SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed legislation Friday to require regular reporting of bill backlogs by his Cabinet, calling it an attempt by Democratic Comptroller Susana Mendoza “to micromanage executive agencies.”
Mendoza pushed the legislation last spring, saying it would provide a better picture of the state’s liabilities. She said the $14.7 billion pile of past-due bills doesn’t reveal Illinois’ entire fiscal mess.
State agencies don’t immediately send invoices for payment to the comptroller, who manages the state’s checkbook, because of processing delays or if there’s no appropriation to pay them. They report those bills once a year, on Oct. 1, for the amount as of the previous June 30.
The legislation, which had some Republican support when the General Assembly approved it, would require monthly reporting by the agencies. Mendoza said that would mean fewer surprises, better cash management and reduced late-payment interest fees.
“The inclination to provide more transparency about the state of our finances is a good one,” Rauner wrote in his veto message. “Unfortunately, this legislation more closely resembles an attempt by the comptroller to micromanage executive agencies than an attempt to get the information most helpful to the monitoring of state government.”
Mendoza took office in December after defeating Republican Leslie Munger in a special November election. Munger was Rauner’s pick to fill a vacancy. Mendoza has repeatedly sparred with Rauner ever since over the bill backlog and the two-year budget standoff between the first-term governor and Democrats who control the General Assembly. That battle ended in July with legislative approval of a budget over Rauner’s veto.
Mendoza spokesman Abdon Pallasch said the comptroller will urge lawmakers to override the veto.
The veto was among actions Rauner took on more than 100 pieces of legislation Friday. Others included a veto of a measure that would create a nonprofit insurance agency, with government oversight, to compete for insurance policies covering workers’ compensation insurance for businesses.
Rauner has insisted workers’ comp is too costly and is driving employers out of Illinois. Democrats have said cost-reducing changes they made in 2011 have not been passed on by the insurance companies, and competition would help. Rauner rejected the idea in his veto message, saying it would “disrupt the functioning market” with unnecessary bureaucracy.
Rauner also signed legislation creating a separate agency to govern the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum . Proponents argued the Springfield showplace was stymied by red tape under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Rauner created the stand-alone agency for the Lincoln facility by executive order and put the duties of the historic preservation agency under a different department. But lawmakers adopted a law to prevent a future governor from reversing the order.
The bills are HB3649, HB2622 and HB136.
Associated Press writers Sara Burnett and Sophia Tareen contributed to this report from Chicago.