After Senate rolls over vetoes, Rauner says it’s not ‘personal’

SHARE After Senate rolls over vetoes, Rauner says it’s not ‘personal’
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This September 2017 file photo shows Gov. Bruce Rauner announcing his decision to sign the controversial House Bill 40. Rauner on Thursday said the Illinois General Assembly’s recent series of veto overrides aren’t “personal.” | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

In his first two years in office, Gov. Bruce Rauner was able to keep Republicans united to fend off all but three overrides.

On Wednesday, the governor witnessed a stark contrast as the Illinois Senate moved quickly to override nine of his vetoes — with the help of some Republicans.

Were the overrides a message of defiance to an embattled governor? A post-HB40 world where conservatives still have an ax to grind? Rauner on Thursday laughed off whether they signal a revolt.

“Not at all. These are [part of] a broken system that we’re trying to fix and it takes time,” Rauner said.

He, too, said his vetoes were “not a personal thing.”

“It’s not about me. It’s not about any particular legislator. This is about what’s best for the people of Illinois. The General Assembly passed a lot of bad bills that are going to cause more tax hikes. They’re going to cause more deficit spending. They’re going to cause more jobs to leave the state. And I vetoed these bills. Some were successful in protecting the people of Illinois and some weren’t,” Rauner said.

Others had a more pointed view. State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said the overrides show a lack of trust between legislators and the governor.

“What I can say in talking to a lot of members on both sides of the aisle is I don’t know how many members actually trust Bruce Rauner at this point,” McSweeney said. “I would say his credibility is zero with Springfield at this point.”

Of Rauner’s 40 total vetoes this year, 15 were overridden — nine of those overridden on Wednesday. Of his 10 amendatory vetoes, three were overridden.

The Debt Transparency Act, which Rauner has called “political manipulation,” was among the overrides. Despite the veto being unanimously overridden in the Illinois House two weeks ago and passing on Wednesday with a 53-3 vote in the Senate, the governor on Thursday said he didn’t regret his veto.

“It’s going to cost a lot of money and it will accomplish almost nothing,” Rauner said.

In the 99th General Assembly, there were just three overrides — total veto overrides of a Chicago pension savings plan bill, a bill targeting heroin abuse and an override of Rauner’s amendatory veto of a pension bill for Chicago public safety workers.

Rauner’s office quantified his veto losses last year at 3 percent, and 36 percent for this year. In comparison, in the 98th General Assembly, Gov. Pat Quinn lost 20 percent of his vetoes. He vetoed 35 bills with seven of them being overridden and 28 sustaining. In the 95th General Assembly, then Gov. Rod Blagojevich lost 53 percent of his vetoes, the governor’s office said.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker called the veto overrides on Wednesday “a rapid fire rebuke of this failed governor.” Rauner’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment about the overrides.

But the governor’s office downplayed the so-called “rapid fire” vetoes, arguing there were plenty of vetoes that have remained.

“The governor was very interested in maintaining his push to create jobs. We think we accomplished that in keeping the door open to job growth in SB 1905 [which would have prohibited right-to-work zones]. And there were other pieces of legislation that the General Assembly chose not to override his actions, which we believe is good for the people,” Rauner spokeswoman Patty Schuh said. “This isn’t about wins and losses for us. This is about victories for the people and the people who pay the bills.

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