Springfield, IL – Illinois’ Democratic legislators are trying again to authorize funding for state services and universities, setting up a potential veto override showdown with Gov. Bruce Rauner.
The House and Senate recently approved Senate Bill 2046, but the Governor had yet to act on it.
The bill would authorize funding for state universities and college students plus a long list of essential services including mental health, people with developmental disabilities, women’s health, children’s health, senior citizens and much more.
The government is already running at a deficit and without a budget, but most other functions such as State Police are operating anyway under court orders. The agencies and programs affected by SB 2046 lack that protection, and many are in danger of closing their doors.
Among those affected are AFSCME members throughout the state, plus union faculty and staff at the state universities, which are already looking to lay off people if they stay open at all.
The bill was approved by large margins, mostly along party lines, with Democrats saying it allows the government to take care of its business – the people of the state – and Republicans saying it’s not worth making the deficit worse.
Rauner has vetoed previous bills like this one and was widely expected to veto this one.
Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea), chairman of the Labor and Commerce Committee in the House, described it this way:
“Time after time, the majority of legislators in the Illinois House have stood with local residents and voted to pass legislation to fund our most critical services that local families depend on – services like breast cancer screenings, medical care for elderly residents, services for victims of sexual abuse and assistance for college students in financial need,” he said. “It is my sincere hope that Governor Rauner will join us, stand with the residents of Illinois and allow these programs to continue operating.”
Democrats hold a strong majority in both the House and Senate but have had difficulty holding it together enough to override Rauner’s vetoes on some previous bills.
In the Senate, Democrats need 36 votes to override against votes to sustain plus those not present or not voting. The bill passed 37 for, 17 against and two not voting, leaving strong potential for an override.
In the House, 71 votes are needed to override, and the bill had only 65 votes in favor. However, six members were absent, three voted “present” and two others did not vote. Of those 11, six were Republicans and five were Democrats.
One Democrat voted against the bill, Scott Drury of the 58th District in north suburban Cook County. Ken Dunkin, a Democrat from Chicago’s 5th District, voted for the measure, but he has become known for supporting Rauner on overrides and lost his re-election bid in the March primary.
At least two Republicans who voted against the bill represent southern Illinois districts and face strong Democratic opponents in the November general election – Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon, who is being challenged by Katy Stuart in the 112th District; and Avery Bourne, of Raymond, who faces Democratic challenger Mike Mathis of Gillespie in the 95th District.