Gov. Bruce Rauner demonstrated for perhaps the last time the other day that he has still not learned how to pass a bill.
Rauner sent a letter to Senate President John Cullerton on Nov. 28 about a House amendment he supported in late May. That proposal was designed to stop Andrew Hamilton, the executive director of eight of the 10 regional development authorities in Illinois, from profiting off his lucrative side businesses that help companies with economic development assistance, including tax breaks and government loans.
The Illinois House deleted all of the language of an unrelated Senate bill with its amendment, then unanimously passed the amendment with the new language May 31, the last day of the spring legislative session. Almost six months later, the Illinois Policy Institute published a story noting that the bill hadn’t advanced in the Senate during the first week of the fall veto session, which began Nov. 13.
I happened to run into the bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, at an event not long after the IPI story was published, and I showed it to her and asked why she hadn’t moved the bill.
Bush’s original bill, before the House amended it, was predicated on the passage of two other bills. One of those bills didn’t pass, so she had simply stopped following its progress and didn’t even know that the House had amended it and had no idea about the story behind the House’s amendment.
Basically, the bill just got lost in the shuffle.
Cue Rauner. The governor fired off a letter to Cullerton on the final afternoon of the Senate’s veto session claiming the amended bill had been "buried" in committee, which, Rauner said, "gives the appearance of backroom deals cut by insiders in Springfield." That letter was emailed to me by Mischa Fisher, the state’s chief economist and an adviser to the governor, before it was sent to Cullerton.
Rauner had met with Cullerton the day before. Maybe Rauner didn’t see the IPI’s story until afterward, but instead of just picking up the phone and asking Cullerton to move the bill, Rauner sent him an insinuating letter after first releasing it to the media.
Also, the governor’s office employs a large number of people who get paid to lobby legislators. If this issue was so all-important to Rauner, then why not have one of his liaisons contact Bush in the months before the veto session began?
I made similar remarks on my blog, and Fisher reached out to say it was not the "role of the executive branch to shepherd legislation back and forth between the two chambers."
Um, yes, it is. "Why even have legislative liaisons if you’re not going to use them?" I asked. "To communicate the governor’s position on legislation as it moves through the two chambers," Fisher replied.
Did he not realize that this is exactly what I was talking about? There was zero communication with the Senate until the final hours of the veto session. Fisher replied that "making sure it wasn’t lost is what the governor’s letter is intending to do."
At that point, I just gave up and pounded my head on my desk.
The letter was yet another attempt at backside-covering and finger-pointing, which the governor has excelled at throughout his one and only term. Nothing’s ever his fault. It’s always on somebody else. He even claimed he is "not in charge." Frankly, the only thing missing from the letter and the back and forth with Fisher was an attempt to heap blame on Rauner’s favorite target, House Speaker Michael Madigan. That would’ve been the "perfect" ending to a hugely imperfect four years.
Crain’s contributor Rich Miller publishes Capitol Fax and the daily political newsletter CapitolFax.com.
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via Crain’s Chicago Business
December 1, 2018 at 08:10AM