Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed union-backed legislation that would raise the wages for home health care workers who serve seniors and people with disabilities. He also vetoed legislation involving training and health insurance for child care workers, according to SEIU* Healthcare Illinois, which advocated for the bills.
Rauner said he vetoed the wage-related measures because they are too costly for the state and contain no funding sources.
One of the bills sought to increase the minimum wage to $15 for health care workers who assist people with disabilities in their homes.
In his veto message, Rauner noted that "the individuals covered in this legislation already earn more than their counterparts, both here in Illinois and in other states."
"The average hourly wage for personal care assistants in the United States is $10.60. In Illinois, outside the Home Services Program, these workers likewise earn $10.60 per hour on average," he added. "Pursuant to collective bargaining agreements with the State, workers represented by SEIU already earn the hourly rate of $13, with more skilled workers earning much more. The State simply cannot afford to increase the hourly rate from $13 to $15. When the rest of State government is being asked to do more with less, it would be irresponsible to give one special group a 15 percent pay hike."
SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher released the following comment in response to Rauner's vetoes:
With the vetoes of legislation protecting child care and home healthcare for people with disabilities and seniors, Gov. Rauner continues the Republican war on working women, African-Americans and Latinos who depend on these programs to be in the workforce. Rauner also is forcing seniors and people with disabilities into more expensive institutionalization. As we have seen, Rauner's draconian rules changes mean 55,000 fewer children receive child care and with his overtime policies, thousands of people with disabilities are in a nightmare period scrambling to find care. It's up to our legislative allies now to stand up to this governor and try to repair what Rauner is ripping apart.
The governor also used his amendatory veto on legislation involving the prevailing wage for public works projects.
The bill, SB 2964, sought to calculate the prevailing wage rate in a locality based on collective bargaining agreements in the area.
Rauner's amendatory veto message read in part:
The Prevailing Wage Act requires public bodies, including the State of Illinois, units of local governments, and school districts, to pay prevailing wage rates for construction of public works. The law requires each public body to investigate and ascertain the prevailing wage for each trade every June. The law also requires the Illinois Department of Labor to conduct its own survey. In practice, many local public bodies rely upon the Department's work and adopt the wage and benefit rates recommended by the Department.
Senate Bill 2964 would fundamentally change the law to delegate the rate-setting responsibility to labor organizations and to eliminate local government involvement. These changes are unconstitutional, would diminish local control over prevailing wage practices, and hurt taxpayers. I am therefore returning the bill with recommendations to address these concerns.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce agreed with Rauner's decision to use his amendatory veto on the legislation. The chamber's President and CEO Todd Maisch released this comment:
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce supports Gov. Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of SB 2964 because as passed, it would have eliminated the voice of local government in determining local wage rates. That would have led to inflated costs for local public works projects and to a damper on local economies. The business community wants laws and policies that help Illinois become more attractive to the creation and retention of jobs in our state. Increasing project costs and the resulting increases in property taxes would not be good for the job climate.
SB 2964 would have required the Illinois Department of Labor to exclusively use collective bargaining agreements in its calculations of a given local area's prevailing wage. Yet a study, The State of the Unions 2015, found that more than 60 percent of construction workers in Illinois are non-union. That means local rates could have been based on collective bargaining agreements several counties away."
We appreciate the governor's recognition of the diversity of our state and the negative impact SB 2964 would have had on our state's economic viability. The amendatory veto is consistent with the governor's program to protect Illinois taxpayers, making Illinois more competitive for job growth.
*The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this website.