too long without payment. We need real solutions to our fiscal problems, not unfunded, empty promises,” wrote Rauner in a letter to members of the General Assembly published by Capitol Fax. “Today I return Senate Bill 2046 and implore the General Assembly to pass a complete, balanced budget for Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017.”

The veto is the latest in what is now almost a year-long war of words between the governor and Democratic lawmakers that’s made Illinois the only state in the union to go without a budget for FY16. In his letter, Rauner added:

“Without a balanced budget, an appropriation is just an unfunded, empty promise - a check written from an over-drawn bank account...The only way to ensure that social services are fully funded is to pass a balanced budget, where spending is in line with revenues.”

Getting spending in line with revenues however could be almost an impossible task, given that the governor has said he wouldn’t approve any measures to do that without acceptance of pieces of his ‘Turnaround’ agenda. Critics of Rauner’s proposals have called them ‘non-budgetary items’ and said they would weaken labor in favor of big business. Given that some of the measures—including changing the state’s tax code from a flat one to a progressive one and closing corporate tax loopholes—would impact some of the governor’s wealthiest donors, it’s likely he’ll find any way to fight them.

The spending bill was approved by both the House and the Senate in April and would’ve provided funding for human service agencies for the current budget year, which will end in just 20 days. A spokesperson for Senate President John Cullerton said while the veto was “disappointing,” 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 proposal would provide an immediate injection of $700 million for social service agencies - many of which would be forced to make additional cuts or close altogether. "While this is not a permanent solution to Illinois' budget impasse, it is a positive sign that bipartisan compromise can be found to benefit citizens who rely on critical state services,” wrote State Rep Carol Sente in a press release published by the Tribune.

Rauner however, has been dismissive of that measure as well, the Tribune reports.