Bipartisan override of debt transparency veto clouds Rauner’s view

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Comptroller Susana Mendoza speaks at a Springfield news conference Wednesday as state Sen. Andy Manar, D- Bunker Hill, listens. Photo from Blue Room Stream.

Senate Republicans joined Democrats on Wednesday in rejecting Gov. Bruce Rauner’s denunciation of a debt transparency bill as a form of “political manipulation” by his Democratic enemies — overwhelmingly overriding the governor’s veto.

The override passed the Senate 52 to 3, with no debate. The three opposing the override were Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady, his deputy GOP leader, Sen. Dave Syverson of Rockford, and Sen. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove.

State Comptroller Susana Mendoza, who backed the bill, said the override by the Senate on Wednesday and the House last month are hopefully “a really good indicator of better days to come of bipartisan cooperation amongst the rank and file members of the Legislature.

“Truthfully, we didn’t need the governor at all,” the Chicago Democrat said at a news conference after the vote. “We got transparency done without the governor — in spite of the governor.

“And it was thanks to Republicans and Democrats coming together to try to get the state of Illinois on better fiscal footing.”

The bill’s sponsor, Democrat Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, called it “a good step to slightly in a greater degree open up the books of state government.”

The Debt Transparency Act would require state agencies to report monthly the amount of bills being held, liabilities that are being appropriated and liabilities that may have late interest penalties. State agencies currently submit their unpaid bills once a year in October.

The state’s backlog of unpaid bills is currently $16.7 billion, Mendoza said.

The law takes effect Jan. 1.

Two weeks ago, the House unanimously voted to override Rauner’s veto by a 112-0 vote.

Despite that bipartisan rejection of his veto, Rauner late last month dismissed the bill as the political handiwork of Mendoza and House Speaker Mike Madigan.

“That bill was really primarily about enabling some more political manipulation by Speaker Madigan and Comptroller Mendoza on how they can prioritize bill payment,” Rauner said. “That’s really what was behind that bill.”

Republicans dismissed the governor’s comments as sour grapes.

“This is another example of failed Governor Rauner’s alternate reality,” state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said at the time. “The governor lost 112-0 on the override — no Republicans voted against the override.”

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