Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Quinn says budget work 'incomplete'

By Jamey Dunn

Gov. Pat Quinn vowed to use his veto pen on at least one bill approved by lawmakers in the last days of their spring legislative session and said more work needs to be done on the budget.

“Overall, I think members of the General Assembly got a number of things done, important things. But part of my job as governor is to make sure that they keep on the job of keeping our economy moving forward in Illinois,” Quinn said today.

The spring legislative session ended Tuesday, and Quinn now has to make decisions about some large and controversial legislative packages that are headed to his desk. “The governor of Illinois has the supreme executive authority, and I intend to use it in a way that helps the people,” Quinn said.

The governor was adamant about rejecting Senate Bill 1652, which would allow Illinois' two largest utilities to raise rates to upgrade the state's electric grid.

“It wasn’t a good idea to give Commonwealth Edison and Ameren what they were asking for because they were asking for way too much from the people of Illinois, the families and businesses of Illinois,” he said. The sponsors say they plan to override a veto from the governor, but the measure did not pass in either chamber with the three-fifths majority that would be needed should the vote to override become necessary.

Quinn also was critical of a gaming expansion proposal that lawmakers approved yesterday.

“I told the legislature over and over again, the people of Illinois do not want an excessive gambling bill that’s top-heavy,” he said. “Once the General Assembly got this subject, House and Senate, it got more and more top-heavy.”

He added, “I think any person with common sense looking at that bill would say it’s excessive.”

Senate Bill 744 calls for five new casinos, including one owned by the city of Chicago, slots at hose racing tracks and increased numbers of gaming stations at existing casinos. Quinn has said he supports the Chicago casino but was not enthusiastic about other aspects of the plan. Quinn said he did not like the idea of slots at the State Fairgrounds in Springfield, saying it is a “family place.”

Quinn said he needed to review the bill and would not say whether he might veto it or attempt to change it through an amendatory veto. However, he did make reference to his veto power several times throughout the news conference, saying at one point that the governor has “robust power of veto, and sometimes you have to use it.”

Quinn said he does intend to sign the changes to the workers' compensation system approved in the House yesterday and praised lawmakers for approving comprehensive reform that he says will improve the business climate in the state.

Quinn faulted lawmakers for sending him a budget that includes cuts to early childhood education, K-12 education and Monetary Award Program grants for college students. He renewed his call to protect some of the biggest spending areas in the state budget. “I think it is important that we invest in health care and human services and public safety and education.”

He said the House should have approved the approximately $430 million in spending that Senate Democrats wanted to tack onto their budget. “I do think the job was incomplete.” He renewed his call to protect some of the biggest spending areas in the state budget. “I think it is important that we invest in health care and human services and public safety and education.”

Quinn would not say whether he would call a special legislative session, only saying he would “work” with legislators on the budget. “We plan to work with the members of the legislature and their leadership today, tomorrow and every day this summer.”

He added, “A budget, any time, is a day-to-day, week-to-week process.”


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