Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a Senate bill Friday that would have funded social services and higher education in the state, saying the legislation is an "unfunded, empty promise."
"Without a balanced budget, an appropriation is just an unfunded, empty promise - a check written from an over-drawn bank account," Rauner wrote in his veto memo. "Social service agencies and providers need real funding, not empty promises."
The spending package would have designated $3.89 billion in funding for state programs that are not covered under consent decrees and, as such, are not required to be funded during the ongoing 11-month budget impasse.
Community colleges and universities as well as low-income student grants would have been funded under the vetoed bill.
Here's a look at Rauner's full veto memo:
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. So today I return Senate Bill 2046 and implore the General Assembly to pass a complete, balanced budget for Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017.
The Constitution requires the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget, but the General Assembly continues to abdicate that responsibility.
A balanced budget is not just a constitutional requirement or the right thing to do for taxpayers; it is the only possible way to manage State government over the long-term. Unlike the federal government, the State is unable to sustain deficit spending over multiple years without significantly impairing its operations. Case-in-point: the State is suffering from a cash-flow crisis from years of deficit spending, leading to a current bill backlog of more than $7 billion. The State is months or even years late in paying vendors and service providers, particularly from general funds.
Without a balanced budget, an appropriation is just an unfunded, empty promise - a check written from an over-drawn bank account.
Social service agencies and providers need real funding, not empty promises. Social services are being squeezed out by State debt and pension obligations, personnel costs, and other mandated spending. The only way to ensure that social services are fully funded is to pass a balanced budget, where spending is in line with revenues.
Senate Bill 2046 is an empty promise. The bill purports to appropriate $3.89 billion, including more than $3 billion in general funds that the State does not have, for higher education and social service providers, but provides no source of funding. Students, universities, community colleges, social service agencies, and our most vulnerable residents need real solutions and real funding, which Senate Bill 2046 does not provide.
Therefore, pursuant to Section 9(b) of Article IV of the Illinois Constitution of 1970, I hereby return Senate Bill 2046, entitled "AN ACT concerning appropriations", with the foregoing objections, vetoed in its entirety.
John Patterson, a spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton, found the governor's veto to be discouraging and implored Rauner to sign a bipartisan, emergency stopgap bill that is currently on his desk:
It's disappointing that the governor chose to veto the entire proposal. The governor's veto 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. His administration identified the dollars. Nearly $700 million in overdue payments could go to businesses as soon as he signs it.
Despite today's veto, the Senate President remains optimistic that the governor will do the right thing and sign the balanced, bipartisan emergency budget for human service businesses. We would encourage him to do so quickly. These businesses, their employees, clients and families have waited long enough.
The emergency stopgap bill allocates $450 million to the "Commitment to Human Services Fund," while $250 million would go to special efforts, including foreclosure prevention and affordable housing.
But it is unlikely that Rauner will sign the legislation. Earlier this week, the governor said the bill does not cover any "essential services" and "is designed to still create a government crisis." Rauner is pressing the state legislature to pass a full budget.
Meanwhile, SEIU* Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher said the governor's veto keeps the state in a "hostage situation."
"The governor's veto of Senate Bill 2046 is more evidence this governor wishes to continue the hostage situation he has caused in Illinois," Kelleher said via statement. "He has spent recent days blaming everyone but himself for holding up a budget until he gets his union-busting demands that have nothing to do with saving taxpayer dollars and everything to do with weakening rights and protections for Illinois' working families and driving down wages and benefits for all workers.
"The governor needs to stop the blame game and do what's right. We have seen too many suffer for his misplaced priorities."
On Thursday, Moody's Investor Services and the Standard & Poor's downgraded Illinois' credit rating, while Fitch Ratings put the state on a negative watch due to the almost yearlong state budget impasse.
*The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this website.