October 27, 2011
The Illinois General Assembly is expected to take up a host of budget-related bills during its veto session, which opened on October 25, 2011.
During the veto session, the General Assembly considers bills vetoed by the Governor. The legislature also considers bills that it had not acted on when the spring session adjourned, but only if they progressed far enough in the legislative process to meet specified deadlines or had been granted waivers from the deadlines. This year’s veto session runs through October 27 and then continues from November 8 through November 10.
In signing the FY2012 budget on June 30, 2011, a day before the start of the new fiscal year, Governor Pat Quinn vetoed $376.4 million in appropriations passed by the General Assembly. The table below shows appropriations bills affected by the vetoes and other budget-related bills that could be acted on during the veto session.
The Governor reduced the General Assembly’s budget through reduction and item vetoes. These vetoes reduce the amount of an item in an appropriation bill or eliminate an item in an appropriation bill. The General Assembly may override the veto or it may do nothing and the reduction stands or the item dies. In either event, the remainder of the bill becomes law. The Illinois Constitution (Article IV, Section 9) requires a majority vote of both houses of the General Assembly to override a reduction veto and a three-fifths vote to override an item veto.
Governor Quinn vetoed $276.0 million in Medicaid appropriations for hospitals (House Bill 3717), $89.0 million in school transportation appropriations (House Bill 327) and $11.3 million in appropriations for regional school superintendents (House Bill 327). On September 9, 2011 the Governor announced plans to close seven state facilities and lay off 1,938 workers as part of an effort to close a $314 million funding shortfall for some agencies in the budget passed by the General Assembly. At the same time, the Governor urged the legislature to uphold his appropriation vetoes and pass supplemental appropriations to avert the closings and layoffs. On October 27, 2011 the legislature’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) recommended against closing four of the facilities.
In response to the Governor’s veto of appropriations for regional school superintendents, a bill was introduced (House Bill 3847) to obtain the funding from the Personal Property Replacement Tax (PPRT) Fund rather than the State’s general operating fund. The PPRT is a revenue source for local governments that was created by the General Assembly in 1979 to replace a tax on the personal property of businesses that was abolished pursuant to the 1970 Illinois Constitution. On October 25, 2011 a House committee approved the bill.
Governor Quinn vetoed in total a bill (Senate Bill 178) to shift control over the awarding of employee health insurance contracts from the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) to COGFA. As discussed here, the bill surfaced after HFS attempted to save an estimated $102 million in FY2012 by switching insurance vendors. In a vote on October 26, 2011 the Senate failed to achieve the three-fifths vote needed to override a total veto.
The Governor used an amendatory veto to revise a bill (House Bill 1353) that would have prevented lawmakers from giving tuition waivers for state universities to family members. Governor Quinn’s changes would eliminate the program entirely. The General Assembly can respond to an amendatory veto by overriding the veto by a three-fifths vote of each house, allowing the original bill to stand as passed; accepting the Governor’s recommendations by a majority vote and returning it to the Governor; or taking no action and allowing the bill to die. It has been reported that the bill is unlikely to be called for a vote.
A bill (Senate Bill 744) that would establish five more casinos in Illinois, including one in Chicago, and allow for slot machines at racetracks and at both Chicago airports, was approved by the General Assembly but not sent to the Governor. Governor Quinn has criticized the bill for allowing an excessive expansion of gambling in the State and proposed a scaled-back alternative The Governor has also criticized an alternative proposal (Senate Bill 747) that would not allow slot machines at racetracks.
Other measures being considered in the veto session include a bill (Senate Bill 405) to reduce state corporate income taxes for CME Group Inc., parent of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade, and CBOE Holdings Inc., parent of the Chicago Board Options Exchange.
It is not clear whether a bill (Senate Bill 512) to require state employees to pay more for their pensions or switch to less generous pension plans will come up for a vote during the veto session. The measure was reportedly withdrawn from consideration in the House at the end of the spring session due to insufficient support. Meanwhile, other newly introduced measures aimed at curbing government pensions for union leaders are under consideration.
A House Joint Resolution (HJR 45) introduced on October 25, 2011 would limit wage increases in new union contracts and prevent the State from making layoffs an issue in collective bargaining agreements. The proposed resolution comes after Governor Quinn reached an agreement with the State’s largest union in the fall of 2010 not to lay off workers through the end of FY2012. The current contract expires on June 30, 2012.