July 2, 2014
Despite criticizing the General Assembly for not passing an adequate budget for the new fiscal year, Governor Pat Quinn signed the legislature's appropriations bills into law on June 30, 2014, the last day before the start of FY2015. The Governor vetoed $250 million from the capital budget, but the change will not affect the State’s operating expenditures.
As discussed here, the FY2015 General Funds budget approved by the legislature totals $35.8 billion ($35.751 billion) in expenditures and is propped up by one-time gimmicks such as borrowing for operations, transferring revenues from the previous year for current expenses and underappropriating expected liabilities in the coming year.
The one line-item veto issued by the Governor eliminated $250 million earmarked for unspecified upgrades for the State Capitol Complex in Springfield. This reduction was made in House Bill 3793, which contained most of the capital budget for FY2015. Since FY2005 the State has authorized separate capital and operating budgets.
As discussed here, the capital appropriations for FY2015 are expected to include a total of $16.5 billion in reauthorized spending from previous fiscal years. The $250 million vetoed from the bill by the Governor was originally included in the FY2010 capital budget and has been reappropriated each year but not allocated to specific construction projects. This amount was in addition to the $50 million for renovations to the State Capitol Building that have mostly been completed. The FY2015 budget includes $11.0 million of reappropriations for the Capitol, mostly to complete HVAC upgrades and ADA compliance.
The expense of the renovations at the State Capitol Complex came under fire last fall when the cost of some of the individual elements came to light.
It is unclear what the $250 million would have been used for if not vetoed by the Governor. The State does not have a comprehensive capital improvement plan, so these expenditures and most of the more than 1,000 lines of capital appropriations reapproved each year are not connected to specific projects or prioritized to indicate which projects will be funded next.
Under the Illinois Constitution, the House of Representatives now has 15 days to override the Governor’s veto by a three-fifths vote and then the Senate must also act within 15 days of the House’s action.
The Governor has not yet signed an additional capital bill also passed by the General Assembly, which expanded the capital budget to include an additional $1.0 billion worth of bond-funded road construction projects not originally included in the Governor’s recommended FY2015 capital budget.