SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois House dealt Gov. Bruce Rauner a series of setbacks Wednesday by overriding vetoes of measures that represented the Republican's political, as well as policy, disputes with Democrats.
Rauner lauded one victory, a failed override of a ban on anti-union "right-to-work" zones.
The lowest point for the governor came when the House voted 112-0 to overturn his veto of a financial reporting measure that had devolved into a political spat with Democratic state Comptroller Susana Mendoza.
The legislation would require state agencies to report to the comptroller monthly on bills they've incurred.
Current law requires once-a-year reporting. Mendoza said that's of little help when the state trying to get ahead of $16.6 billion in overdue bills spawned by a two-year budget stalemate.
"The only way to ... get on a better financial footing is to know the true extent of how bad our finances are," Mendoza said at a Capitol news conference after the vote.
The Associated Press reported this month the most recent data indicates that, as of June 30, $7.5 billion of the backlog had not even been sent to the comptroller for processing.
Rauner complained Mendoza is trying to "micromanage" state spending. The bill's sponsor, Hoffman Estates Democratic Rep. Fred Crespo, said current information "is not even enough to macro-manage."
Mendoza lauded the override.
"This is a huge victory for taxpayers who will soon be able to get a better look at the state's pile of unpaid bills – that's more than $16 billion that has been run up in their name," she said. "But that number is just an estimate. We don't really know how many bills are sitting at the agencies. Sometimes we get bombarded by an overnight surprise of a billion dollars worth of bills we never knew about. Legislators of both parties came together today for this vote because we all want a more accountable cash and debt management process."
Using analogies of a home checkbook, Comptroller Mendoza talked to legislators and citizens about the need to have more than one report a year. The Debt Transparency Act would require monthly instead of annual reports from state agencies to the Comptroller's Office and allow more comprehensive financial information to be included.
The Illinois State Senate is expected to vote whether to override during the second week of veto session Nov. 7-9.
Rauner, who announced on Monday that he'll seek re-election in 2018, kept a campaign promise alive when the House failed by one vote to overturn his veto of legislation to prohibit local right-to-work zones. The zones allow a worker to hold a job with union protection without joining or paying union dues.
"Local communities should be able to decide how best to compete for jobs ... and give the freedom to individual workers to support a union at their own discretion," Rauner said in a statement.
The House also failed to override Rauner's veto of a plan to set up an independent insurance company to compete for workers' compensation coverage. But it did override Rauner on legislation to prohibit employers from seeking applicants' salary histories and a measure pushed by Democratic Treasurer Michael Frerichs designed to make it easier to claim life insurance benefits when a policyholder dies.
The House voted 71-40 Wednesday to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto.
The proposal requires life insurance companies to compare electronic records of its policies in force since 2000 with the Social Security Administration's list of deaths to determine whether a policy should be paid.
Auditors hired by the treasurer found that life insurance companies held more than $550 million between 2011 and 2015 that should have been paid to a decedent's family members.
The Senate reversed a veto on Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan's legislation to create safeguards for collegians and others seeking student loans through private companies.