All is calm in Springfield for now after a year that brought more political drama.
No one will forget the division that brought Illinois the two-year budget stalemate.
The state was spending money at the same rate it had been, but couldn’t pay its bills because revenue dropped when the state income tax did in 2015.
Democrats pushed through their budget that raised income taxes only to be met by the veto promised from Governor Bruce Rauner.
Repeated credit rating drops and threats of more generated the political will needed to get a few Republicans to go along with the Democrats and override the governor’s budget veto.
Then came education spending and the threat of school closures brought enough bipartisanship to adopt that plan.
It was a busy veto session that just wrapped up a little more than a week ago.
Let’s face it, the governor wouldn’t give ground on issues he considers fundamental to his campaign.
He wanted and still wants pension reform, property tax reform and term limits.
That was his big bargaining chip as he vetoed 40 bills from the legislature. State lawmakers ultimately voted to override 15 of them.
It’s hard to imagine lawmakers tackling any significant legislation outside the budget next year given the election cycle that will be dominated by the governor’s race.
Two people right in the middle of it are State Representative Mike Halpin and State Senator Neil Anderson, both representing Rock Island County in Springfield. They joined 4 The Record this week.
Let’s cover some of what happened during the veto session.
One loss for the governor involves the financial reporting of state agencies. Comptroller Susana Mendoza wants monthly reports. It had been annually. The governor vetoed the monthly rule. Lawmakers put it in effect with an override.
Anderson and Halpin addressed why this was political given how big the state debt is and if this will be enough to get a handle on it.
“Going through the veto session, a lot of people like to view it as a sport and keep a scoreboard,” Anderson said. “We need to start focusing on the real scoreboard and that’s creating jobs and a good economy in the state.”
“It really shouldn’t have been a political issue from the beginning, but we did have a 2 1/2 year budget impasse where bills weren’t getting paid and that exacerbated the problem,” Halpin said.
A victory for the governor came when his veto stood to prevent a ban on local governments from implementing right to work zones.
The proposal was intended to protect unions.
His veto could potentially weaken their standing in cities and counties.
Democrats fell a vote short on the override.
Halpin and Anderson talked about how soon and where we could see the ramifications and if there is another attempt to come.
“We need to protect middle-class families that earn these wages, and I think this was a step forward,” Halpin said. “I was very disappointed to have the governor veto it, and I was disappointed that we weren’t able to get the 71 votes.”
Anderson said he “was one of the very few Republicans that supported this bill and voted for it a few times. At the end of the day, right to work for Illinois is not the right thing to do and that’s what this bill addressed and I will keep voting in favor of keeping Illinois the way it is right now.”
Watch the full interview in the video above.
Local 4 News, your local election headquarters, is proud to present 4 The Record, a weekly news and public affairs program focused on the issues important to you. It’s a program unlike any other here in the Quad Cities. Tune in each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. as Jim Niedelman brings you up to speed on what’s happening in the political arena, from Springfield, Des Moines, Washington, D.C. and right here at home.